Stephie From The Block (Television/Stage Thoughts: Stephanie J Block Live From Lincoln Center)

 

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I love theater. I love theater music, I love theater performers – the belters, the Ethel Mermans. So it’s no surprise that I loved ‘Stephanie J Block Live at Lincoln Center.’ This episode, taped last Dec 22, showcases one of the best voices on Broadway these days (she will be playing Cher in ‘The Cher Show’ opening soon on the boards) and this shows off her wonderful belting voice. I once saw her on a touring production of ‘Anything Goes,’ on the same production where Sutton Foster won a Tony, and the great thing about Block in that production was that I forgot about Foster’s performance, because Block made the role her own. Here, in this concert, she sings ‘Defying Gravity, and gosh darn you will ask ‘Idina who’ after hearing her version. I am not saying her version is better than Idina’s but you will definitely her version is different – and works just as well. And the thing I really appreciate in this show is how I saw a different side of Block – she has a sparkling sassy personality that you will want to just embrace. No wonder she is such a beloved figure in the theater community. For me, my two favorite numbers of hers here are the most personal ones for her  – when she sings about her husband in a medlette of ‘My Man/The Music That Makes me Dance,’ and when her husband, Sebastian Arcelus, duets with her with the gender-bending version of ‘Move On.’  This show made me miss New York.

Easy Letting Go (Television Thoughts: Roseanne Reboot Episodes 3, 4)

5c90818e6b4e9af2177d67bc8cc2de41After watching the first two episodes of Roseanne reboot, I conceded that it was indeed funny despite the fact that my gut is telling me not to support the show because Roseanne has turned into a deplorable, homophobic trump supporter. But something happened om the third and fourth episodes: it sopped becoming funny. The third episode barely made me laugh, and I found the Roseanne Conner character quite unlikable. Even worse, the plot became trite. When Roseanne tries to ‘discipline’ Darlene’s daughter and starts dumping her granddaughter’s head in the sink, I thought the whole thing was quite mean-spirited, and I felt icky spending time with these people.

The fourth episode was a little better, but by not much. I felt the rush to poignancy forced, and Roseanne Barr, never the best actress, seemed to just be mouthing off lines with no care or disregard for them. At the end of the episode, I felt a little better, as I thought, I could easily break away from this people and not have a sense of loss. I am not saying I will stop watching, but it will be easier to let go of them if this continues.

Dear Deplorable (Television Thoughts: Roseanne, ABC)

MV5BZjZlMjA1NTgtOTRjZS00NzYwLWFjOGMtMjAyZWQyZWY5YzJmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjc0MjkzNjc@._V1_UY1200_CR90,0,630,1200_AL_‘Roseanne’ was one of my favorite shows from the 90s, but I soured on Roseanne Barr, the person, because she turned crazy on me. I mean, she turned from one of the most progressive people to a right wing nut job. She featured gay characters on her show then, and now she does not support same-sex marriage? I vowed not to watch the reboot of her show, but I just have been reading so many great reviews that I couldn’t help myself. I broke my vow and sat down and watched the first two episodes.

And I loved it. Sure, Roseann Conner is now a deplorable. (Laurie Metcalf’s character enters and says ‘What’s Up Deplorable’) but I guess if I can live in a world where there are Trump supporters, I can live with watching this show which has not skipped a beat, and is just as witty, hilarious and heartwarming as it was before.

And besides, it has Laurie Metcalf, one of the best actresses in the world (and it still makes me a bit mad that she lost the Academy Award this year) to soften the right wing blow of Roseanne. I like the fact that Jackie gets equal time and spars with her. And the rest of the cast is as stellar – there’s still that warm chemistry between Roseanne and Dan (John Goodman) And I was kind of mad at Sara Gilbert for tolerating Rosean’ne’s craziness but she gets center stage here as Darlene, who goes back to live with her family while raising two kids of her own.

I admit, I would have been losing out had I boycotted this. I can admit when I am wrong.

