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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
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4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
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Comedy, Drama and Baseball
2005-08-23 11:35
by Jon Weisman

Monday brought another episode of a 2005 Dodger season that has had all the artistic merit of Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place.

With the game long over by the time the kids were in bed, I was free to contemplate other things. While doing some household chores, I came upon the first half of one of the greatest hours of television ever, Part 1 of the Season 1 finale of Cheers.

Cheers had almost no audience at its start, and most of us watching back then found ourselves members of a club too good to be true. That first season was romantic comedy at its highest televised form, a spiritual descendent (not that I knew it then) of Much Ado About Nothing that was flat-out brilliant, that melted euphorically in your consciousness.

By the end of its decade-plus run, I came to detest Cheers, which arguably suffered television's greatest creative fall from grace ever. Few programs, if any, went from intelligent to adle-brained with such depressing clarity - the comedy's signature sophisticated banter and heart replaced by one character humiliation or enfeebled contest with Gary's Old Towne Tavern after another. Those were the Kevin Malone years of Cheers.

But during the early 1980s, I would record Cheers and Hill Street Blues for my brother, who was away at college without a television set, and we would watch them in marathon sessions during his vacations. And then, when he went back to school, I would watch the tapes again and again. This season finale, in which Sam almost loses Diane to his brother, "a man like any other man ... you would find in Greek mythology," made such an indeliable impression on me that years later, while struggling on a long bike ride, I diverted myself from my exhaustion by reciting the entire finale in my head, line-by-line.

Nerd? Sure thing. But nerd for a good cause. There was a sweetness to those early Cheers episodes to be cherished.

At the same time, not even the best television makes makes me jump up and down like a pogo stick, the way watching Fernando Valenzela's no-hitter or Steve Finley's grand slam did. Baseball has a power that comedy and drama do not.

And the reverse is true as well.

A half-hour after the Cheers rerun ended, I watched the series finale of Six Feet Under. Not everyone likes Six Feet Under, and some who once did have turned on it (or felt the show has turned on them, like I feel with Cheers). Six Feet Under isn't perfect, but some people seem to grow impatient with it not because of quality issues, but because the characters never healed. Time and again, in dealing with difficult, tragic topics, the writing has been surgically precise.

Regardless, I was prepared for just about any kind of misery in the series finale. For the most part, we got a welcome catharsis. But then there was the epilogue, which laid out the future deaths of all the main characters in a montage that left me, I'm not kidding you, physically ill.

About 10 years ago my family was rear-ended in a hotel shuttle van at a stoplight by a drunk driver going about 80 miles per hour. Miraculously, we suffered no major injuries, and I came away only with a concussion. I was given some medication for the physical pain, but under the influence of the drug, I would have flashbacks of the crash and what-might-have-beens every single time I closed my eyes. I found it easier to endure the physical pain than the mental and went off the meds.

The Six Feet Under finale hit me like getting the crash and the medication at once. As much of a reminder as it was to treasure life, the show was that painful. My mortality and my family's mortality hammered against my forehead, and an hour after the show, when I closed my eyes for sleep, images of Ruth and Claire on their deathbeds haunted me. A television show did this to me.

In a sense, I love the power great television has. I embrace it. But baseball has given me greater euphoria than the greatest television show, and has never made me feel as low.

Thank freakin' goodness.

Comments (172)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2005-08-23 11:57:30
1.   jasonungar05
"You can't take a picture of this, it's already gone."

that line got to me in SFU finale. It is still getting to me and things don't normally get to me.

2005-08-23 11:58:24
2.   Eric Stephen
This would probably not be a good time to mention that I liked "Two Guys, A Girl, and A Pizza Place".

(Nerd alert: the above line is best read as the professor in the Simpsons monorail episode - "I probably shouldn't have stopped for that haircut")

2005-08-23 11:59:35
3.   Bob Timmermann
I enjoyed the last episode and the last season, although the ending didn't haunt me as much. I think actually seeing real people die makes you realize how hard it is to get actors to do it realistically. Death is not a pretty thing to watch.

The HBO website has obituaries for all the characters. It's interesting to read what they all did.

2005-08-23 11:59:37
4.   Jon Weisman
It's okay, Eric. I almost never miss an episode of the 2005 Dodgers myself.
2005-08-23 12:04:18
5.   Jon Weisman
Thanks for the HBO link, Bob. I still find it all chilling.
2005-08-23 12:08:18
6.   gvette
As Bob indicated in #3
Having had to deal with the real thing in my family in the last two weeks (and continuing);

Unlike the true life experience; the cast and crew of SFU will be available for curtain calls at the Emmy Awards next year, along with their agents, creative handlers, and HBO honchos.

2005-08-23 12:12:45
7.   Jon Weisman
6 - I didn't mean to imply otherwise, to imply that the show made me feel as bad as the real thing does.
2005-08-23 12:13:25
8.   Jon Weisman
And I'm so, so sorry for what you are now going through.
2005-08-23 12:16:56
9.   gvette
Thanks Jon,

And no disrespect to SFU or any of the fans of that show; then again, I don't quite believe that Entourage is necessarily an accurate depiction of young actors in Hollywood, either.

2005-08-23 12:19:14
10.   Bob Timmermann
One thing the show did get right is the tensions that families go through planning funerals.

It's not a lot of fun if people are disagreeing about things. It's awful. There are many decisions to make and hardly anyone is in the proper emotional state to make them.

I used to think that I would never ever forget August 10, which is the day my mother passed away in 1993. And for the last three years, the day has come and gone without me noticing it. I think I was more upset over Yhency Brazoban that day.

However, if you catch me on Mother's Day or October 8 (her birthday), you have a good chance of finding me hiding under a table.

2005-08-23 12:24:48
11.   gvette
#10-Actually, the one thing possibly worse than relatives with decade long grudges planning funerals, is those same relatives with those decade long grudges haggling over the estate.
2005-08-23 12:25:28
12.   Bob Timmermann
We can offline and swap horror stories.
2005-08-23 12:32:00
13.   gvette
Bob, unfortunately I'm only about ten days into my "horror story". It's beginning to make Milton vs Kent look like a stroll in the park!
2005-08-23 12:46:07
14.   Bob Timmermann
I always thought that Nate's passing on "Six Feet Under" would bother me because his character was born the same year as me, but it didn't. I must be more accepting of the fact that I'm going to be 40 in a few months

The Nate character was shown as being deeply affected by Kurt Cobain's death. I must admit that I barely listened to his music and his death meant little to me.

