once upon atime,there were two Mayan slaves who got lucky. one day while pushing giant blocks of stone used to build the Andean pyramids, they were pulled off the line by their supervisor. he informed them that instead of toiling under the hot sun and the lash of the whip, they had been assigned to a new task. when they reported for duty, they were told that their new job was to chisel marks on a giant round wheel of stone, each mark representing a day in the year. this was the Mayan calender. they were left to their task in a cool dry cave which they made into their home. when they got hungry, they would sneak over to the slave quarter’s kitchen and eat. this went on for months. no one ever checked on them, so they kept on chiseling! it sure beat all that heavy lifting. finally, their old supervisor made an appearance at the mouth of the cave,and boy, was he pissed! he roared,”what the hell are you two doing?” they replied that they were doing what he had told them to do,chisel dates onto the calender. the boss fumed,”that was a one day assignment, you make the marks for the new year, and then you report back!” the slaves chimed in unison “you never told us that, so we just kept on going!”the boss fumed”get back to the pyramids,NOW!” one of the slaves sheepishly asked, “well,can’t we at least finish the year we’re on? we’re almost done.”their supervisor walked over, looked down, and started screaming,”2012.2012? that’s hundreds of years from now;who cares about that? he pulled out his whip and chased them out of the cave.
AND THAT’S THE REASON THE MAYAN CALENDAR ENDS ON DEC.21,2012
“well, you see, there’s this show called “Dexter”,see, and it’s about a serial killer,ok? but he’s a really cool serial killer, and um, he only kills other serial killers,right? ’cause that’s what his dad taught him to do,understand? you see, his dad really loved him and protected him. his dad was a police detective, who was against all the evil in the world, so he adopted Dexter,but he didn’t know his new son was a serial killer,well,at least not right away.anyway dexter is a grown man now, his father’s dead , but like a good son,dexter has followed the family tradition of being in law enforcement, he’s a blood-spatter expert, which he’s good at ’cause he’s done a lot of blood-splattering,don’cha know.but he’s a really nice guy! he has a sweet single-mom girlfriend, which works out great because Dexter’s really good with kids.” have you ever tried, or heard someone try to explain HBO’s “Dexter” to someone who has never seen it?they want to tell them about the show because they love it, and they love the character,too. so they want you to watch it. there was such terrific word of mouth about it that CBS put it on as a summer fill-in series. but there a few(!) problems with it on mainstream TV.for starter’s it ‘s a show where the hero is a sociopath who enjoys killing and has no plans to ever stop. he binds his victims first and cuts them in a ritual where he takes a slide-sample of their blood,while he lectures them on what bad people they are.then with all eyes(the victim’s , the camera’s and our’s) open, he kills them.no last-minute change of heart(he doesn’t have a heart),no sympathy.Dexter has no emotions.at all. good or bad. he’s intelligent and has learned how to act like he has them when he has to.then there’s the matter of his adoptive sister, Deb. Deb’s language would literally make a sailor blush. she drops more f-bombs than tony montana on a bad day. i admit i never watched it on CBS, but she must have had to loop every single scene she was in. lip-reader’s had a field day. I’m sure something was lost in translation, like the character’s entire personality. it’s time to mention 2 very strong performances in pivotal character roles: keith carradine in season 2 and jimmy smits in season 3, playing an FBI task force profiler and a district attorney,respectively. i could go on and on about these two performances, they both should have won emmys, i’m sure they didn’t, i’m not even gonna look it up ’cause i got pissed when i found out that carradine didn’t even get nominated for his turn as Wild Bill Hickock in “Deadwood”. that should have been a slam dunk in the supporting category. just watch “Dexter”, alright? or i will kill you.
