Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Return

It has been a while and I apologize for the absence without warning. Sometimes, even for this would-be blogger, life gets in the way. For instance there is Sharon’s book. It is probably a bit more than a year away from your Kindle and/or Barnes & Noble.  Some of that delay is Sharon being Sharon, and some of it is politics. (In the foreplay of 2020, Simon & Shuster is just not going to put out a book absent a strong pro--or anti--Trumpian theme.) Whoever said, “everything is political” (and I think it was me) could not have realized how very true that would become in this epoch of the Trumpster.

Sharon’s book… I am not allowed to disclose the title… is good. Surprisingly good. It is not quite finished, but I have already laughed and cried enough in the reading for any two books. Of course, I am biased, but so too will be most of the people who pick up this autobiography in… wait for it… (literally) 2021.

Another distraction has been what I would call pretty much the re-invention of the television version of the wheel. There is so much to watch and it is all so much better than any of us in the Cagney & Lacey era could have imagined. Today, a person who doesn’t watch television is the equivalent of a mid-20th century dude who did not read books. These shows on HBO, Netflix and Amazon Prime are startingly good… better than anything being made for the silver screen or, for that matter, being produced on or off Broadway. The recent Emmy nominations only bring that fact to the forefront with shows like Game of Thrones, Fleabag, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Fosse & Vernon, Barry, Veep, Gentleman Jack, and True Detective being among my favorites. And the “B” team of Ozark, Russian Doll, The Sinner, and Killing Eve are all more than neighborhood adjacent to their (slightly) betters.

It is hard to imagine a year with a David Milch Deadwood entry that I am not doing handstands. But that is how good everything else has become. Milch just missed his target, by being too much in a rush to bring this nostalgic re-entry of (arguably) the best series of all time, to a conclusion. He had enough material… and more than enough good will from his audience… to have given us four to six episodes to finish out the saga, but he blew it by reducing his epic series to the movie form. Benioff and his partner, DB Weiss, were pretty much guilty of the same thing with Game of Thrones, putting eight hours of story into a six-hour bag in this, the show’s last season. It all seemed so short-handed and rushed at the end, but it is still (you should excuse the expression) unsullied in the pantheon of great shows. Go to HBO-GO and watch Deadwood from its inception… and just forget to watch this year’s movie of the same name.

What? You have yet to see Barry? There are a half dozen reasons I could list for you to stream this brilliant comedy series, and right near the top is old pal Henry Winkler who is simply fabulous as Barry’s drama coach.

Bill Paterson, who starred with Sharon on the London stage in Misery, is a total hoot as the Dad in Fleabag… Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a genius in the title role of this self-same series of her creation. Did you know that in addition, she wrote every episode, and also created the series Killing Eve?

As long as I am handing out acting kudos: Arkin and Douglas are brilliant in The Kominsky Method, Michelle Williams is perfect as Gwen Verdon in Fosse & Verdon and Sam Rockwell is also great as Bob Fosse in the same show. You could do worse than betting Julia Louis-Dreyfus will win the Emmy for Veep, and when she does, she will have triumphed over the toughest competition of the entire evening. Newcomer Judi Comer gets my best Drama acting nod for her portrayal in Killing Eve, though it pains me not to vote for Cagney & Lacey alum, Sandra Oh in the same show.

So much to watch and so little time… and yet, still on my TO-DO list is revisiting my favorites of the past, FX for Justified (and maybe The Americans), to Epic for Get Shorty and to watch Jennifer Garner again, and again in Alias… the JJ Abrams series with arguably one of the best opening episodes EVER.

More distractions and excuses in my next blog, coming your way…. Shortly, I promise. No more than a day or two…honest.

Barney Rosenzweig

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