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.

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


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.

Deep In Vogue (Television Thoughts: The Man Who Would Be In Vogue, Pilot Episode, The Assassination of Gianni Versace, F/X


I had been looking forward to seeing ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace’ because o a couple of things. Firstly, I remember when this incident happened, and followed the case close enough when it was on the headlines. Of course, the old me don’t remember really that much about the case, so I thought it would be well to see it unfold in a different way. Second, Versace’s killer, Andrew Cunanan, is half-Filipino so culturally it is resonating with me – although really being a psychopath doesn’t really get dictated by nationality. And lastly, this looks to be one of the gayest shows this season – directed by Ryan Murphy, and starring Ricky Martin and Darrin Criss. Well, Criss isn’t technically gay, but I have only seen him play gay, so he might as well be.

And the pilot. ‘The Man Who Would Be Vogue’ was pretty engaging. I know some have complained that it was a little slow, but I thought it moved quickly enough, and really, is there that much to say to warrant nine episodes? It begins at the day of the shooting, and moves back and forth in time. There were details I didn’t really know – that bird which got killed by a stray bullet was something I didn’t know. Plus, I thought the performances were universally good. Edgar Ramirez looks and talks like the real Gianni that it was sometimes jarring. And what great revelation Ricky martin is here. I know he has acted before, and I have seen him on stage even on Les Miserable, but his Antonio D’Amico here has great shades of subtlety (I suspect Murphy’s hand there)  Penelope Cruz is inspired casting – there’s just a dash of camp there for vavavavoom but you never feel it isn’t real – Cruz gives her great humanity. And Darren Criss is blazing hot to look at as Andrew Cunanan, which probably best represented the character: all accounts from people he knew said he had charm. There are moments of deep depth in Criss here – in the ‘fantasy’ sequence of him and Versace on stage at the San Francisco Opera, you can see his mind swirling as Cunanan’s probably was- but slim writing probably hindered him in some scenes. When he gets to his car after killing Versace, we never truly know what is going on in Cunanan’s mind, and Criss never really filled in the blanks there.

For sure, though, the show is great to look at and sounds incredible. The bright Miami sunlight gives it a great glow, and there is that stunning opening sequence of Casa Casuarina choreographed to Albinoni’s Adagio. I am hooked, and cannot wait for the next episodes.

Forty Minutes (Television Thoughts: LA To Vegas, Fox)

e9518fde6f76e8581c96650f25a9a1e4Here it is, the first I am writing about for 2018, and it is a sitcom whose premise I am a little familiar with. ‘LA To Vegas’ is about people who fly every weekend from Los Angeles to Vegas, and even though I am not one of those people, I have taken this forty minute flight a lot of times, so many times that I could close my eyes right now and can experience it in my mind.

Really, though, this is a workplace sitcom about the weekly Jackpot Airlines flight (think Spirit or Frontier) starring Dylan McDermott as Captain Dave, the kind of irreverent pilot who mans the flight.  (He drinks, he shakes) There’s flight attendant Ronnie (Kim Matula) who dreams of working a more exotic flight but is stuck in this route. And of course there is a gay flight attendant Bernard (Nathan Lee Morris) and a host of different supporting characters, mostly regulars who take the same flight each week.

I was attracted to this initially because of producer Steve Levithan, from  ‘Modern Family.’  At two episodes in, this isn’t as laugh out loud as that show is for me, but I want to give this time. None of the characters has irritated me yet, and the familiar circumstances give it more appeal for me,

O Mi Roma (Television Thoughts: Rome Unpacked, BBC)

51f1AnCwWmL._SY445_I have been to Rome a number of times and each time I am there I discover new things. But in a sense, I feel like I don’t know it at all. I tend to be there during the tourist season of summertime, so I don’t know if I am getting the ‘real’ Rome. Isn’t it true most of the Romans go on holiday during summer, so perhaps I really have not gotten to know the real Rome yet.

Fortunately, BBC has a new-ish show called ‘Rome Unpacked’ with Andrew Graham Dixon and Girogio Locatelli. Dixon is a famed art historian, and Locatelli a chef, so between the two of them, we get a fuller view of Rome’s artistry. On the first episode, for example, Locatelli cooks a fish soup that they got from the local market, and it looks wonderful. It’s simple – he gets skate fish, and does a broth filled with Italian broccolli florets and just your garden variety vegetables. But I bet all of them put together makes a wonderful savory bowl.


Living Single (Television Thoughts: SMILF)

9e8226482e5cb624318c353731c71164SMILF is a woman-centric show. It was created and stars Frankie Shaw as Bridget, a single mom struggling to balance everything in her life. She has her baby-daddy who is kind of there, but mostly not, and she has to deal with her mom (Rosie O Donnell) who is eccentric in her own right – kind of a Jewish mother but Italian-Catholic. Set in South Boston, Bridget is always scrounging for cash, and we find out she was a New York struggling actress once (She appeared in Law and Order)

There’s a lot of underscore here – perhaps Bridget is a little bitter about what might been, but at the same time we see how dedicated she is to her son. She behaves badly at times – she takes home an ex for sex in her house while her son is sleeping, or she sleeps with a college student she was just tutoring a year before. But she has a heart of gold. While Bridget is definitely written three dimensionally, I wish it wasn’t in a manner as cliched. Going back to O’Donnell, she is perfectly cast her, and nice to see her doing more in a comedic role,

But maybe because of Rosie, though surely not because of her, I think the show is very gay – well, gay woman skewing anyway. there’s a lot of sapphic touches – the woman Bridget works for (Connie Britton) is a closeted lesbian, and at one point even propositions her for a threesome with her husband. And there are too many references to vagina, and even more scenes of Bridget and her penis envy tendencies.

Five episodes in, I wouldn’t necessarily say I am hooked, but I am certainly interested. I hope this interest does not wane, as I have high hopes for this show to succeed.

A Spring Comeback (Television Thoughts: Will And Grace, The Fall Season)

Will & Grace - Season 1Just finished watching the ‘Fall Finale’ of Will and Grace, and I guess we will not be seeing the show for a couple of months, though I think there is a Christmas episode coming up.  I know I wrote about the pilot, mainly praising it, and thankfully, with each week the show just brought it on. I will not lie and tell you that every joke on every show landed (for me) but the show did one thing for me – it made me want to ‘make an appointment’ with the show every Thursday night at 9 pm, and I don’t even do that with any of my favorite shows. I wanted to support it, and even though I am not a Neilsen household, I wanted my television to be on it on the actual time it was on.

And all four actors just got better and better every week – these characters are all second skin to them, but they even manage to flesh out a little bit something to them. Look at Hayes during the ‘gay conversion’ episode. When he tells his grandson that he is ok, it never sounded prerachy because one can actually see that character say the exact same words. And Mullaly on the sixth episode, when her maid Rosario dies, gives the character just enough pathos and vulnerability amidst the comedy. I know both have won Emmys for their roles, but I can’t see them not getting more next September. I give them special mention but McCormack and Messing both are as good. I know I am sounding like the biggest W &  G fanboy, but I have to say I wasn’t even a big fan of it when it was on. I stopped watching it after its third or fourth season, if I recall, so maybe there’s something here that is touching me – perhaps it’s the times we live in, perhaps it’s the political climate. And speaking of which, it was good to see that the later episodes become almost non-political, although the show is always topical, and perhaps too much at times.  I will eagerly await its return next year.