I did have a friend from junior high who called me up me weeping when John Lennon was shot. Name dropping, it was John Heilemann, who writes for "Wired" now. I was really surprised once when I saw his face on CNN. The guy looks almost exactly like he did in 9th grade, except for the receding hairline.

2005-08-23 12:56:17
15.   Jim Hitchcock
The thing that really started to lose, as Jon alludes to, as the seasons of SFU, was the deliberate bleakness of the characters. They just did not know how to lighten up, or want to.

Which is why I found Dead Like Me such a refreshing counterbalance to SFU. I think they do a wonderful job of presenting the absurdities and humor inherant to life, and a much more philosophical approach to the whole shebang. Unlike as presented in SFU, we're not all drama queens all the time.

And Mandy Patinkin...well, that dude can flat out act.

2005-08-23 12:58:12
16.   Jim Hitchcock
Whoops, preview is my friend...

...started to lose me, as Jon alludes to, as the seasons of SFU wore on...

2005-08-23 13:02:36
17.   Monterey Chris

I'm a pastor so I deal with funerals on a regular basis. Family dynamics are fascinating at both death and marriage. No matter how much or how little I know the family, I never know what I am stepping into.

2005-08-23 13:04:28
18.   Marty
I've gone through three deaths in my immediate family, both parents and and a brother. It's never easy, but you have to get through it. I'm lucky to have (what's left of) a family that has never been at war with each other and there was never a problem with dealing with estates. I probably am in the minority on that.

I'm guessing that's why my biggest complaint on six feet under, how they cannot seem to get on with their lives. I watched all 5 years and liked the show, and I realize it would be hard to write an entertaining show if the family wasn't so dysfunctional, but it's still annoying to me. I wanted to strangle Claire a few times because she couldn't stop thinking about herself and go offer some comfort to the family. Maybe that's why it was a good show since it could make me feel so strongly about some of the characters.

2005-08-23 13:04:51
19.   Bob Timmermann
I enjoyed "Dead Like Me" also and was sorry that Showtime canned it in favor of "Fat Actress". However, "Dead Like Me" veered off course a bit with the Eric McCormick supblot.

Now Mandy Patinkin joins the latest in a series of forensic procedurals. Because you know those scientists can find out who did ANYTHING.

2005-08-23 13:07:17
20.   Marty
I never really watched Cheers that regularly. What year did it seriously start going downhill?
2005-08-23 13:10:27
21.   LAT
11 When I was in law school and took wills and trusts we had to read all these cases about people fighting tooth and nail over the sofa, china, dog bowl and the like. I thought to myself people don't really behave like this. Who cares who gets the chipped, ugly, 30yr old tea server.

Then my grandmother passed away and the bickering was unbelieveable. There is that line where once you cross it you are an undeniable disrespectful money-grubbing hier. While no one in my family actually crossed it, many had no problem getting their toes right against it. After sometime of this I felt myself being drawn into the fray and fighting with relatives for things that I didn't really want in the first place. Then I realized, its not that I was caught up in what I was getting but in what everyone else was getting. In the end, we all agreed she would have prefered that we give the stuff to her favorite charity than fight about it. We did so with no regrets(with one exception, but that's another story).

2005-08-23 13:10:47
22.   Jim Hitchcock
Wow, I didn't know it had been cancelled. That's a real shame. I slooged through one episode and won't be back. Same with The Comeback. Same with the Hank Azaria thing.

Oh, well, guess I'll have to suck it up and watch Weeds...

2005-08-23 13:14:06
23.   Jim Hitchcock
Because you know those scientists can find out who did ANYTHING.

No doubt there will soon be a show where The Forces Of Good over Evil, aka proponents of intelligent design, regularly rout those pesky scientists.

2005-08-23 13:19:49
24.   gcrl
jon, i also know the power of tv deaths - i remember feeling a loss while walking to class the morning after gary sheperd died on "thirtysomething".
2005-08-23 13:46:41
25.   dagwich
You know, I also understand the power of TV -- good shows (be they PBS, commercial, news, sports, etc) and bad. My wife (well, wife to be back then) and I totally unplugged in the 80's because the TV did not mix well with our goal finishing of grad school. TV can be addictive like any drug and we went cold turkey.

Until October 1988, when the Dodgers made the post-season. Orel's scoreless streak and the magic of that team "pulled me back" in. I came home with a 12 inch black and white set from Goodwill, to much eye-rolling from you know who. Even though the reception sucked, I got about 75% of the essence of the game, good enough to make that postseason the most memorable for me.

We've since upgraded to a 13 inch color set with a VHS player that we can still unplug and put in the cabinet. So no SFU (or Daily Show, or any other cable/dish stuff -- or baseball!) for me unless I get the DVD and watch on the computer. I have had 3 close friends about my age (51) die this year (2 of cancer, 1 took his own life) and that's enough for me.

2005-08-23 14:06:50
26.   Jon Weisman
20 There was no season like the first season, but the show basically held its own through the Shelley Long years. Without putting all the blame on her, the less said about the Kirstie Alley era, the better. They seemed to change the show to fit her personality, and it was like a slow-motion car wreck.
2005-08-23 14:12:22
27.   Icaros
As an only child, I take comfort in the fact that when my parents pass on (hopefully many decades from now) I won't have to worry about estate bickering or anything like that.

On the other hand, I'll be completely alone in the world with a lot of business to take care of all by myself.

Sounds fun...

2005-08-23 14:13:12
28.   Howard Fox
I missed the episode where Nate did he die?
2005-08-23 14:14:29
29.   Jon Weisman
15 Northern Exposure for me has been the show that has best captured the spirit of what you're writing about. Anyone remember the Cicely-Roslyn episode, or the episode where Ruth dances on her own grave?

I never saw "Dead Like Me" - but Mandy has been amazing in everything he's done, from Evita to Princess Bride to Elmo in Grouchland.

