Thursday, August 9, 2007

Being entertained and avoiding the tyranny of forced pants wearing.

There are a lot of new original programs on cable right now. I'm not watching many of them. I cannot comment on the merits of The Closer, Saving Grace, Rescue Me, Damages, Burn Notice or several others now being shown on TNT, USA F/X and several other cable networks. I can say I'm still enjoying Mad Men on AMC, which will air the fourth of its six installments tonight. And adding to my positive reviews, I recommend The Company on TNT, which airs in two hour segments each Sunday night. It's a story about the history of the CIA. The first two hours were about Berlin in the 1950's, when the British liaison in Washington was the traitor Kim Philby. Alfred Molina, pictured above, plays the American spymaster in Berlin whose assets are being picked off by the Soviets. He's really good. Also featured in the cast are Michael Keaton and Chris O'Donnell, who are also doing good work. If I were a childish person obsessed with trivia, I might write that you'll come for the Batman and Robin, but you'll stay for the Dr. Octopus.

If I were a childish person.

I haven't had HBO for several seasons since the price of cable keeps going up and a satellite dish is impractical in the apartment where I live, so I have to wait for my favorite HBO shows to come out on DVD before I can enjoy them. I have just finished season three of Deadwood, which HBO in its confused state decided to cancel.

The third season had a lot of excellent additions, including Brian Cox as a theatrical producer, but the plot of the series was largely moved by the arrival in the camp of George Hearst, the mining baron who would later become a newspaper baron. Hearst was played by Gerald McRaney in the best performance of his career. This is not surprising, as the writing on Deadwood makes it one of the best shows ever on TV.

Regular viewers of Deadwood may have thought that Ian McShane as Al Swearingen was the pinnacle of evil passing as commerce when the show began. Then, the character of Cy Tolliver played by Powers Boothe was introduced, and you might have thought that he was the pinnacle of an evil businessman. Then we meet George Hearst and once again the perspective changes.

As many regular viewers may agree, I ended up thinking of Al Swearingen as a force working for the good of the camp by the end of season three, despite his vicious throat cutting ways. I never felt that way about Cy Tolliver. As for George Hearst, well... I recommend you watch for yourself and see what you think about the miserable evil shit. I, of course, remain an impartial observer on the subject.

I enjoyed the commentaries by cast and crew, but would like to remind people making comments in early episodes that the viewer may not know who lives and dies in later episodes yet, and to keep such information to themselves.

Deadwood on DVD. The Company on TNT Sunday nights. Matty Boy says check them out.

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