Tag Archives: television

Lofty ambitions

This is a loft in the Strip District of Pittsburgh:

Window side of loft

I’ve long wanted to live in a place like that. And as of today, I do.

In addition to my lovely house in Butler, I now have a loft apartment dahntahn. It will make it much easier to meet clients in Pittsburgh and south while staying connected with my clients in Butler and north. 

I signed the lease a few weeks ago, but today I got the keys. I’ve been humming the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” theme all day. No word on whether I can turn the world on with my smile, but I do know that love is all around.

“What is it like in your funny little brains. It must be so boring.”

If you’re reading this tonight, Sunday night October 24, you still have time to get to your TV and set your DVR for this show: Sherlock on PBS.

Masterpiece Mystery: Sherlock (trailer)

And if you are reading this Monday or later and missed it, you can catch one of the many repeats. Which you’ll want to do, so you’re set for the next two Sundays, when episodes 2 and 3 are broadcast. Or in the worst case, preorder the DVDs.

This new Sherlock series is amazing. It was produced by the BBC and broadcast over the summer in Britain. I watched it via (illegal) YouTube uploads, 15 minutes to a segment, the moment they were available. Clever, fast-paced, funny, suspenseful, high-stakes, beautifully shot and edited, with characters that you like instantly and care about.

My friend Christina, who clued me in before the BBC’s original broadcast so I’d be on the lookout for it on the Internets, described Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes as the “adorable bastard child of Doctor Who and Sheldon from Big Bang Theory.” This is just about right, assuming that child had been raised by Gregory House.

Please watch and tell me what you think of the show. Then let’s all band together to get the BBC and PBS to show future episodes in a much more timely manner. Three months’ delay is far too a wait for great television.

Those were the days

The big blogs all have theme days, and I need to get in step.

I have a plan to start Tuesday Shoe Review, in which I’ll blog footwear worthy of note. I have a great pair of shoes — boots, really — that I planned to write about tonight. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring home the cable to download photos from my camera, and i can hardly do a shoe review without a photo, can I?

So for today, we’ll instead have TV Tuesday, a new recurring theme in which I’ll write about TV shows that changed my life.

Actually, that’s all blather to introduce something that actually did affect my life. Today I saw this photo:

(via “If Charlie Parker Were a Gunslinger….“)

All in the Family was one of few sitcoms showing on TV when I was growing up, so I didn’t appreciate how unusual it was. And of course I couldn’t guess how influential it would be, how it would affect me and the way I thought, how it would change how sitcoms worked. For me then, it was just funny.

It still is funny. Here’s a stellar episode — the one where Maude (played by the amazing Beatrice Arthur) is introduced as a prime opponent to Archie.

Cousin Maude’s Visit: part 1 | part 2 | part 3

* Well, the Tuesday Shoe Review thing is real. I’ll start next week. !!

I feel animated, even a little mad

I’ve received many compliments on my new Twitter avatar.

Me, Mad-Menned
Me, sorta

These compliments are nice, and yet I feel like I’m cheating in accepting them because the avatar took no creativity on my part whatsoever. In fact, you can have a very similar avatar (or iPhone background or Facebook picture or desktop background) in a few minutes.

Use this: Mad Men Yourself.

This fine gadget is part of the promotion for the third season of AMC’s Mad Men — one of my favorite television programs. (UPDATE: For more about the pervasiveness of this promotion, see this from the New Yorker: “Poster girls.”)

I particularly like this gadget because it uses the artwork of Dyna Moe, a performer and artist in NYC who started drawing scenes from Mad Men season 2, just on a whim, and posting them to her Flickr account and her blog.

What’s nice about this story is that AMC didn’t send her a cease and desist letter. It seemed that the people on Mad Men, and in particular the show’s creator, Matt Weiner, really loved her artwork. They invited her to meet them and other important AMC folks, and to come along when Jon Hamm was guest hosting Saturday Night Live, and so on and so on.

It may have helped that she’s a performer in the Upright Citizen’s Brigade and knew some of the actors via that. But mostly I believe it’s because her art is clever and awesome, and because she wasn’t afraid to put things out for people to see and enjoy. Carpe diem and all that.

You can read all about this and more on Dyna Moe’s blog, I Let My Fists Do the Talking.

I made another Mad Men me, which I’ll start using next week when the new season premieres. Swanky, eh?

