Today I’d like to talk about a great show, and another show that – regardless of whether it’s good or bad – probably ought to be given a chance. By viewers.
Even though summer isn’t necessarily filled with TV’s proudest moments (unless you’re managing Gene Simmons’ career), if you look hard enough there is some quality TV. Nor is the quality necessarily connected to TNT’s decision to purchase even more episodes of Franklin & Bash – which is vaguely ludicrous. But there’s quality TV that’s endured cancellations and then mysterious rebirths on strange (albeit cool) stations. I’m talking of course about Damages, which is indeed back and quite spectacularly so on DirecTV. It’s one of my all time favorite shows ever and in the same way that there are those who cannot get enough of Breaking Bad or The Good Wife or House, I’m an unrepentant Damages fan. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, it stars Glenn Close as an uber-ruthless lawyer and Rose Byrne (the ice queen from Bridesmaids) as Close’s one-time protégé and sometime rival. Each season they take a real story from the headlines and explore it from a legal angle – like the Bernie Madoff scandal. Currently we have John Goodman (at his very, very best – no question about a guest-star Emmy nod next year) playing a maybe corrupt former Marine-type who now runs a “private security” firm in Afghanistan (think Blackwater). If ever there was first-rate drama, this is it. Close (who’s won an Emmy for the role) is beyond miraculous and Rose Byrne nips gamely and deliciously at her heels. This latest season – while more violent than I’d like — is nevertheless a real blockbuster. If you get a chance, try out Damages or watch one of the first three seasons on DVD. It’s what keenly intelligent thrillers are all about, and you may find yourself hooked – it’s that good. That smart and that well-acted.
Then there’s another show – one of NBC’s most heavily hyped – that’s already in a ton of hot water and it hasn’t even aired yet. Hunhh?
A few weeks back we talked about The Playboy Club. Now a local station in Utah refused to air it this fall on account of its “racy nature”. As you may recall the show stars Eddie Cibrian as a very suave Don Draper-type who’s kind of a “fixer” at Chicago’s Playboy Club in 1963. In the show he’s charged with keeping everything running smoothly when one of the Playboy Bunnies gets herself into a pickle and someone dies. Now – on top of the Utah NBC station — we have an even bigger entity going after the show. The Parents Television Council has lodged a major complaint, arguing that The Playboy Club should be boycotted because it “glamorizes porn” by putting a “veneer of sophistication on an industry that exploits women and destroys families…it is disgraceful.” What do you think? Does this bug you or do you think these folks have a point? Will you boycott it? Here’s what I think. Obviously exploiting women is bad, in any way, shape, or form. No question about that. But if these associations and groups are going to band together on behalf of their children’s purity and impressionability, shouldn’t they be going after other shows first? Haven’t they got bigger, racier, far more inappropriate & gory fish to fry than a network period piece that may not even last two episodes? How about all the other shows which feature porn stars – only these are the dismembered, dead porn stars who hunky cops discover in those insanely popular crime dramas — those are okay, right Parents TV Council? But we’re not allowed to watch the ones who lived forty-seven years ago? And what about The Bachelor and The Bachelorette – doesn’t that glamorize something unseemly? Don’t even get me started on MTV – but that’s okay with all the parents’ groups?
I make this point all the time, and I feel strongly that a lot of TV is just bad for kids to watch because it gives them ideas and glamorizes just about everything. But to go after what is essentially an historical drama when we have heinous crimes depicted and horrific monsters and psychopaths wandering around on prime time feels kind of ridiculous. There’s an unfortunate double standard at play which may never change. But it seems to me that when these groups start targeting TV shows maybe they should target something that’s a) current and or b) worth the attack. Now let’s talk about Damages.
1) 101 Dalmations
2) Dangerous Liaisons
3) Fatal Attraction
4) Jagged Edge