I looked at the Six Feet Under characters not as drama queens, but embodiments of everything that can go wrong in our lives. There were certainly characters that wore on me from time to time - I never liked Brenda - but the show was a tragedy, a stage to explore the depths of humanity. Few projects will take on that challenge and even fewer will do it well. I don't go to Macbeth or Antigone expecting a happy ending.

My cousin James wrote and directed a movie several years ago, Little Odessa, which was bleak and not surprisingly, did not have popular success. But nepotism aside, I was so impressed by it. I really thought it found the nuances of suffering.

2005-08-23 14:15:31
30.   Jon Weisman
28 - a more severe recurrence of the brain thingie that nearly killed him a couple of years ago. It happened to occur just after he was cheating on his wife.
2005-08-23 14:18:14
31.   Howard Fox
just chiming in here...the final episode was a great show, but such a downer...

we watch all the Law & Order and all the death and mystery shows, but this finale took the cake...

we loved Claire...she was the best...just like we love the gothic girl on NCIS...she is so cute...

2005-08-23 14:19:31
32.   TerryAustin
28 I believe it was a slow-motion car accident involving a somewhat-overweight actress.
2005-08-23 14:19:43
33.   Marty
29. Jon, your paragraph on Little Odessa (which I have not seen) makes me think of "House of Sand and Fog". Check it out if you have'nt seen it. Amazing acting for such a bleak movie. Ben Kingsley is, as usual, terrific.
2005-08-23 14:20:35
34.   Howard Fox
20 yeah, the Cheers show went downhill when the Jenny Craig spokeswoman came on the went from funny to silly with her arrival
2005-08-23 14:23:49
35.   Icaros
The show may have gone downhill with her arrival, but I always found Kirstie Allie more attractive than Shelly Long.

Even weighing 500 pounds, she's not ugly.

2005-08-23 14:27:32
36.   Jon Weisman
33 - Good call. We saw House of Sand and Fog this month, and were amazed Sir Ben did not get nominated for an Oscar.
2005-08-23 14:33:06
37.   Telemachos
House of Sand and Fog has beautiful, stunning performances... but I've always felt the script bent over backwards to force the "bleak ending". I believed the characters and their motivations... up to that point.

However, I'd totally recommend it as well.

I've never been much of a "Six Feet Under" fan, but my wife is -- and she was tremendously moved by the finale.

Any "Deadwood" fans here? I've only seen the first season so far, but it's definitely some of the best TV I've seen in years (along with "Lost").

2005-08-23 14:34:31
38.   Bob Timmermann
Sir Ben was nominated for Best Actor for "The House of Sand and Fog."
2005-08-23 14:35:50
39.   Jon Weisman
I love Lost. I think I would have learned to love Deadwood had I stuck with it, but I didn't stick with it. But man, it sure has some diehard fans.
2005-08-23 14:36:41
40.   Bob Timmermann
I love "Deadwood". Perhaps more than any other show I've ever seen on TV.

But I don't think we can properly discuss it in a blog where there is a strict no swearing policy.

That would eliminate about 90% of the dialog.

I don't even think I can link to the site that counts the profanities in "Deadwood" because it's not a worksafe link.

2005-08-23 14:38:10
41.   Jon Weisman
38 - Oh. Never mind. We looked at the wrong year - undoubtedly because we were seeing the movie so late.
2005-08-23 14:38:42
42.   Nagman
Funny, here at work I can't find anybody to discuss SFU with but here at DT, there is a roomful. I loved the show and will miss it terribly.

Luckily, with the Dodgers, there won't be a 'series finale' for a long time (don't tell the people in Brooklyn that).

Deadwood? Not enough swearing for me.

2005-08-23 14:39:22
43.   Telemachos
39- Jon, It definitely takes a few episodes to warm up to, and Milch doesn't bother with any exposition, so for a while you feel completely lost: unless you're completely knowledgeable about the history, politics, and culture of the Dakota Territories in the 1870s. However, after a couple of episodes or so, you pretty much get the gist of things... and then you start to really enjoy the wonderful performances and how all the subplots start to link together (in an odd way, rather like things unfold in "Lost".)
2005-08-23 14:39:22
44.   Jon Weisman
There's never going to be any topping Hill Street for me.
2005-08-23 14:40:33
45.   Jim Hitchcock
Agree with Marty and Jon about HOSAF, Kingsley made that story real.

Marty, rent Little Odessa...I've seen it several times, and it's well worth it. Tim Roth was the perfect choice to play the lead, and IMO it's his best work (think Edward Norton in American History X), though 1900 was a great film also. Kudos to Jon's cousin.

Northern Exposure was a great series...started watching it on cable reruns,and it fell off the map not long after. I vaguely remember the dancing on the grave bit.

2005-08-23 14:40:40
46.   Icaros
37 I've never seen House of Sand and Fog, but since it is an adaptation of a novel by Andre Dubus III (which I also haven't read), I wonder if the script is forcing things or if that's just how the story goes.

I really like Deadwood and think it is the closest thing to modern-day Shakespeare there is, complete with soliloquys and (at least to my ear) iambic pentameter.

2005-08-23 14:46:25
47.   Bob Timmermann
You've got it exactly right, Icaros. It's supposed to be like Shakespeare.

I've actually read "The House of Sand and Fog" and my copy of it I read had an "Oprah's Book Club" logo on it that I tried to obscure when I was in public because I wanted to maintain that "he-man" image that all librarians give off. The book was very good. It was very draining, so I didn't want to watch the film because I knew what was going to happen.

2005-08-23 14:46:28
48.   Jim Hitchcock
It didn't really occur to me till after I posted the Edward Furlong as doomed younger brother link between American History X and Little Odessa.
2005-08-23 14:48:17
49.   Icaros
Edward Norton in American History X

I had such high hopes for him after seeing that film. What happened?

Admittedly, I haven't seen everything he's done since. Was that Spike Lee movie he did any good?

2005-08-23 14:49:23
50.   dagwich
Can someone explain the premise of "Lost" to me? People at work have talked about it but frankly you guys carry more credibility with me. In all seriousness, what is compelling about it?
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2005-08-23 14:52:44
51.   Bob Timmermann
"Lost" is simply a mystery with some supernatural overtones when you get right down to it.

