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Sunday, February 23, 2014

That's Entertainment: Some TV, Some Books and Good-bye Piers Morgan

Let's keep this a little light.

Sitting home over the weekend, not feeling great and trying to catch up on TV shows I have missed. Did a marathon session of the episodes of "Spies of Warsaw." OK, but not as good as the Allan Furst novels. Also marathoned my way through a two or three year old British show, "The Hour." It was a pretty good yarn about an effort in the 1950s to bring the BBC news service into the modern age by putting on an "edgy" news hour once a week. The effort runs into big and little politics, as well as a cleverly told story of Cold War espionage, the Suez crisis, and the 1956 US elections. Although it falls apart a bit in the last couple of episodes, it is worth watching, the acting is excellent, and surprisingly the show is free of the glib and tiresome anti-Americanism one finds in many British shows.

I am also in the process of plowing through the American version of "House of Cards." I liked the British original, with the superb Ian Richardson, and was wary of anything dealing with Congress and starring well-known lib Kevin Spacey. I, however, was pleasantly surprised. It has its politically correct moments, of course, but provides a very well acted and scathing look at Democrat party operatives and activists, and an unrelentingly grim view of Washington, D.C. At times the writers get D.C., at times they don't; they focus on weird things that would not be scandals and miss ones that would be--and the stories built around foreign affairs are, well, quite laughable. Again, however, despite its flaws, worth watching.

Also want to catch up on HBO's "True Detective" which seems headed for the status of classic TV along the lines of "The Wire," and "Breaking Bad." Again, superb acting, writing, directing, and cinematography.

In between all this ROKU madness, I am reading two books. Between Man and Beast, by Monte Reel, tells of the impact on mid-nineteenth century scientific and religious thought and popular culture of the "discovery" of the gorilla in Africa. Good stuff.

The other book is very creepy. Death in the City of Light, by David King, tells the true story of Dr. Petiot, a notorious serial killer who operated in Paris during the German occupation. He promised his 60 or more victims, many of them desperate Jews, safe passage out of Paris to South America, but would instead rob, torture, and murder them. There have been a couple of films made on Petiot, but none captures the true weirdness of the case, and none provides a look at the French police in Paris during the occupation trying to conduct regular police work. Again, worth picking up.

While in this popular culture sort of mood, I ran into this article in the NY Times. In it we learn that CNN has decided to pull the plug on the low-rated Piers Morgan's talk show--the one he took over from Larry King. Read the article: it is surprisingly non-PC for something in the Times, with some surprisingly prescient comments, for the Times, on why Americans got fed up with Morgan going on and on about gun ownership in the US.

I don't think, however, as the article semi-implies that people tuned out Morgan because he had an accent--that hasn't hurt Swartzenegger or a zillion other foreigners on American TV and cinema--nor was it because Americans are provincial. If anything, I think Morgan is the provincial one; he just assumed he did not need to know anything about American history or culture before chirping away with lots of advice and condescension. I like and admire Britain a great deal, and am fortunate to have counted lots of British diplomats, military, businessmen, journalists, academics, students and others among my friends during my many years abroad. That said, when you run into the classic anti-American Brit--OMG!--it becomes very, as noted above, tiresome; you quickly realize that much of it is driven by ignorance and envy. Getting back to Piers, he clearly has a deep streak of anti-Americanism, and a sense of entitlement, but above all, is just not very interesting nor apparently all that smart. I tried watching his show, but found it unbearable, as he kept seeking to be the star instead of letting his guest have the limelight-- or, the limey light?  

OK, where is that remote?

34 comments:

  1. I certainly hope Nancy Pelosi will have a chance to give Morgan her lecture on how fortunate he is to be without a job. Now he can chase his inner muse!

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  2. Also, let's not forget Morgan's gay marriage episode, when he did his level best to make Ryan Anderson look like an idiot. Unless you believe Anderson was already an idiot for being opposed to the notion, he failed. And made himself look like a pompous jerk.

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  3. It can,t happen too fast, to get rid of this pompous idiot. He is on the wrong side of nearly every issue, and seems to revel in that fact.
    Perhaps he'll go back to judging high school cheerleaders and karaoke failures.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I had a long confinement period a while back and didn't feel all that swift. I treated myself to the Silver Anniversary collection of "To the Manor Born" which is quite enjoyable in rapid viewing as opposed to weekly installments. Also, I made great inroads into my collection of "Midsomer Murders" as well as my "Brother Cadfael" collection.

    I am beside myself with joy that I never watched a single episode of Piers Morgan's show. That should gain me some credit in some circles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "To the Manor Born" Loved that show. If you haven't seen it get "The Irish RM"!

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    2. I have heard of the "Irish RM" but have not watched. I will check on it and am betting it is available on DVD.

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    3. It's has Peter Bowles in it. It goes a long long long way in explaining why Ireland is as P. J. O'Rourke says "the land that passeth all understanding"!

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  5. Regarding the book on the Paris serial killer, another one I found interesting is "A Serial Killer In Nazi Berlin", by Scott Andrew Selby. The story of Paul Ogorzow and his random attacks on women on the S-Bahn is made especially horrific due to the direct interference of Goebbels, Heydrich and Himmler. Their interference directly contributed to more attacks and murders than ought to have occurred, due to suppression of widespread publicity about the attacks. Like King's book, this one is likewise worth reading.

    John

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    Replies
    1. I will definitely look it up.

