Robert Goulet has died.
I’m gonna miss him being about. He falls into an interesting class of people respectable in their field who are nonetheless willing to do anything for money, not afraid of losing their respectability. The most recent example of this was in a Super Bowl ad, but a couple earlier examples come to mind, my favorite being him playing himself as a lecherous pageant judge on Nikki.
But the reason that this has an extra kick is, well, I know someone with the same lung disease he had. Someone ironing out the details of getting on the lung transplant list even now. The failure of Goulet to get a transplant in time just makes that situation all the darker.
Robert Goulet has died.
John McWhorter is a pundit who gets his word out a fair amount — at times perhaps more because he’s a well-spoken black guy speaking outside of the commonly believed black common stance than because he’s actually speaking within his specialty; he’s a linguistic guy by background. (And please note that I’m not holding anything against John; he seems to be speaking earnestly, and even though I often disagree with him or find his logic less than complete and compelling, he’s certainly not one of today’s shrill and unreasonable voices.)
Anyway, that’s all context. He was on public radio tonight talking about how folks shouldn’t react so much to the recent use of nooses, and when one caller made the ridiculous suggestion that McWhorter might feel the same way if black folks were actually found hanging from them, McWhorter noted that in the face of a changing situation, he’s quite capable of changing his tune and frequently has.
And that made me grin. Because, you see, I used to change his tune.
And I mean that literally. Mr. McWhorter and I attended college together. And one day, in the college library, I discovered something. He was doing some work in a room that I was passing through whilst I was humming a tune… and when I passed back through that room, he was whistling that tune. So I hummed a different tune, came back through a few minutes later, and he had picked up that one as well. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t aware of it, and it just seemed to me an interesting case of the way things run below the consciousness, and the way music hits us internally.
I think I did that to him one more time that day, and a few more times after. Cheap amusement, I know.
I’ve been hearing from folks who are aware that I’m based in Southern California, and are concerned.
We’re not in the San Diego area, where the worst of it is. We’re further north, in the greater Los Angeles district. We did have a fire close enough that it was filling the sky with smoke and making everything very eerie, but that fire has been extinguished. The nearest fire now is the one in the Malibu area, and that’s close to 20 miles away. The air quality ain’t what we’d want it to be, but we’re not at risk, not likely to be evacuated.
From a not-intentionally-snarky press release for an awards ceremony:
SCREAM 2007 did not fail to disappoint the audience with its wide array of talent and ground breaking performances.
- Pushing Daisies
- Samantha Who?
- Aliens in America
Could go either way
- Dirty, Sexy Money
- Chuck (addled by time slot)
Kept watching for multiple episodes, but now giving the ax:
- Big Shots
The find of the season is still reruns of Corner Gas.
- Sesame Street usually has a name guest-star or two in their episodes, generally used in obvious ways. But who said “we have a pirate sketch, we need Tina Fey”? Admittedly, it’s a book-loving pirate (a bookaneer, of course), but still…
- So the teasers for tonight’s local news kept pushing the “what were investigators looking for when they raided David Copperfield’s warehouse?”, and the answer seemed obvious to me: the Statue of Liberty.
…and it’s paper-thin and will soon throw in the towel.
Look, there’s nothing wrong with thinking “how can we make a series musical work on TV”. There’ve been some interesting failures along the way. But Viva Laughlin? This ain’t the answer. They throw it into an not particularly apt story (drama around a new casino), pick existing hit songs that are far too on-the-mark for what’ they’re portraying (look, we can show Hugh Jackman is evil by having him sing “Sympathy for the Devil”! And that way we show off how we’re throwing our budget at the thing), and don’t know how to set or shoot a musical scene (hey, we’ve got Hugh Jackman, a guy who can really dance! Let’s show that by having each cut last a second, max!)
But the thing that will linger with me in regards to this series? The degree to which the supposedly-tough central character, the man building the casino, the powerhouse, reminds me in both looks and delivery of Robert Reed… you know, the dad on the Brady Bunch.
No more for me.
Samantha Who? is about a gal who has amnesia. Not just any kind of amnesia – convenient amnesia, the kind that strikes TV characters, leaving them with reasonable working knowledge of the world and no knowledge of themself, and a clean slate for attitude.
But that’s not a complaint. This is just the central conceit of the series. You assume it and move on from there.
In this case, you move on to a good place. Now, I’ve never been a follower of Christine Applegate, and she comes across as competent but not amazing in her lead role. But then you start to see the other actresses filling out the show’s roster. The lovely Jennifer Esposito (part of the mighty roster of comedically talented women who were rotated through Spin City, until they finally gave up on looking for comedy talent and got Heather Locklear), Melissa McCarthy (of Gilmore Girls), and make-Nat-happiest-of-all, Jean Smart (rather than steering you to her various strong TV performances, let me remind you of her wonderfulicious performance in Garden State) all get to strut their stuff here.
So the story is about the fact that amnesiac Samantha doesn’t remember whot a scum she used to be… and ends up tripping over her past. But at the heart of this series, it’s about, well, the start of college. The time when you’re not sure who you’re supposed to be, and since nobody there knows who you are, you have a chance to redefine yourself — with all the potential mistakes that opportunity brings.
The logic of this is not all to be bought – even if her changes are to be a better person (which seems to be the intent), they would likely end up driving away those closest to her. But hey, that’s not the point. It’s a somewhat silly series, well-played (although whoever suggested that Jenna Elfman would’ve been a more brilliant fit for the lead is right, but Applegate is holding up her end), and well worth checking out.