People on plane crash on mysterious island. They aren't found by people. No one knows where they are. Weird things happen. Backstories of characters intertwine.

I didn't think I would like it, but my girlfriend made me tape episodes for her when she was on vacation. And I watched them with her and got hooked.

We don't talk to each other on Wednesday nights in the fall because of the show. We don't want to spoil the episode for the other person.

2005-08-23 14:53:37
52.   Jim Hitchcock
49 - Thought Norton was good in Fight Club, and he was great in The Score, a fairly dismal movie.

The less said about The Italian Job the better...

2005-08-23 14:55:35
53.   Jim Tracy
For me, the most lump-in-the-throat, out-of-the-blue death news was teh announcement on M*A*S*H, when Col. Henry Blake's plane was shot down. That just made me really really sad. I, to this day, never can understand why they would't just let him go home to his family, instead of having him die. I always used to worry that they'd do something like that to BJ, because they had shown such a strong attachment between him and his family.
2005-08-23 14:58:10
54.   Suffering Bruin
Some very touching stuff on this thread so please excuse me for bringing up something completely different...

The Dan Patrick Show on ESPN Radio had Kieth Olbermann as a guest. Olbermann told this story:

In Florida, Brad Penny told one of the clubhouse boys that he would pay him $500 dollars if he could drink a gallon of milk without throwing up. Some of the other Dodger players got into it and the wager went all the way up to a thousand dollars. According to Olbermann, the guy gave it a shot but "didn't make it."

The things you hear on the radio...

2005-08-23 14:59:42
55.   Jim Hitchcock
BTW, Jon is right about Hill Street Blues. Anyone disagreeing with that opinion is sentenced to watch two seasons of Flamingo Road.
2005-08-23 15:00:39
56.   Icaros
I also thought Gary Oldman would have been a bit more accomplished at this point as well, but I hear he's had issues with the usual demons.

I loved him and Tim Roth in "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead", thought he made a good Beethoven in "Immortal Beloved", a good evil cop in "The Professional," and even liked "Dracula", despite the curse of Keanu.

2005-08-23 15:01:18
57.   JJoeScott
54 It's a sucker bet. It's physically impossible to drink a gallon of milk at one sitting. One of the mysteries of life ... to tie it back to SFU.

SFU finale was very, very good. So was the Cheers finale, come to think of it.

2005-08-23 15:01:52
58.   Jon Weisman
53 - Yeah, that was something. I think the reason for it was some combination of a) wanting to depict that tragedy was all around us and b) annoyance at McLean Stevenson's contract squabble.

Hello Larry
You talk to people all day for a living
But about all those answers you are giving
Are you really living your life that way?
Portland is a long way from L.A.

R.I.P., McLean


On the movie front ... Shadowlands, anyone?

2005-08-23 15:03:55
59.   Icaros
It's a sucker bet. It's physically impossible to drink a gallon of milk at one sitting.

Kind of like the impossibility of folding a piece of paper on itself more than eight times?

2005-08-23 15:04:56
60.   Jim Tracy
59 - Kinda like licking your elbow
2005-08-23 15:05:50
61.   Icaros
60 I think Gene Simmons can do that.
2005-08-23 15:06:56
62.   Jim Tracy
I don't think I like the visual
2005-08-23 15:07:32
63.   Jim Hitchcock
Oldman is terrific. I really liked his comic turn in The Fifth Element. But, hey, also thought Kevin Kline was terrific in A fish Called Wanda.
2005-08-23 15:07:51
64.   Suffering Bruin
Ed Norton told one of the all-time funniest stories on Letterman.

Norton was in "The Score" with Robert DeNiro and Marlon Brando. As Norton told it, the three were only on screen together twice and only once for any significant period of time. It was a dinner scene; Brando at the head of the table, DeNiro and Norton on either side of him. At this point in the shooting of the film, Brando had made it all too clear that he was no longer going to listen to the director. Norton implied on the show that Brando was very, uh, "eccentric" during the shoot.

Anywho, the three of them are in the scene, the Director calls "Action" and Brando immediately starts improvising. He picks up a pitcher of liquid and starts pouring it into a glass while mumbling some dialogue. Brando kept pouring the liquid until the glass started to overflow. The director does not call out "cut." The liquid starts to spill into Brando's lap. Still no word from the director. Finally, the liquid spills onto the floor which starts making noise and the Director calls out "cut."

According to Norton, "I looked over at DeNiro to see what he thinks about all of this... and DeNiro's asleep. So after the Director calls out "cut", DeNiro wakes up, looks at me and smiles and says, 'I fell asleep, didn't I?'"

2005-08-23 15:14:43
65.   Icaros
But, hey, also thought Kevin Kline was terrific in A fish Called Wanda.

Agree completely.

2005-08-23 15:16:01
66.   Telemachos
One of the more bizarrely memorable shots I've seen is Brando and his midget twin, both dressed in muumuus, playing the piano in "The Island of Dr. Moreau."
2005-08-23 15:16:22
67.   Icaros
I don't think I like the visual

His own elbow, not mine.

2005-08-23 15:19:49
68.   Jim Tracy
Oh... that makes it better.
2005-08-23 15:20:49
69.   Ryan Wilkins
For what it's worth, the good folks at do a pretty good run-down of Ed Norton's project decisions. I think I compared his career to that of Troy Glaus's in an article I wrote a few years ago -- and while the analogy doesn't hold up, the descent from a white-hot second effort is certainly similar. Damn, what happened?


2005-08-23 15:23:01
70.   Jim Hitchcock
Then there are examples of comic turns going completely south, as in Patrick Stewart in `Jeffrey'...
2005-08-23 15:23:18
71.   the OZ
58 - Shadowlands is about CS Lewis, is that correct?

I haven't seen it, but I seem to remember my folks talking about it in a good way.

2005-08-23 15:24:18
72.   jasonungar05
Deadwood is by far my favorite show on TV. I admit I have to watch each episode twice and then a third time with the closed captions on...

Gary Oldham was excellent in Batman Begins. His performance was sublte but great. I really thought he was great in the Professional, the contender and State of Grace with Sean Penn as well.