Split Up With Splitting Up (Television Thoughts: Splitting Up Together)

p14160248_b_v8_abAfter watching the pilot episode of ‘Splitting Up Together,” I was going to say that family sitcoms are probably not for me, but then I realize that what I don’t like are bland family sitcoms. I started watching ‘Splitting Up Together,’ and about ten minutes into it, I already felt claustrophobic about being trapped with these people. The characters in this show are just a bunch of stereotypes – the father, played by Oliver Hudson is a man child, the wife, Jenna Fischer, is a neurotic mom, and the kids are cockie cutter in their trying to be interesting.  I know Ellen is an Executive Producer of this show, and I don’t realize why she put her name into something this blah. Total waste of my twenty two minutes.

By The Holy Book (Television Thoughts: Living Biblically, CBS)

livbibI was bored and checked out ‘Living Biblically,’ the new CBS sitcom. I wanted to watch something easy, and I thought watching something funny would ease a long work day. Well, this show just put me in a worse mood. I should have known, by the title that it would not be something for me. Jay R Ferguson is Chip,a guy who is in some kind of mid-age crisis. His friend died, and his wife is pregnant. So naturally what does he do? He decides to live his life by the book, and this means the bible. How does he do this, I wonder? I guess that is the point of the series. I think it’s kind of lame, and it took me all the strength to just finish the pilot episode. Like the bible, it is just not the kind of entertainment for me.

Matt’s Anatomy (Television Thoughts: The Resident)

p14154590_b_v8_aaWhen ‘The Good Wife’ ended its run, one of the things I was sad about was that I was going to miss seeing Matt Czuchry. I think he is a great charismatic actor (and very cute) So it was nice to see him land ‘The Resident,’ as I had a hunch he would land somewhere nice. He stars her as Dr Conrad Hawkins, an irreverent doctor who knows ‘the system’ quite too well, and puts his patients first in the ‘real’ sense. This is a little dark side to these medical procedural shows, and I like it because I know this system just a little too well too, having worked in the medical field for seven years.  In here, he has a corrupt Department Head (Bruce Greenwood) and is training a new resident (Manish Dayal) who still has an idealistic view of medicine.

The situations may sound familiar, and of course, this has some elements a la Grey’s Anatomy (Conrad works with his ex, played by Emily van Camp, just for sexual tension purposes only) but I do like it. It has a little something to say that is very important, and Czuzhry is great here (and is still cute) The familiarity has a homey appeal to me, and I am in.

In Search Of The Man (Television Thoughts: Manhunt, American Crime Story, The Assassination of Gianni Versace Episode 2)

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I don’t really know if I will be writing about every episode of American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace but here I am, compelled to write about episode 2. A friend of mine who I discuss the show with has said that he finds the show a little slow. I don’t know if I agree with that, but I do think that the jump in timelines make watching the show a little difficult to watch at times. But I have to say, though, I am now on the Darren Criss side – he is easing into the character more, and he is doing a great job. There is one scene where Andrew gets caught by a little girl at a parking lot changing his car plates and when he catches her looking at him, he gives her a big smile and seconds later throws the license plate at his truck. It showed the charming psychopath that Cunanan was.

The series also shows that at the time, Versace had already been diagnosed with HIV, which was the rumour going around at that time, and allegedly the family had been trying to conceal it. Penelope Cruz as Donatella is great, although her Catalan accent is kind of bothersome. But still, her presence gives Donatella the proper justice. Ricky Martin continues to surprise me, showing Antonio with a lot of depth. And Max Greenfeld as Ronnie was fantastic, playing a junkie that Cunanan met at the rundown hotel he was staying at.

The show still fascinates me, and I am still baffled by how incompetent the FBI was in handling the case. Cunanan, at that time, had already murdered four people, and was already in America’s Most Wanted list (he was even recognized by a sandwich shop employee) yet was free to roam all over Miami. If only they were able to distribute the flyers all over the gay clubs, one wonders if the crime could have been averted.