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odds and ends: new fall tv season, roadwork

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

The new fall TV season is here and… yeah, whatever. I’ve fallen out of watching television in a big bad way in the last few years. My favorites are either criminally underwatched (Parks and Recreation) or getting a little long in the tooth (How I Met Your Mother, PLEASE let this be the last season). Most of the new offerings from the networks aren’t filling me with excitement, but I’ve sampled a couple.

Partners (CBS): A lousy show with gags that feel like they were pulled from a 1995 Joke Book. Still… despite its’ lousiness, I think the show will be a success. Quality has never been a requirement for a CBS sitcom and Partners is a very familiar riff on stuff that’s been done a thousand times before. I won’t watch it again, but I expect it will have a decent run.

The Mindy Project (FOX): As weird as it sounds, I was looking forward to Mindy Kaling’s solo series this year for a simple reason: Kaling, for her last three years on The Office, has insisted on writing that show’s holiday episodes. I find that fact very telling; the type of TV she enjoys creating would likely be the type of show I’d be interested in watching. I know it’s a silly reason to give The Mindy Project a shot… but there it is.

The pilot of The Mindy Project was WAAAAAY too busy for me. Just… stuff going on left, right and center. The main character is revealed in a flashback, she’s in jail, she goes on a date, she does surgery, she has office banter… it’s a ridiculous amount of stuff to cram into one episode. I think the show has some potential and the scenes where the actors are given a moment to breathe show promise. I’m going to keep watching.

Ben and Kate (FOX): What The Mindy Project got wrong, Ben and Kate got right. The show paces itself and feels lived-in. The titular relationship between a wayward older brother and a responsible younger sister has a quality about it that makes the viewer feel like there’s backstory here to be explored. The concept isn’t so overwrought that it takes 22 minutes to explain. I could see good things from this show and I’m interested in continuing to watch.

It’s sort of ironic however: though I genuinely think Ben and Kate is the best of these new sitcoms… I also think it stands the least chance of being a success. It doesn’t have a great timeslot to support it, it doesn’t have the “WOW” factor that The Mindy Project has. I hope I’m wrong and that it gets a chance to do some episodes; I’d watch them.

I haven’t sampled many dramas this season but I have the first two episodes of NBC’s Revolution saved on my laptop- maybe I can get to them this weekend.


Finally finished It this week and the book… man, I’ve changed a lot since I read that book as a 7th grader. What once seemed well thought-out and majestic now just feels awkward and strange. The best parts about the book on this revisit were Stephen King’s world building. As a kid, I never appreciated how fully realized the town of Derry was. King bends over backwards to give the place a history and a presence many fictional towns do not possess. I was impressed by that.

Also on the King front, I’ve been listening to Roadwork, one of his earlier novels written under the nom de plume Richard Bachman.

It’s a sour little novel about a guy whose world is turned upside down when the laws of eminent domain lead an interstate to being built through both his home and his place of work. As a character piece Roadwork is a decent thing – Bart Dawes’ slow descent into madness/victimization of circumstance is rolled out in a way where the reader remains sympathetic with him, all the way to the end. King/Bachaman does some artful things where the reasons for Dawes “insanity” aren’t always spelled out, but can be deduced through context.

It doesn’t change my feelings about the book, however. You spend half your time genuinely wishing Bart would just go to a fucking therapist and get over it… and the other half of the novel, you’re dealing with ridiculous things like King’s use of an underground mafia character named Sal Magliori. The Magliori sections of the book are just so tone deaf and silly it’s hard to get past them. I can’t recommend the book but I guess it’s an interesting stop-gap on King’s early years. It’s a little on the nose that at one point Dawes describes himself (I’m paraphrasing here) as a character in a bad writer’s book. At this point in King’s career… Dawes is exactly that.

odds and ends: scooby doo, it

Posted in odds and ends with tags , , , , , on September 14, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

A quick word of thanks to all of you who’ve been so kind in the past two weeks toward my wife Ellen and I. Ellen’s father Ken passed away last week; while his passing was not unexpected, it’s never easy to lose a parent. Ken lived a long, eventful life and although I met him in his “twilight” years, I’ll always remember him as being an affable man who resisted the tempting urge to beat me up when he found out I had gotten his youngest daughter pregnant.

I missed a BIG chunk of school because of the funeral arrangements – three days, plus one extra day of already scheduled professional development. It’s the second longest stretch of time I’ve ever been out of the classroom during the school year and certainly having it happen so close to the beginning of the first quarter will end up being something of a challenge as we go forward.


Well, it finally happened – my boys have discovered Scooby Doo.

I am AMAZED at the longevity Scooby Doo enjoys, especially in light of the fact that almost nobody my age remembers The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, the show from which all the characters on Scooby Doo, Where Are You? are lifted.

I myself was a huge fan of Shaggy, Velma, and company when I was a kid. I have vivid memories of my father egging me on into loud paroxysms of annoyance when he’d come home and tell me he thought Scooby Doo, in his words, “stinks.” How I would howl in protest… but time has once again proven my father to be correct. Scooby Doo does kind of stink.

Of course, it has charm! The character designs remain top shelf and some of the voice work is spot-on. I’m just shocked at how… similar every episode of Scooby Doo is from one another. I remember them being quite distinct from one another in my mind’s eye, but watching two or three episodes just reaffirms the sameness that pervades most of the episodes.

Also, has there ever been an episode of Scooby Doo in ANY of its’ dozens of incarnations where the writers actually play fair with the mystery element of the show? I know most children at home aren’t aspiring sleuths, but most of the solutions to the mysteries in the episodes we’ve watched make no good sense. I’d love to watch a Scooby Doo series where the writers paid more careful attention to the mystery parts of the series. Maybe that version of the show exists somewhere! Let me know if it does; I’d eagerly watch that with Elliot and Henry on a weekday afternoon.


After the Dune debacle of this past summer, I thought it might be time to retreat into some comfort reading for awhile. I chose It by Stephen King. I’m a fan of King’s work and I remember loving It when I read it in seventh grade.

King’s always copped to being more of a writer of “the moment” than he would like and for sure, a lot of his books provide a window into what was going on in America during whatever time his novel was written. Sometimes this serves his books well- ‘Salem’s Lot holds up remarkably well as years go on in its’ portrayal of a small town disintegrating in the face of forces it can barely comprehend. That idea works great in the 1970’s, ’80’s, ’90’s, and today.

It, however… It doesn’t seem to have aged well so far. The book seems to have “everything and the kitchen sink” thrown in and while that can be interesting to read, It never seems to focus very hard on anything in particular. That’s a flaw.

I’m interested as to what it’s going to be like to read the ending of It again as an adult. I don’t want to spoil what happens in the book, but suffice to say… King writes a REALLY strange ending for his youthful protagonists in 1957. He devises a means by which the group of seven pre-teens can keep their bond intact after facing the titular monster of the novel… and it’s downright strange. As a seventh grader, that weird ending sort of washed over me; today I’m curious to see what my reaction will be.