Highly Recommended Drama from India: Laakhon Mein Ek

Yes, you’ll need subtitles to understand what is going on, but this is a brilliant series that illustrates how corruption in high (or mid-level) places hurts needy people the most. Ordinary men and women lose incentive to try their best when they are caught in high-pressure circumstances created by those using the system for their own ends.

It sounds bleak, but it’s not. The acting, script, and story are excellent, the characters ring true, and the series maintains humor (okay, dark humor) every episode. The truths being told aren’t happy, but the depiction is artful and human.... [Read More]

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Trump v. CNN

“In a demand letter sent to CNN on Wednesday, an attorney working for the president outlined his intention to sue CNN for its willful misrepresentation of itself. For years, CNN has told viewers, advertisers, and sources that it is an unbiased, straight news outfit. That’s a lie, and the president’s lawyers believe it actually violates the federal Lanham Act’s prohibitions on false and misleading advertising.”

That is from Daily Caller.   Here is more from the Washington Examiner:... [Read More]

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The Politician

Netflix: The PoliticianNetflix have just (2019-09-27) launched a new series, The Politician, which, being their original content, should be available in all of their geographical regions as soon as the clock rolls over to that date in each time zone.  The series follows a protagonist, Payton Hobart, adopted into a wealthy family in Santa Barbara, California, who has decided, since age seven, that he will become President of the United States and directed his entire life toward that goal.  The first milestone is his election as president of his class at Saint Sebastian High School, and in the pilot episode, he pursues this, with the aid of his support team, already measuring the curtains for their offices in the west wing of the White House once they get him there, with a ruthlessness, amorality, and cynicism which recalls a U.S. president who promised a “bridge to the twenty-first century”.

Now, I’ve only seen the pilot episode, and often series turn south once approved for production and handed off to the people who have to grind out the subsequent episodes.  But, from the pilot, this is one of the most wickedly funny political comedies I’ve seen since the original British House of Cards and of high school since Square Pegs.... [Read More]

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Red China in 1962

In 1962, NBC News aired a one-hour “White Paper” hosted by Chet Huntley titled “Red China”, which attempted to provide a look into what had been a largely closed society since the 1949 revolution, and especially since the start of the  “Great Leap Forward” in 1958.  The first half of the documentary traced the history of China from the time of the communist takeover in 1949 to the present using stock footage.

... [Read More]

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Way back when….

To tell the truth, I never saw the early episodes of this somewhat famous TV series. I was perusing YouTube and I stumbled upon this; The Clampetts Strike Oil   TV was much simpler back then. Somewhat funny, but enjoyable never the less.

I invite you to take it in, this so called first episode of The Beverly Hillbillies. Enjoy the trip down memory lane to September 26 1962.

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Remembering SCTV

Born in 1975, I grew up during the 1980s, and to this day there are certain shows from that decade that never fail to bring a smile to my face as I reminisce. Among them is SCTV, which began as a Toronto-based sketch comedy program in 1976 and was later picked up by NBC in 1981.

SCTV’s ensemble cast included Joe Flaherty, who portrayed such characters as Count Floyd, Guy Caballero, William F. Buckley (!), and Sammy Maudlin. Old-time Ricochetti will recall the time when @pseudodionysius discovered that Mr. Flaherty was a member of the legacy site. What a moment that was.... [Read More]

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What the … Flix?

“Another Life” (Netflix series)On July 25, 2019, a new science fiction television series, Another Life, was released on the Netflix streaming video service.  As Netflix often does with their own productions, the entire series was released at once, as opposed to one episode per week as on broadcast television.  I get most of my news about events in science fiction from Twitter, where I follow a collection of independent science fiction authors and fans whose opinions I have come to respect.  There have been relatively few comments about the new series, but they have been curiously bimodal: some people like it and others hate it, with very few in the middle.  A couple of nights ago I had a pile of tedious system administration tasks to do which took a lot of time but relatively little concentration, so I put it on to have a look for myself.  I was astonished by what I saw…or rather heard.

The story is, from what I’ve seen, banal, and although they seem to have science advisors on tap which keep them from tripping over pesky things like confusing planetary systems with galaxies and the like, there are other inanities such as instantaneous communication over light-year distances and the need for suspended animation on a faster than light ship.  Almost every male (including a computer-emulated hologram) with the exception of one political twit seems to have a dumbeard™, and nobody on this ship sent for first contact with mysterious aliens seems to have a rank or title.... [Read More]

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Avenatti Avenatti Avenatti

I think liberals and pearl clutchers need to be reminded how much they trusted Michael Avenatti. They trusted a guy who was despicable because he was pushing their narrative. I think someone needs to go “Avenatti, Avenatti, Avenatti” a few times to them. They need to be reminded that they were/are a poor judge of character as they pontificated their indignation.

The linked video is of an interview with Alan Dershowitz. He was a mainstay on CNN for the longest time till he started to give the “wrong” legal opinion. I hope he never lets CNN forget their Avenatti Crush.... [Read More]

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Netflix Recommendation: “Shtisel”

“Shtisel” is a brilliant Israeli series that follows a family from a conservative Jewish community in Jerusalem. There are no fireworks–just the drama of ordinary lives–but it works well. It’s real, and even disturbing at times, without sinking into fatalism. The characters develop, so I’m glad I stuck it out after the first couple of episodes. It uses flashback and surreal dream scenes, and it took some getting used to. In detail after detail, for twelve episodes in each of the two seasons, individuals’ gifts, flaws, and motivations are revealed. Some scenes will give you an “aha” moment about the family, as you connect the incidents with narrative from previous episodes.
 
The main character, Akiva, is the youngest son of the Shtisel family, living with his father and seeking a match after his mother has died. He is kind of a dull fellow, who doesn’t seem to have a backbone or many interests besides drawing. His several siblings are already grown and married, some likable and interesting, others not. Akiva and his father teach at the local boys’ school, and the family adhere to Orthodox Jewish practices such as uttering a prayer before eating and kissing their fingers as they go through a doorway. Although Akiva’s mother has died, her presence and influence is still felt in the household. None of this sounds like a formula for a fascinating series, but the journey was so rewarding that I watched its two seasons and look forward to a third.
The show made me curious about a couple of points. First, I was surprised how basic the standard of living was for this community. The houses are just ugly inside, with little adornment and plain, cheap materials. The food doesn’t look appealing, either. Good jobs seem like a scarce commodity. Then I realized that it must have been the way of life for that community; when characters finally travel outside of that, you see a metropolis that looks a bit like San Diego. Second, I thought Hebrew was spoken in Israel, but it sounds a lot like German, definitely with German words. Someone suggested that it could be Yiddish, but then I saw a dialogue where a character offers to speak in Yiddish so the children wouldn’t overhear what he was about to say. Maybe they are switching among three languages. English words and phrases are inserted occasionally, but English doesn’t seem to influence their discourse much other than that.
 
With its rich detail, the series effectively immersed me in this community, showing–beyond the portrayals of clothing, customs, and daily rituals– the humanity of the residents and their challenge in living as Orthodox Jews in today’s world.

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“The Orville”: Interview with Seth MacFarlane and the Creative Team

The Orville (television series)The Orville”, while not in the “Star Trek” canon, has done much to restore the episodic tradition of the Original Series of Star Trek and its successor, The Next Generation.  What I mean by episodic is that for the most part each episode stands alone and is a self-contained story.  While there may be some two-parters, you don’t have the half-season or longer “story arcs” which have become common in the more indulgent era of cable and binge-watching on streaming services.

“The Orville” doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it is no sense a parody.  There are episodes which explore serious themes such as up-voting and down-voting on social networks.... [Read More]

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