2005-08-23 15:24:59
73.   dagwich
51 Thanks Bob. I still don't quite get it but I'll invest time in an episode or so. We don't usually get started on good drama series for the first year or two (or three). So we didn't get hooked on "West Wing" until everybody said it had started downhill. But we were riveted by the show last year.

65 Me too, especially enjoyed Kevin Kline. My friend, who has a serious stutter, hated that movie, and even wrote an article about why he hated it in the local weekly indepdendent paper.

2005-08-23 15:27:56
74.   King of the Hobos
57 Sucker bet? Physically impossible? I can do it, watch me =D

As for the elbow, my short left humerus makes it almost possible for me. With Gene Simmons' tongue, I could do it easy

2005-08-23 15:28:40
75.   Icaros
69 Interesting link, Ryan. I honestly never knew about the Courtney Love thing. Yuck.
2005-08-23 15:28:46
76.   Peanuts in My Shoes
53 For me, it was the final The Wonder Years episode, when the Kevin Arnold voiceover says, "Wayne took over the factory three years later when Dad passed away..." That really, really got to me. In fact, just typing that right now gave me chills. Kevin's dad reminded me a lot of my own dad (who was ill at the time), and I wept big time.
2005-08-23 15:30:10
77.   Icaros
My friend, who has a serious stutter, hated that movie, and even wrote an article about why he hated it in the local weekly indepdendent paper.

Did he stutter in the article? I'm sorry, I couldn't resist.

2005-08-23 15:32:21
78.   Bob Timmermann
I think jumping into "Lost" after one year may be hard because there will be a lot to catch up on. There are a lot of characters on the show.

Of course, if you want to watch a show that's hard to catch up to in midstream try Eric Enders' favorite "The Wire". There are dozens of characters with many different arcs and sometimes they just disappear for entire seasons, although with good reason.

2005-08-23 15:38:12
79.   Icaros
Does anyone else here think the last two seasons of The Sopranos seem to have been written the night before each episode was shot?

I've been really confused by the way different storylines and characters seem to come and go each week without explanation. I sure hope that there is some sort of master plan in the works.

2005-08-23 15:39:37
80.   Telemachos
Personally, I love arc shows... I remember when they were the exception rather than the rule (it seems like most dramatic TV these days has serious arcs across episodes and seasons). I missed on some of the more seminal '80s shows (like Hill Street Blues) -- and because I'm a big science-fiction buff one of the first that really involved me was "Babylon 5". Hard to get involved with if you start watching partway through, but totally awesome if you're able to catch up on old episodes.
2005-08-23 15:41:25
81.   Bob Timmermann
Since there are more Sopranos episodes to come than anticipated, I have a feeling that David Chase will be making it up as he goes along.

There is always someone who comes into an episode and you have to think "Oh, that's the guy from the first year who did this...."

Tony's dream episode where he met all the dead people really helped me catch up.

2005-08-23 15:41:46
82.   GoBears
79. Well, we know that's not true - they write and shoot the whole season at once. Having seen every episode (first 4 seasons on DVD, then with friends who have HBO), I'd say there was a lull, but that the end of last season really picked back up. Now I just hope I live long enough to see the next season (now due next January, yeah right), and the final, short season (due later that same year).
2005-08-23 15:44:34
83.   molokai
My wife and I were regular SFU watchers but we didn't watch the last two seasons as the characters and stories just didn't seem worth my time if I was going to waste so many hours watching the Dodgers. Several weeks ago we caught a glimpse of the episode in which Nate dies and my wife decided to start watching again. She taped the final show and implored me to watch it. She loved the final show but I thought it was complete sucktitude and I'm tired of characters having so many problems that they are walking advertisments for mental health practictioners just solve all their pyscho problems in one hour.
Did enjoy the epiloge.
A real ending would have had Claire killing someone while driving in her drunken stupor and then find the family has brought the body/bodies to her family funeral parlor to be buried. It was a chicken ass ending. JMO

Everytime I see a person in the shape of the soldier who kills himself I think of "Johnny Got His Gun". I read it when I was 15 and have never had the urge to kill myself. This is a book that should be read by everyone. JMO

2005-08-23 15:50:02
84.   Bob Timmermann
Not a member of the Alan Ball Marching and Chowder Society are we? ;-)

I have a coworker who hated SFU and hated "American Beauty" 10 times as much.

2005-08-23 15:52:33
85.   Icaros
Well, we know that's not true - they write and shoot the whole season at once.

Yeah, I know that's how they do it. But the last two seasons have seemed pretty scattershot from episode to episode, IMO. Something will happen, like when Meadow's fiance caught the guy going down on that guy in the car, then we never hear or see anything more about it.

Like I said, I'm still holding out hope that a lot of this stuff will tie together in the end. But the first three seasons seemed better at providing some closure.

I really hope that Russian guy who escaped in the snow comes back at some point.

2005-08-23 15:52:59
86.   Nagman
Regarding the SUF finale, as I watched claire drive on the empty road I was waiting for that giant truck to come over the next hill in the wrong lane. I'm glad it didn't.
2005-08-23 15:53:14
87.   Berkeley Doug
Let me put my two cents in for "St. Elsewhere", perhaps my favorite show of all time. Although, I was also a big fan of "The Dukes of Hazard" and "Magnum P.I." so you can see my taste in TV shows is perhaps a bit lacking.

FWIW I loved the finale of SFU, except I thought they could have found a better way for Keith to have died. All the other characters seemed to have died while at peace with their lives or in a moment of happiness (o.k. except for Rico), but to have Keith shot just seemed silly.

Hope I didn't spoil the show for anyone who hasn't seen it.

2005-08-23 15:53:19
88.   Jim Hitchcock
GoBears is right. The 4th season of Sopranos was pretty scattershot, but it started to pick up mid 5th season.

The episode Bob mentioned is great (I see dead people!). My personal favorite would have to be the `lost in the barrens' episode (Christopher chowing down on the packets of ketchup).

2005-08-23 15:55:14
89.   Berkeley Doug
88 And don't forget Paulie losing his shoes and taking carpet from car to try to make a shoe.
2005-08-23 15:55:29
90.   Jon Weisman
Well, I liked Johnny Got His Gun.