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    2. http://www.amazon.com/Berlin-Novel-Pierre-Frei/dp/B005Q7LMRW

      Berlin, by Pierre Frei is also quite good and deals with the post-war German police (under Allied occupation) trying to track a serial killer who was operating before and during the war.

      My dad was in Berlin for the occupation in the early 50s doing intel work and said this book really brought back some memories.

      Delete
  6. The Brits don't want him either!!
    Kirkbride

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    Replies
    1. My daughter wonders is some of the higher management at CNN might be closeted conservatives. Piers Morgan given the heave-ho from CNN, Martin Bashir resigning from MSNBC ... I mean, who else at failing networks might be given more time to spend with their families? I don't think management is turning conservative, though - I think they are looking at the bottom line in a hard-headed way and realizing that if they carry on with openly, nastily partisan personalities, they are going to be nothing but a smoking, bankrupt hole in the ground as viewers abandon them. Food for thought, anyway.

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    2. Celia,
      The Dems would just start funneling them public monies on the QT just to keep them going, if they are not already.

      Delete
  7. One of my favorite British detective shows is "Prime Suspect" staring Helen Mirren.

    What is it about the Brits producing outstanding shows and actors? It truly seems like even the most mediocre of British actors stands head and shoulders, from an acting standpoint, above their American counter points.

    -Blake

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    Replies
    1. Good question as they sure have a knack. Most of them become very popular over here on the "confused side of the pond".

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    2. It's the difference between being an actor, playing a role to tell a story, and being a movie star, and playing yourself.

      Delete
  8. "Mirror editor sacked over fake photos of Brits torturing people." Morgan should have never been given a job in the media in the USA.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1461904/Mirror-editor-sacked-over-fake-photos-of-torture.html

    ReplyDelete
  9. As an Army civilian employee I worked for 4 years on a cooperative effort with the Brits. For the most part I enjoyed it immensely and thought our counterparts to be a good group of people. One impression I came away, with, however, is that they pretty much all thought they understood the US. Very few of them did. I always credited that to the fact that we export so much television and cinema and people abroad mistake that for reality.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, indeed. Much of what foreigners "know" about the US they get from Hollywood

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    2. God help us. I disappointed many a Brit and Austrian by not talking like Fred Flintstone or sporting a holstered Colt .45. I promised to do better.

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    3. Damn Whitewall. No holstered .45. You have shattered my belief system in all things wholesomely American.
      Go on you can tell us [we promise not to spread it around] you had a 9mm in a shoulder holster didn't you?

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    4. Good morning David. I regret to say I was completely unhealed at the time. But I did make a convincing argument that my horse and Stetson hat collection was coming on the next flight from Dulles. Re the shoulder holster, I always preferred one as I used to have enough problems keeping my trousers up. I am looking into remedial courses on "all things American".

      Delete
    5. "I always preferred one as I used to have enough problems keeping my trousers up"

      We had a Prime Minister years ago by the name of Fraser. He had the same problem with his trousers in Memphis. Mrs F was not pleased.

      Delete
  10. Piers Morgan was not very popular in the UK either. Every time he appeared as a guest on the satirical current affairs show 'Have I Got News For You' hosts Deayton, Hislop and Merton would tear him a new one mercilessly.

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  11. A little happiness. Savor this day.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Sorry, I'm late to this thread so I suspect that I am merely the last in a long line of Brits urging you, America, to please, please, keep Piers Morgan. I know you don't deserve him but, dammit, as Leader of the Free World it's the least you can do!

    Also, I have just watched the first episode of 'True Detective' not least because I would watch Woody Harrelson paper his living-room so good an actor is he. However, the Louisiana accents and the modern Anglo-Saxon habit of never knowingly hitting a hard consonant so that 'all right' comes out as an incomprehensible 'o-ri' made it hard work. However, by the end I did begin to realise that Woody's partner is an existential idiot with a line in pseudo philosophical and psychiatric gobbledegook which makes him an A1 crasher of the first water! Even so, I shall continue to watch, my faith in 'good ol' Woody' is not yet diminished.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't give up. It gets very weird and quite interesting. The accents are tough, however, and if you have cc you might want to have it subtitled.

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    2. David, since I don't detect anyone here from NZ, maybe our cousins down there would like to have Piers Morgan all to themselves?

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    3. G'day Whitewall,
      The Stetsons were obviously white ones you being one of the good guys.

      Don't even mention in jest sending Piers Morgan to "the Land of the Long White Cloud".

      There may not be many of them but our cousins across the Tasman are a fearsome lot when they are truly annoyed.

      Generally speaking they are an amiable lot except where they perceive someone wants to do them harm or on the Rugby pitch and sending Morgan to them would be a doubtful issue.

      We don't want him either - he is a self opinionated, delusional wanker and that's on his good days.

      Delete
  13. I have been watching "Doc Martin," the ITV series, on Net Flix. It is excellent and the writers have, so far, gotten every medical story correct. That is a pet peeve of mine and it is very rare for movies or TV to get medical facts right.

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    Replies
    1. paul_vincent_zecchinoFebruary 25, 2014 at 10:49 PM

      "You're fine. Go home."

      "There's nothing wrong with you. You're fat. Get out."


      Doc Martin for Surgeon General!

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    2. Sounds like my Dr. He even tells me I'm still ugly if I ever mention a second opinion. I quit asking.

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