NYPD ’72

I’ve been a Milch fan before I knew who Milch was. Back in middle school, when rumors spread that NYPD Blue would show a little booty on network television, I’d tune in and get roped in by the plot lines. A decade later, Deadwood came around, reinvented the language of the Western, constructed a microcosm of the brutal evolution of American society, and knocked my ass flat OUT. That said, when the memo arrived (nine months late) that Milch was working on another cop drama, it made me pause. Not ’cause I doubt Milch has another masterpiece in him, but because it’s hard to see what Milch could offer the police teledrama genre now, in a world after The Wire.

Wishing he had Jessie's girl, circa '94
High Tide: Wishing he had Jessie's girl, circa '94
For all the haterade that was thrown at Milch after “abandoning” Deadwood for John from Cincinnati, I was at least slightly interested to see how he could revive the blonde-surfer-beach drama, which had been completely gutted with the mid-90s straight-to-syndication likes of High Tide, Baywatch, and all its abysmal spin-offs. Well, as we all know, he didn’t. Maybe he wanted to inject American television with a dose of magical realism? Maybe he needed some sun, after three years shooting in Nebraska? All I know is, in hindsight, that whole idea seemed like it was concocted during a bout of LSD-reflux. John Monad from Cincinnatti – the levitating, reincarnation of that older J.C.? C’mon, man.

But let’s do like J.C. and forgive, if we can’t altogether forget.

What could Last of the Ninth possibly offer that David Simon hasn’t already? Here’s a summary according to The Hollywood Reporter: a period piece, set in NYPD 1972, “about an older detective’s mentoring of a young detective returned from Vietnam in a department fiscally crippled, under attack by revolutionaries, and which has been brought by allegations of systematic corruption into public disrepute.” Wait, that actually sounds good. A cop drama before the War on Drugs dominated cop dramas. As long as this dude doesn’t turn up…

Never again.
Never again.

– Thumbu Sammy

Proposition Joe the Plumber

Since the election cycle started, I don’t think I’m the only one who slowly tuned out the heavy satire of Colbert, and switched back over to The Daily Show for my dose of fake news. Things have gotten pretty easy for the editors of TDS, who’ve just been splicing together the best of the McCain campaign’s schizophrenia for the better part of two months. There was a time though, somewhere in the middle of Bush’s second term, when Colbert was outwitting Stewart regularly. The climax had to be Colbert deadpanning to a DC audience, a baffled Bush just ten feet away (“This administration isn’t sinking! It’s soaring. The President isn’t rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, he’s reshuffling deck chairs on the Hindenburg!”) The lefties, the liberals, and the other 70% of disgruntled Amrikans were so beside themselves, that Democracy Now, rather than doling out the news, just replayed that speech over and over for a day. It was the one small thing we had. Ever since the Kerry KO, the Republicans had been spending their political capital to roll back the welfare state, keep the war alive, and clown the opposition as a bunch of whinging pantywaists. Jon Stewart’s face was frozen into a permanent WTF. But Colbert was swimming into the belly of the whale, sharp as a squid beak. He was the master of the immanent critique, outbushing Bush, out-riling O’reilly, and for the coagulating funk of American disillusionment, he provided a small poot of relief.

Since the primaries ended, though, things have been different. The Hope Caravan is outpacing the Straight Talk Express. Stewart and gang are the ones hobnobbing with the heads of state – Clinton, Obama*, even Blair, in probably the most cringeworthy Daily Show appearance ever. Meanwhile, Colbert’s muse is hiding somewhere, cutting brush. Cheney is elusive as ever. Condi Rice is interviewing for the Niners. In fact, tonight, after watching a pretty stilted interview with Obama on TDS, I only stuck around for the Report when hearing that The Wire‘s David Simon was gonna be on air.