But I feel like Six Feet Under is the epitome of a show that didn't have characters solve their problems in an hour. Not all problems were solved, some of the solutions are no doubt temporary, and the more permanent solutions certainly were longer than an hour in the making.

2005-08-23 15:57:05
91.   Jon Weisman
87 - I thought about putting in spoiler warnings, but I felt like it was clear enough that I was talking about the finale before I started revealing details.

The depiction of Keith's death was the most disappointing for me as well.

I think we're all waiting for the man in the snow in "the Sopranos" to return.

2005-08-23 15:58:17
92.   Jim Hitchcock
Have to admit I got more hooked on St. Elsewhere than I did on Hill St. Uh oh, Flamingo Rd. here I come.

Rico died on the cruise, right? Not sure why that wouldn't be a momrnt of happiness.

2005-08-23 16:00:15
93.   Berkeley Doug
92 Well I was no fan of Vanessa, so I can imagine he would have been unhappy for many years at that point.
2005-08-23 16:01:37
94.   Icaros
88, 89 - I love when Paulie tells Christopher that the guy, who was in the Russian Interior, was an interior designer.

Christopher replies, "Really? His place looked like s---."

2005-08-23 16:02:47
95.   Berkeley Doug
94 That is perhaps my favorite line from "The Sopranos" ever.
2005-08-23 16:03:40
96.   dagwich
88 reminds me of my favorite TV show review. It was in the Washington Post with respect to "Medium." The review started out: "I see dead TV shows..."-- man, I got a good laugh out of that. I guess a reviewer could use that as boilerplate for at least half the new shows.

Add me to the list of people that liked "Hill Street Blues." We often end project meetings with "Be careful out there."

2005-08-23 16:04:04
97.   Jon Weisman
St. Elsewhere was great - I was a huge fan. Frankly, though I'm not sure I wouldn't take The White Shadow over it.
2005-08-23 16:04:32
98.   Jim Hitchcock
93 Excellent point!
2005-08-23 16:06:03
99.   Jon Weisman
My favorite review ever was for a Kevin Costner movie called "The War."

According to the Times, it was ...

What "Forrest Gump" would have been had Forrest Gump directed.

2005-08-23 16:08:10
100.   Jon Weisman
The final episodes of Six Feet Under implied that Rico and Vanessa finally understood their importance to each other and were starting fresh with the new funeral home. They've been very warm to each other.

Again, whether this would hold for 50 years, I don't know. But they made it clear that Vanessa's biggest concern with Rico was about trust, and this funeral home thing might have earned it back.

Show/Hide Comments 101-150
2005-08-23 16:09:03
101.   Berkeley Doug
97 To bring this fool circle to Hill Street Blues, I don't remember much about "The White Shadow" except that it reminds me of that great basketball movie "Fast Break" with Gabe "Welcome Back Carter" Kaplan and Michael Warren as "Preacher".
2005-08-23 16:09:41
102.   Jim Hitchcock
You know, I loved American Beauty (both the movie and the Grateful Dead album). Another good Kevin Spacey movie I saw a month or so ago was The Shipping News. Off beat, low key, but a fine movie. It was on IFC last night.
2005-08-23 16:09:59
103.   Berkeley Doug
101 To bring this [full] circle...
2005-08-23 16:12:21
104.   Berkeley Doug
100 I just know that in one of the earlier episodes this season that woman who died while roller blading had some choice words about Vanessa to Rico and they seemed quite apt.
2005-08-23 16:12:25
105.   Howard Fox
if you are talking great movies, how about "Life as a House" with Kevin Kline
2005-08-23 16:13:12
106.   Jim Hitchcock
Hey, I liked fool circle...
2005-08-23 16:13:17
107.   Xeifrank
Must not be any day baseball games today, not a single baseball post. See you when the game thread comes out on DT. Didn't Jon post a list a while back about how all the 2005 FA pitchers compared... and D.Lowe was somewhere near the middle of the pack or higher?
vr, Xei
2005-08-23 16:14:08
108.   Jon Weisman
Yeah, I liked Fast Break too.
2005-08-23 16:14:55
109.   Jon Weisman
There's a baseball post right below this one, Xeifrank.
2005-08-23 16:15:03
110.   Icaros
Has anyone ever seen the version of "Long Day's Journey Into Night" with Kevin Spacey, Jack Lemmon, and Peter Gallagher?

It's one of my favorite plays, but I've only seen the old Katherine Hepburn version.

2005-08-23 16:16:19
111.   Howard Fox
anything with Jack Lemmon was great
2005-08-23 16:16:33
112.   Marty
Got stuck in meetings. I hate that. Anyway I'll try to catch up.

Deadwood is easily the best show on right now and may be one of the all-time greats if they can keep it up. Al Swearingen is a treasure.

I loved Hill Street Blues when it was on, but find it painful to watch now becaue it is so dated. The Buntz character and the SWAT leader and low-life under cover detective are soooo cartoonish.

I keep meaning to try to catch up with Lost, but so far I've not seen one episode.

A Fish Called Wanda! "You owe me a p p p p p pound"

2005-08-23 16:17:40
113.   Jim Hitchcock
105 - Howard, thanks for mentioning that. I'd forgotten about it, though I always meant to see it. Added it to my Blockbuster queue.
2005-08-23 16:17:53
114.   Howard Fox
112 stuck in meetings? working? there's no working in baseball...
2005-08-23 16:19:17
115.   Howard Fox
of course, off topic, and not about death and dying, a couple of my all time favorites are City Slickers and A Few Good Men, oh and of course, Mr Holland's Opus
2005-08-23 16:20:16
116.   Marty
102 I know someone who was a huge fan of the Shipping news book and hated the movie because he said Spacey looked nothing like the character as described in the book.

In the same vein, I've refused to see One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. That is one of the only books that make me cry. It can't possibly be as good as the book since the book is told through the Indian's eyes. And I can't imagine Nicholson as McMurphy.