has there ever been a show so “completely different”(with apologies to Monty Python) as “Deadwood”? it’s a western for people who don’t (or do) like westerns.with tragedies of Greek proportion and soliloquies so Shakesperean,yet so swearword -laden they take the form of the theater of the absurd.yet one’s overall impression is that this is probably really close to the reality of the times.and oh,what times they were. there is no justice, not even frontier justice in the gold-filled Black Hills of the Dakotas,ripped off from the Native Americans whose treaties were torn up and thrown away as if never written. Deadwood is run by Al Sweringen(“cocksucker!”) Like Wu, the ironhanded Chinese Godfather of the “other” side of the camp,it is hard to seperate Al from his favorite cussword. although “cussword” is barely applicable when EVERY character’s speech is so full of f-bombs and scatalogical smutterings thats it seems no more jarring than the eloquence with which they are combined with the Kings English to create very clear communication channels with each other and the audience. most of the main characters wear their hearts on their sleeves and guns and knives under them. the realistic look of Deadwood is the most authentic i can recall since Altman’s “McCabe And Mrs. Miller”,which,at the risk of offending David Milch(yeah,like he’s gonna read this!) the show must have borrowed just a taste of that masterpiece’s ambience. other than the introduction of surely one television’s most endearing character’s in Al,”DeadWood” is filled to the brim with memorable roles:Doc,Trixie,Joanie,Cy Tolliver. and of course,Seth Bullock, seemingly the only “moral ” protagonist.(but such a terrible temper!) which is not even to mention Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane.Now we know that the latter two are actual people whose exploits became part of the Legend of the Wild West(mostly fabricated by reporters and dime novelists of the time).What is astounding is that most of the other characters are based on real people too.No one taught ME about them in school,anyway. when the pure evil-doings of Woolcot,for example,rise almost to the level of the prepostorous, it was shocking to me that this person is based on one L.D.Kellogg,described by Wikipedia as “a pschycopathic geologist and serial killer who worked for George Hearst”! gee,i wonder if he put it like that in his resume’ when applying for the position! No wonder the character’s name was changed,probably vetted as subject to lawsuits by the Corn Flake billionaire’s heirs. there is definitely no statute of limitations on the stuff THIS guy pulled, even if he IS dead. a final word of gratitude to Keith Carradine,whose portrayal of Wild Bill in season 1 should have won an emmy or something ! he brought such a sense of gravitas to the show, just like he did in season 2 of “Dexter”. which brings me to my next television blog… stay tuned.
while i’m waiting for “Dexter”, “Trueblood”, and “Brotherhood ” to resume new season’s, i am rewatching ” The Wire “, starting back at season 1. it’s good to be back with McNultty and the gang(no pun intended). the series holds up well under a repeat viewing. a few things stand out for me,mainly the brutal quickness of the violence,and the basic humanity of DeAngelo Barksdale.the first time through,i thought “D” was just another ambitious criminal on the rise, with a family pedigree that virtually guaranteed him a spot at the top ( if he didn’t get killed ).Actually though, when we first meet him, he has literally been taken ” off of the towers “, and assigned ” down to the pit ‘. this is no Michael Corleone, sent off to college with intentions of getting him away from the ” family business “. no,he made a mistake ( getting caught ), and is being made to work his way back up by his uncle Avon. “Dee” knows already that there’s no way “out the game ” for him.in the scene where he tells Wallace to go back to school, we see his hope to at least vicariously know a lifestyle he will never have for himself. when he see’s his underlings playing checkers with chess pieces, we find out that not only is his knowledge of the game at an advanced level,young Barksdale is easily able to explain the essence of the game to them using their drug business as an analogy so well they grasp it immediately. and we get it too: the drug trade,the homicide police,the lawyers and the politicians are all “in the game ” to some degree or another. to paraphrase the creator,David Simon, this is not a show about good vs. evil, it’s a show about how everyone is trapped in the bureaucracy and inadequacy of modern city life.disguised as a crime show. a really good crime show. oh, yeah and Omar. did you think i forgot about Omar Little? our president’s favorite character on his favorite show? more on Omar in a couple weeks when i write about season 2. go beg, buy, borrow, steal or rent “the wire : season 1!