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Archive for March, 2018

This picture pretty much conveys my feelings about now. While there has been some melting and the days are getting longer, Hobbiton still remains buried under 80 inches of snow.

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Currently, everyone is agog over the reboot of the 1990s sitcom, Roseanne. Color me unimpressed. I wasn’t a fan of the original show–the characters were largely unlikeable, the writers seemed more concerned with sending a message than telling a story, and–the real nail in the coffin–the show simply wasn’t funny.

The show from that time period that I enjoyed the most was Married with Children. It’s hard to believe now, but at the time Married with Children was considered quite controversial. The Bundys were a highly dysfunctional family and the comedy was exaggerated and transgressive. Al, the family patriarch, was a bitter man hanging on to his glory days as a star high school quarterback. Peg, the mother, was disinterested in her kids and disillusioned with her husband. Bud was their loser son and Kelly was the airhead daughter. What sold me on the series, however, was that when the chips were down, the Bundys put aside their in-fighting and banded together. Beneath all that dysfunction, there was a lot of love for one another.

For a blue collar show that speaks to my working class reality, however, you need to come forward in time to Hap and Leonard. While the show is set in 1980s Texas, it resonates with my Arnorian upbringing. I knew guys like Hap and Leonard, I grew up with them, and sometimes I’ve been them. Hap (James Purefoy) is a man destined to march to the beat of his own drummer and usually in the opposite direction that everyone else is marching in–and there’s nothing more Arnorian than that. Leonard (Michael Kenneth Williams) rages against injustice of the world and as a black man and a gay man, he sees a lot of injustice.  The show itself has a largely rural setting and the characters aren’t that far removed from living off the land.

In their latest outing, the Two Bear Mambo–author Joe Lansdale comes up with the best titles–lawyer Florida Grange goes missing in the Klan-run town of Groveston and Hap and Leonard set out to find her.

 

 

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How far thou has fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, Son of the Morningstar.

[Spoilers: Some general plot points will be discussed in this post. If you want to keep your mind pristine, please stop reading now. Of course, Lucifer would tell you to keep reading …..]

As we learn in the opening credits of Season 1, Lucifer was cast out of Heaven and reigned in Hell. That is, right up until he decided to take a vacation to–where else?–Los Angeles. The City of Angels is one big party for Lucifer–booze, babes, and the blues (and jazz and rock and roll and other genres of the Devil’s music, etc.)–until a young singer is killed outside his club, Lux. Determined to punish the guilty party, Lucifer teams up with Detective Chloe Decker, a B-movie actress turned police officer, to find the murderer.

And the rest is three seasons worth of history. In Season 1, Lucifer, played by the tall, dark, and handsome Tom Ellis, discovers that he enjoys punishing the guilty and winds up as a civilian consultant to the LAPD. He is partnered with Chloe Decker (Lauren German) who is a pariah in her department due to her investigation into police corruption on the force. Disturbingly, the immortal Lucifer discovers that not only is Chloe immune to his powers, but he becomes mortal when he’s around her. Along the way, Lucifer has to deal with his older brother, Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside)’s, efforts to return him to Hell and his right-hand demon, Mazikeen (Lesley-Ann Brandt)’s, not-always-welcome efforts to look out for him. Fortunately, he has a therapist (because everyone in L.A. has a therapist), Dr. Linda Martin (Rachael Harris), to confide in.

In Season 2, Lucifer discovers that his absence from Hell has allowed a high-value prisoner to escape–his dear old mum. Lucifer’s mother, the Goddess of Creation, has possessed the body of a high powered lawyer, Charlotte Richards (Tricia Helfner), and plots to return to Heaven and confront her estranged husband, God. Meanwhile, Amenadiel has his own problems as he has begun to lose his angelic powers. Mazikeen has embarked on a new career as a bounty hunter, Linda continues to administer therapy to dysfunctional supernatural beings, and Chloe and Lucifer alternately fan and step on the embers of their budding romance. Added to the cast, the plucky forensic technician, Ella Lopez (Aimee Garcia).

In Season 3 (about halfway done at the time of this writing), Lucifer contends with the rise of a sinister “godfather”, the Sinnerman, cutting into his favor-granting biz and the arrive of a hotshot police officer, Lt. Pierce (Tom Welling), the new head of Chloe’s department.

Lucifer sports some of the most solid writing on TV. All the characters are well-rounded, the scripts are both funny and poignant, and the mysteries entertaining. It’s also a very musical show which is perhaps not surprising given the number of songs that reference Heaven, Hell, angels, sin, etc. Leading man Tom Ellis has an excellent voice.

As a non-human, Lucifer has a fish-out-of-water-eye’s view of human activities and his help on the case tends to be more accidental than deliberate. What that means in practice is that the female characters take on the more aggressive, protector roles usually accorded to men.

It’s also the kind of show that raises tantalizing questions about the Afterlife. We learn, for example, that people’s feelings of guilt about their past actions, not the Devil, are what consigns them to Hell. Given that most everyone has done something that they feel guilty about, does that mean that everyone goes to Hell? Conversely, is Heaven populated by sociopaths/psychopaths who have no feelings of guilt over their actions?

Verdict: Give in to your desires and watch Lucifer. You’ll be glad you did.

 

 

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If you’re a fan of both Weird Al Yankovic and the musical Hamilton, then you will enjoy this polka tribute from Weird Al:

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