2005-08-23 16:20:53
117.   Mark
Okay, here's where the nerds come in: if you want great drama, you need to watch Battlestar Galactica -- the new one -- starting from EP 1 Season 1. The writers, cinematographers, and actors have all turned what used to be cheesy 70s sci-fi into a gripping drama that is very, very poignant for today's events. In the first episode alone, I noticed callouts to the Barry Goldwater commercial, the holocaust, Homer's Odyssey, and the Taliban. It is the only show on television, ever, that I have consistently wanted each episode to keep going. That isn't to say that there's a cliffhanger, just that you never want the show to end.
2005-08-23 16:21:35
118.   Jim Hitchcock
Ah, Michael Palin, hands tied, chips stuck up his, a fish tail sticking out of his mouth, and Kline immitating the stutter...
2005-08-23 16:21:51
119.   Suffering Bruin
Did someone on this thread mention "Shadowlands"? A teacher showed that at West Los Angeles College a few years back. Not a dry eye in the house, including mine. And I was seeing it for the second time.
2005-08-23 16:22:12
120.   Jim Hitchcock
...up his nose...
2005-08-23 16:22:46
121.   Yakface
Battlestar galactica...

The las of the mohicans was a great movie.

2005-08-23 16:23:16
122.   Suffering Bruin
I still say the two funniest films I ever saw in the theater were "Young Frankenstein" and "Blazing Saddles". The latter is the only time I've been in the theater where the laughter was so loud, half the time you couldn't hear the dialogue.
2005-08-23 16:23:41
123.   molokai
90I was only talking about the final episode.

Northern Exposure was probably my favorite running TV show followed very closely by Mash/Simpsons. I still watch the Soprano's but I'm probably the only one rooting for the fed's to bring the family down. Right now Deadwood is my only must watch show when it is on. Luckily HBO gives me many options as to when to watch it.
Weeds looks interesting if not for the content at least for the lead.

2005-08-23 16:23:53
124.   Howard Fox
I am an avid fan of Law & Order, West Wing, NCIS, but haven't watched shows consistently week in and week out since Dallas and Dynasty

now Dallas is on weekly on cable, and I can't understand why I was home every Friday night watching it

2005-08-23 16:24:59
125.   Yakface
122-Ha I just got young Frankentsein on DvD, it was only 7 bucks at target and has deleted scenes and interviews and waht nots.
2005-08-23 16:25:11
126.   Howard Fox
yeah Blazing Saddles did it for me too

when Mel Brooks was in the covered wagon going in circles by himself, I thought I'd pee in my pants

2005-08-23 16:25:45
127.   Howard Fox
sorry, when he came upon the wagon going in circles
2005-08-23 16:26:02
128.   Suffering Bruin
Alright, enough talk about great television shows where we all agree on the quality.

What is your guiltiest pleasure? A show where you mention it to friends and they look at you like they never really knew you?

May I nominate one of my guilty pleasures: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the first few seasons of which were absolutely terrific.

2005-08-23 16:26:09
129.   Jim Hitchcock
Just watched `Opus' again the other day. Never a big fan of Dreyfuss, he was absolutely great in it.

Marty, give it up. The movie version of Cuckoo's Nest was one of the few times cinema has done a book justice.

2005-08-23 16:26:37
130.   Howard Fox
2005-08-23 16:27:00
131.   Marty
SB, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein came out in the same year! Unbelievable.
2005-08-23 16:27:12
132.   Berkeley Doug
124 Two words...Victoria Principal
2005-08-23 16:27:40
133.   Jon Weisman
Are you kidding about Buffy? That's no guilty pleasure - that's sincere quality. And I've never taken any grief for loving it.
2005-08-23 16:27:55
134.   Berkeley Doug
128 Guilty pleasure - Gilmore Girls
2005-08-23 16:28:09
135.   Howard Fox
132 yeah she was hot then, but now looking at the reruns, what was I thinking?
2005-08-23 16:28:41
136.   Yakface
128-A guilty pleasure? I sometimes watch angles games.
2005-08-23 16:28:43
137.   Suffering Bruin
131 That blows me away. I never knew that, never suspected it. I think 90% of the country thinks that Saddles came first.
2005-08-23 16:29:20
138.   Howard Fox
129 yeah Cuckoo's Nest was a great was the Shining
2005-08-23 16:29:22
139.   Marty
Guilty pleasure: Cops
2005-08-23 16:29:39
140.   Yakface
Saddles was completed first.
2005-08-23 16:30:32
141.   Marty
137 Well, technically I think it did. I think Saddles was earlier in the year.
2005-08-23 16:30:37
142.   Jim Hitchcock
128 Sorry, SB, that hasn't happened to me since `Rich Man, Poor Man' :)
2005-08-23 16:30:38
143.   Yakface
I know that because Gene Wilder did'nt approach Mel with the Idea of young Frank until Mel was in post production with Saddles.
2005-08-23 16:30:53
144.   Suffering Bruin
133 Thank you! But you'd be amazed how many of my Westwood friends--mostly other parents--look at me with a crinkled up nose and raised eyebrows when I mention how good Buffy is. I got into the damndest argument one time with some entertainment types about how Sarah Michelle Gellar should've gotten an Emmy nomination but nobody took the show seriously because of the title.

It was a great show, IMHO.

2005-08-23 16:31:58
145.   Jon Weisman
Did you all know that the original title of "War and Peace" was "War, What Is It Good For?"
2005-08-23 16:31:58
146.   Howard Fox
how about "House"
2005-08-23 16:33:28
147.   Suffering Bruin
145 as perhaps the most gullible guy on the thread, if not the world, I have to ask: are you serious? Are talking about Tolstoy's book here?
2005-08-23 16:34:00
148.   Rick A
Whether you like Norton and/or Spike Lee or not, 25th Hour is an amazing movie.

It is a beautiful, terrible, heart-wrenching vision of what has become of the American dream. This is one of the few movies were Spike doesn't force an unwieldy ending on us.

2005-08-23 16:34:13
149.   Jim Hitchcock
145 - No kidding! Wow.

Channelling Edwin Starr there.