Here's me being Mad
Here's me being Mad

Faster than a rolling O. Stronger than silent E. Able to leap capital T in a single bound. It’s a word! It’s a plan! It’s Letterman!

I was talking with my friend Barry about the cartoons on TV today — Thomas the Tank Engine, Max and Ruby, and the dreaded Dora. Barry wondered where the morals of the stories were. What lessons were they teaching?

I said that we grew up on Bugs Bunny, and there were no morals there. Very little sanity as well.

We agreed that TV was much better when we were small, and this led to a bit of reminiscing about The Electric Company. I haven’t watched it in decades, but Barry has the box set — for his daughter, he says.

It’s surreal, he told me. Morgan Freeman, Bill Cosby, big stars today, all regulars then.

Sure enough, he is absolutely right. It is a weird and wild and wonderful program, with a lovely balance or knowledge and whimsy. No wonder I loved it so.

I thought I would post the opening credits here, but then I found this clip of the recurring “Letterman” cartoon. Gene Wilder is the voice of Letterman, Joan Rivers is the nearly hysterical narrator, and the whole thing is wild.


Also, this wonderful animation, “Cloud, Proud, Loud.”

And here’s “For You.”

Makes me think of Bill Plympton’s animations.

My new plan is to give boxed sets of The Electric Company as gifts to all children from now on. I’ll mix in a few Rocky & Bullwinkle sets too, and The Jungle Book. This will be my investment in the future of the world. Who’s with me?

Love, love is a verb / Love is a doing word

I enjoy the TV show House, largely because I like watching Hugh Laurie.

One of the small but pure joys of watching the show is watching the opening credits — or rather, listening to them. The music used in the credits comes from the song “Teardrop” by Massive Attack.

The House credits use only instrumental portions of the song. But for me, the vocal is the really stunning part. See the eerie video above to appreciate the full combination. Lyrics to “Teardrop” are here.

Feel the burn

I spoke too soon when I said that AMC was the only cable network I needed. I forgot the USA Network.

Burn Notice, my favorite television guilty pleasure, returns Thursday for its second season.

Burn Notice combines the spy techniques and intra-agency backstabbing of the Jason Bourne movies with MacGuyver do-it-yourself surveillance tips, then it adds some Ferris Bueller-type tongue-in-cheek voiceovers, and finally it throws the whole thing on the beaches of Miami. There’s more than enough eye candy for viewers of any gender, and just the right amount of intrigue to keep things interesting.

And the co-stars include Bruce “The Chin” Campbell (of the Evil Dead series) and Sharon Gless (Cagney of the detective series Cagney & Lacey). An abundance of riches.

For a taste of the sensibility of the show, watch this longer, more explanatory promo. Or check out the “Ask a Spy” feature on the show’s website. The show’s lead, Michael Westen (played by the strangely compelling Jeffrey Donovan) answers questions you didn’t know you had. Like, how can I break out of a prison in Turkmenistan? and how can I avoid embarrassing myself when playing sports at a company retreat? Great stuff.

And did you notice the soundtrack of that promo I pasted in above? Yes, that’s Billy Squier singing. Oh yeah.

Be seeing you

I’ve just learned that AMC is remaking The Prisoner, the rather spooky and incomprehensible but wildly engrossing Cold War series that the BBC made in the late 60s.

The original version of The Prisoner starts out like a James Bond story, but then gets very weird. The hero, played by Patrick McGoohan with a constant smirk and raised eyebrow, is a man known only as Number Six. The titles show us that he has resigned from some spy agency, then was kidnapped. He awakens in an isolated seashore community called the Village, from which he can’t escape. Why is he there? Who are these other people in the Village? Why can’t he leave? Who is Number One? It’s all mysterious, and it’s also surreal — the colors, the images, the giant white bubble that captures and returns anyone who tries to escape.

“Be seeing you” is the main catchphrase from the show. It’s how the characters say “goodbye”; there’s no escape, so of course they’ll be seeing you, but also the community is full of spies and security cameras, so at any time someone is seeing you.

The uneasy sensibility of The Prisoner fit the Cold War period perfectly. It also suits our current day, with the erosion of personal liberties by government as well as the loss of privacy via our lives on the Web and the constant sharing of personal data. (Giant Eagle Advantage Card, anyone?)

AMC is already my new favorite cable network, what with the classic movies and novel programming like Mad Men. Soon I won’t need any other channels. Be seeing you, indeed.