We lost one of America’s great filmmakers last week – director Sidney Lumet passed away at age 86 from lymphoma, and he’ll be the topic of today’s poll. If his name isn’t ringing a bell, all you have to know is that he was decidedly unflashy and he was known as a true actor’s director – many of his stars have the Oscars to substantiate that. His films included Dog Day Afternoon, Network, Equus, Serpico, The Wiz & The Verdict among others, and he leaves behind quite a cinema legacy.
But before we get to the poll, let’s talk about TV, because I’m less than impressed with some of the new network comedies (with the exception of the terrific Mr. Sunshine) and thus, let’s revisit one I feel is eminently watchable.
Did you catch Glee last night? Were you pleased that after what looks like an eighteen-week hiatus (what took them so long to give us another episode??) we got more Gwyneth and the addition of hunky Broadway star Cheyenne Jackson? I continue to feel that the show is still one of the best things on (and about) TV. Glee is obviously a huge phenomenon, and even though it touches on some pretty controversial subjects, I doubt anyone would deny its impact. (Nor should we forget the awards). Clearly there are those who find its subject matter inappropriate, or who think young audiences maybe shouldn’t be grappling with some of the stuff the McKinley High kids encounter on a weekly basis – to which I say, fair enough – but I’m still glad it’s there. Having been a supremely awkward kid who possessed zero demonstrable skills and even less self-confidence, I am awestruck by both the attention the show brings other awkward kids, and the amount of energy each one of those young actors must expend to do such an astonishing job. I wonder too if Prom Queens and Prom Kings, former Captains of Football Teams and Head Cheerleaders watch the show in the same way – if at all — or if those people who LOVED and THRIVED IN high school are less interested. (Also, it’s nearly impossible to get a straight man to watch a musical number, no matter how complex and glorious it may be. I’ve given up trying on that front.) So my question is this: do people who had a less-than-ideal high school experience appreciate Glee more? (Don’t get me wrong – I loved the original 90210 as much as anyone). Still I’m curious about whether that affects viewing – or does the comedy ultimately win everyone over?
What I am noticing is a drop-off among my friends who have always liked the show but feel that it’s gotten way too overbearing and message-driven. However, I think last night’s episode was anything but – in fact, there was almost nothing heavy-handed about it. Do you remember when you were little and you showed up at the dinner table after being alone for a long time and you had so much to say that when you opened your mouth to get it out you only spoke in a kind of gibberish – so eager were you to dispense with the info? Happened to me all the time. You can’t get the words out fast enough and you wind up saying something completely unintelligible. It seems like that’s what happened to Glee last night. So many things needed to get established, and so many relationships needed to be examined and then quickly “dealt with” that they kinda ran out of time. The whole premise of the episode was one of “Neglect”, although in their haste the show’s creators sort of neglected a few plot points and further explanation. Still, it was incredibly satisfying – Gwyneth continues to shine, and clearly we’ll be seeing more of Cheyenne Jackson and Will’s former wife. Plus there’s so much attention to the humor and the larger-than-life quality of the singing and dancing that we tend to forget the skill with which actors like Matthew Morrison operate. We kind of neglect him because he’s not polarizing in any way. That said, I do know lots of people who aren’t as excited about the show as they were right out of the gate. What do you think? Has it gone downhill? Are you still a fan?
2) Dog Day Afternoon
3) 12 Angry Men
4) The Verdict