2005-08-23 16:34:19
150.   Tim B
Does anybody else here watch Arrested Development? Love that show.
Show/Hide Comments 151-200
2005-08-23 16:34:28
151.   Suffering Bruin
I'll bet the other baseball blogs can't get 150 posts in midday talking about television.
2005-08-23 16:35:39
152.   Yakface
150-My soon to be wifes brother,is a stand in on that show.
2005-08-23 16:36:27
153.   Howard Fox
150 every time I see the promos for it, I make a mental note to watch it, it looks so funny...ask me if I have ever seen a single episode of it
2005-08-23 16:37:20
154.   bokonon42
49- The Spike Lee movie (with Ed Norton) was The 25th Hour and I loved it. I thought Norton was a little wimpy looking, for the role, but overall it was nearly as good as Mo' Better Blues or Jungle Fever. Better than He Got Game; way better than Bamboozled; not as good as (almost nothing is) Do the Right Thing.

Even if you can't get in to the story, Rosario Dawson and Anna Paquin get enough screen time to make the rental worth while.

2005-08-23 16:38:20
155.   Rick A
Didn't get to see Long Days Journey, but I have seen "A Life in the Theatre" with Matthew Broderick, and Jack Lemmon based on Mamets play of the same name. Good stuff. Good luck finding it though.
2005-08-23 16:39:48
156.   Jon Weisman
Arrested Development is great.

147 - You're no more gullible than Elaine Benes.

2005-08-23 16:40:35
157.   Jim Hitchcock
While I liked the movie version of The Shining, it was a lot different than the book.

The movie version of The Stand was pretty great. Damn, I've loved that book everytime I've read it.

BTW, if any of you are fans of The Stand, and haven't read Swansong by Rob't McGammon, what are you waiting for!

2005-08-23 16:40:46
158.   Telemachos
Guilty pleasure: "Street Hawk" (sort of an "Airwolf" ripoff about a dude and his kickass black stealth motorcycle).

Of course, this was back when I was a kid.

117 Everyone keeps telling me how awesome "Battlestar Galactica" is. One of these days I'll torrent it and get to watching.

2005-08-23 16:42:57
159.   bokonon42
105- Wow. Did you really like My Life as a House, or are you having us on?
2005-08-23 16:43:58
160.   Howard Fox
159 it was a great movie
2005-08-23 16:46:07
161.   CanuckDodger
I have to say I was pretty surprised by Jon's comments on Cheers, because my opinion of Cheers is pretty much the direct opposite of his. I believe Cheers started out weak, and got stronger as time went on. The eleventh, and final, season was probably the series' best, in my opinion.

The first season of Cheers was not exactly bad, and there was enough of interest to keep me watching, but it was still pretty weak. There was only one episode in the entire first season that I considered better than fair -- episode 17, titled, "Diane's Perfect Date." In that episode, Sam and Diane agree to set each other up on dates with people they each think would be prefect for the other person. Sam thinks that Diane is just going to present herself to him as his ideal date, so he does not bother to find a man to go out with Diane. When Diane later introduces Sam to the woman she has selected for him, Sam is stunned, and after some hectic scurrying about, he gets a guy from the back of the bar he does not know to pretend to be a friend of his whom he has selected to go on a date with Diane. Once Diane starts chatting with Sam's "friend," it starts to become evident to Diane, and the TV audience, that the man is mentally unhinged, with the gradually escalating disaster culminating in the fellow revealing to Diane that until recently he was locked up for killing a waitress. Now THAT'S comedy.

2005-08-23 16:49:20
162.   bokonon42
160- Maybe my antipathy for Mr. Christiansen clouded my judgement.
2005-08-23 16:52:59
163.   Telemachos
162- Say what you will about Darth Anakin, but he was damned good in "Shattered Glass".
2005-08-23 16:55:45
164.   Marty
Did anyone here ever see Cop Rock, the Bochco cop/musical show? Ufda, some kinda bad....
2005-08-23 17:01:58
165.   bokonon42
163- He was only good in that because the role called for a whiney crybaby. He was put in a position to succeed.
2005-08-23 17:02:30
166.   Jim Hitchcock
164 - I'm pretty sure that's why the phrase `the dustbin of history' came into being.
2005-08-23 17:03:47
167.   CanuckDodger
I loved Cop Rock. I still have all the episodes on video. Good characters, and some of the songs were outstanding.
2005-08-23 17:13:13
168.   Jon Weisman
161 - that was a great episode, Canuck, but there were so many others that year too.
2005-08-23 18:48:02
169.   Fearing Blue
#167: As a lurker in this thread, I wanted to add that I no longer trust anything Canuck has to say about Dodgers prospects. Cop Rock?!? :)

I tend to think that I like good television (Deadwood, Sopranos, West Wing, etc.) and my wife likes garbage (All My Children, Survivor, The O.C., etc.), but I will readily admit that The O.C. is now one of my my favorite guilty pleasures.

I was so excited when I first got a TiVO until my wife started using it for evil (i.e. daytime soaps). Fortunately, lack of free time has forced her to focus on the highest quality of her low quality shows, which now rules out All My Children. Althought, at this point, the 40 stored episodes of Blues Clues don't leave room for much else.

2005-08-24 08:22:29
170.   Colorado Blue
I find that my favorite shows, in my perception, get worse as time goes on...
The Sopranos
Law & Order (the original... remember George Dzunda?)
Six Feet Under

I'm hoping that Deadwood continues to entertain me as well as it has in its first 2 seasons.

As for SFU, I had really tired of watching it, but my wife (who never watched the show regularly) and I sat together and watched the finale. We were both haunted for a full day just as Jon was. This made it that powerful. And yes, when I layed down to sleep the epilogue kept playing over and over in my head... I still have that song in there.

Here's to the Sopranos improving in seasons 6 and 6 1/2!

2005-08-26 02:04:48
171.   Tommy Naccarato
Jim Hitchcock,
I too really liked Dead Like Me, and I'm pissed at Showtime for canceling it, as well as MGM who messed with the creator of the show.

However the new Shotime show, "Weeds" isn't too bad.

Jon got me hooked on Arrested Development. whenever I see LA Law on TV, I watch it. Boston Legal is like the modern day LA Law, and William Shatner is hilarious, as is James Spader.

I can hardly wait for the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Same with the Sopranos.

As far as SFU, well I too thought the series finale was really a great way to end it all. Sort of like the 2005 Los Angeles Dodgers! :)

2005-08-26 02:08:02
172.   Tommy Naccarato
I also forgot to mention that I really like Entourage. I think its a really fun show.

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