Homeboy still has it. TV’s greatest tragedian seemed positively awed by Colbert’s off-the-cuff abuse. And the night ended, with not only the best use of The Wire to illustrate a political analogy since this, but the best dig on Limbaugh’s dumbass “Obama Hood” metaphor. “So, Omar Little is sort of like Robin Hood, taking from the rich giving to the poor. Stealing from ‘Joe the Drug Dealer.’ Shouldn’t Joe the Drug Dealer get to spread his wealth however he chooses?” That dude is so quick, I’m not sure who he’s satirizing anymore.

Isn't that the basic tenet of socialism, though, O?
Isn't that the basic tenet of socialism, though, O?

– Thumbu Sammy

For those without DirectTV

This charming man via everythingicafe.com
This charming man via everythingicafe.com

(Or for those who don’t rely entirely on bittorrent for their TV habits…) January 2009 is going to get hot.  The new season of Friday night lights — which is airing now on DirectTV, set to air on NBC in January — is back on track. Last season’s unfortunate detour has been disavowed like a bad Nyquil overdose: Landry is rightfully among the supporting cast again; Saracen’s Guatemalan nanny has returned to her people; Riggins isn’t distracted by the MILF next door; and Lyla has left Jesus in the dust.  With the O.C.isms foregone (last night’s Ben Gibbard lead-out aside), the show’s central conflicts are being worked anew. A community’s systemic poverty and its totally fu-cocked set of priorities aren’t really things you can resolve in a single season, y’know?

I never would have thought a show about high school football could be so nuanced, but there you have it: my pick for best show on network TV.  It’s so good it makes me forget, momentarily, that Explosions In The Sky are such monumental douchebags.

Now, when are we gonna see sweet li’l Aimee Teegarden in an issue of Maxim?  Hot damn.

– J.C. Freñán

Oh, how the mighty have fallen

Fulfill all your wishes / with my taco flavored kisses
Fulfill all your wishes / with my taco flavored kisses

You might think, given the title of the post and the Heroes tag, that I actually give a shit about the show’s villainous turn this season.  I don’t.  (Does anyone even pay attention to this show any more?  Are we supposed to be invested in the virtue of a Peter “Strokemouth” Petrelli, or a Mohinder “The Bod” Suresh?  I can’t even get it up for Claire any more — though, to be fair, Maya has proven to be an adequately fiery replacement.)

No, superfriends. I’m referring to three proud black brothas who have allowed themselves to be emasculated by network television. I’m referring to Lieutenant-Major-Colonel Cedric Daniels, to Marlo motherfucking Stanfield, and to Reginald “Bubbles” Cousins.

Daniels, I could have forgiven you for getting up on the Lost train: after a few close calls last season (“The constant?!”) Abrams has narrowly avoided fucking the show up beyond repair.  And Abaddon does admittedly have some potential for badassery.  But FringePacey fucking Witter?

Marlo, you used to terrorize the streets of West Baltimore, untouchable.  Now look at you: your facial scar is suddenly no scarier than Tina Fey’s -and- you have the same haircut as Walt before he hit puberty.

And Bubs, you were the coolest, most articulate junkie philosopher ever, narrowly beating out Kurt Cobain FTW.  At least you had the good grace to submit yourself to just a single episode (though I wouldn’t be surprised if, strapped for ideas, the writers of Heroes contrived to send Hiro McFly back in time to save you).

Christ, even Batimore PD’s perennial fuck-up Herc has landed a respectable gig on Entourage, replete with Asian baby-mama.  Ziggy Sobotka managed to do OK, too — I’d even go so far as to say that he was *likeable* in Generation Kill, that last little temper tantrum aside.  And Ziggy’s pops, ol’ Frank Sobotka, is doing alright for himself, too, supplying a little comedic relief alongside everyone’s favorite E.B. Farnum in the tepid but entertaining True blood, which is redeemed every single week by Rutina Wesley’s sexy, sexy arms.  (Does Alan Ball think he’s the new Joss Whedon or something?)

Let’s all cross our fingers and hope that David Milch throws Stringer Bell or Avon Barksdale a bone with Last of the Ninth.  I can’t really see either of them popping up in a new season of Big love.

– J.C. Freñán