The Artist is a good film, but it risks being deeply confusing. After all , the supporting female characters are the actress Peppy Miller and the one played by actress Penelope Miller. The male supporting characters are the star of Babe and the star of The Babe.
Lilyhammer is the first direct-to-Netflix series… well, semidirect to Netflix, as it’s also seeing air in Norway. Watching it, it becomes clear why Netflix is starting with this as their first original series – they were probably able to get it cheaply, with little competition to co-underwrite this. That’s because the series is largely subtitled… which makes it a lousy series for my needs, because I need something that I can listen to while doing relatively mindless computer work, and ony look up when something important seems to be happening. Spending my time reading subtitles does not play into that.
The basic concept is that Mafia man Steven Van Zandt gets the Federal Witness Protection Program to place him in Lillehammer, Norway. The immediate assumption is that this will be about the city-raised guy who moves to the hinterlands and finds himself amongst a batch of wacky locals – perhaps not quite as broad as Green Acres, but something in the tradition exemplified by Northern Exposure and continued in such series as BallyKissAngel and Men in Trees. But that seems to be a wrong assumption. The locals don’t seem particularly wacky; they’re quite normal. Judging by the first one, it plays off the contrast of styles, the hard-nosed criminal in a world not built for such types, a straighter My Blue Heaven. There is some suggestion that it will get more into crime-based conflict. The first one was smoothly done, some nice touches… but it didn’t grab me.
Netflix is smartly making all eight episodes available immediately, showcasing the advantages of streaming over standard broadcast. If it weren’t for the subtitle problem, I’d probably graze through another couple of episodes before making a firm decision; in a general way, it’s better than my current grazing series, Stephen Fry as a small-town lawyer in Kingdom. But I think that I’ll drop that for something else, not for this.
Oh, I’ve been a bad meatloaf-cum-shepherd’s pie blogger; I’ve not bothered to blog the last one or two, which were just basic. This has all become a standard here. But tonight’s will feature some different ingredients, including the meat:
- 1 pound ground chicken
- One leftover baked potato
- A wee bit of mixed veggies
- The last of the spicy hummus which someone brought to the Super Bowl party
- a couple rounds of rice
- some peas
- one large egg
- Basic mashed potatoes from a mix
Plus, I’m cooking it all in a round casserole, rather than a pie tin.
In a dyslexic split-second, I read the directions on the mashed potato mix, telling you not to add the milk until “Step 3″, as saying not to add it until “Sept 3″. That would have been a long wait for potatoes.
RESULT: Very food. Not amazing, but quite edible. The hummus gave things a pleasant tang. The potatoes tasted wat’ry.
(Yes, they could still mess things up, but….) Washington!
The Big Bang Theory always haunts me a little bit. It is, after all, set in a city where I used to live, at an institution where I used to hang out, with people doing things that I used to do (such as heading to the local comic shop.)
However, I just caught up on the last two episodes… and the most recent one, where the characters were talking about someone whose daughter I used to know, was trumped by the one before, where the characters were actually talking to a real person I’ve talked to (Astronaut Mike Massimino, whom I interviewed for The Peanuts Collection.)
The new series Smash, which airs starting next week but the first episode of which is available free via Amazon video now, is about the making of a Broadway musical. Now, there’s a lot of good stories to be told about making a Broadway musical, about the conception, financing, casting, and production…. but that all is a long process, and this being TV, they went to tell all of those stories at once. There are some rather silly plot convolutions done in order to be in the midst of everything which would normally flow in a logical order, with each step dependent on the prior. That’s the flaw here.
But what’s not flawed is the production of the TV show. They clearly threw a lot of money at this thing; just as an example, the musical they’re making is about Marilyn Monroe, so obviously they had to buy rights to the life story, as well as rights to part of various Marilyn movies they’re using as reference. The actors are good, and while the more recognizable names are taken from the big screen (Anjelica Huston) or small (Debra Messing), most of the cast is filled out with people better known on Broadway than in the rest of the country, and all do a good job. It takes itself seriously, the original musical numbers are reasonably well done (and to be clear, none of the music is about turning the world into a musical, it’s all things that would be performed in context, as songs are written and rehearsed for the musical… which means that if they add two new songs per episode, after a few seasons they’ll have a musical with hundreds of songs!)
So the question is whether the quality of the production will manage to overcome the artifice of its core, and make it interesting no matter how inaccurate. I cannot tell after the first one, but I shall watch more.