Justified Over the Mountain

1Credit: FX

There are certain things in an episode of Justified that will automatically bring a smile to my face. At the top of the list is any scene that features both Raylan and Boyd. If I’m not mistaken, “Over the Mountain” features the first of those scenes this season and although it wasn’t a vintage Raylan/Boyd scene, it was pretty satisfying, as was the rest of the episode. I still am on the fence about Michael Rapaport in this role but overall I’m enjoying the season.

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The Failure of Greater Atlanta

Atlanta skyline Jackson St Bridge Om via Compfight

As a former resident of Atlanta, I was not surprised to hear the news about the terrible traffic problems during the snow storm on Tuesday. The reason I was not surprised is not because Atlanta is a southern city that is poorly prepared for snow, but because traffic in Atlanta is always bad. When I lived there, my commute was from Midtown near City Hall East to Dunwwoody, just behind Perimeter Mall. This was mostly before the MARTA station opened at Perimeter Mall so my only real option was to drive, which meant taking the Connector (I-75/85) to GA-400. On good days, it was a thirty minute drive. On bad days, like Halloween 1997, it could take more than three hours. I haven’t lived in Atlanta for over ten years but given that it was, and continues to be, unlikely that MARTA is ever going to expand until it becomes a realistic commuting option, the traffic situation has only gotten worse.

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True Detective The Locked Room

680x478 (680×478)Credit: HBO

The critics that reviewed True Detective were given three episodes, which is the point that I’ve now reached. What would my review have been? Very positive. Very, very positive. Now, full disclosure: I am fascinated with stories about the lies we tell ourselves in order to make life tolerable. I’m so interested in that idea that I tend to see all stories through that lens. It’s why Mad Men and Breaking Bad have so much resonance for me. True Detective, especially in “The Locked Room”, is explicitly about these lies. Detectives Hart and Cohle have built elaborate structures in their minds to stop themselves from going insane (with varying degrees of success). This case may cause those structures to collapse.

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Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond

Credit: BBC America

The idea of this four-part mini-series (or four-week event as BBC America is calling it) doesn’t strike me as particularly interesting. However, the critics think it’s worth watching so why not tune in tonight at 10:00 pm for the first episode.

Here are some trailers:

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True Detective Seeing Things

680x478 (680×478)Credit: HBO

There were a few things that occurred to me watching “Seeing Things”, the second episode of True Detective. One was the recommendation of David Simon not to judge a season of television until the season is complete. While I liked the first episode of True Detective, I had doubts about it. After “Seeing Things”, I’m committed. Watching this episode, I also thought of how where we live shapes our behavior. I thought the stoicism of my father, a lifelong Vermonter. I thought of the vigilance of my wife, Brooklyn born and bred. And I thought of the long conversations in the car between Marty Hart and Rust Cohle and what that says about their part of Louisiana.

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Justified Good Intentions

1Credit: FX

While I was not impressed with the season opener, the last two episodes of Justified have made me feel better. Daryl Crowe (Michael Rappaport) is in Harlan and while it seems Daryl is causing problems for Dewey he is actually helping Dewey. Dewey can’t understand why he isn’t making more money at the whorehouse and Daryl gets to the bottom of it: Messer has been skimming money to give to Boyd. This puts Boyd and the Crowes at odds, and things are always better on Justified when things get complicated.

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Looking Looking For Now

 

Esquire recently received criticism for its piece on the new HBO series Looking. The piece fails not because it’s offensive, although it is, but because it’s not very funny. Then again, I’m probably not the target demo for the piece (or for Esquire in general) and maybe it was pitched perfectly for it’s intended audience. What is true about the piece is that it gets at something about Looking that I agree with, at least after one episode: This is not the HBO series about three gay men in San Francisco that you would expect. I think this is probably a good thing.

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Broad City

 

Broad City started out as a web series and tonight is making its début on Comedy Central. The series was created by and stars Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. I’m probably unhip in that I’d never heard of Jacobson or Glazer or Broad City until recently but the series is getting good buzz and one of the producers is Amy Poehler, who we can all agree is great.

Here are some reviews:

James Poniewozik, Matt Zoller Seitz, Alasdair Wilkins and Willa Paskin

Also, Denise Martin has the ten scenes that Jacobson and Glazer don’t want to show their parents.

It Never Occurred To Me

 

As many of you probably know by now, Grantland published a piece last Wednesday called “Dr. V’s Magical Putter” that started out about a golf putter and then turned into something very different. By Friday there was a lot of negative feedback on the piece, especially with regard to the way it dealt with a transgendered person. On Monday, Grantland editor-in-chief Bill Simmons posted a response and so did ESPN reporter Christina Kahrl, who is transgender. As you would expect, Alyssa Rosenberg had some interesting thoughts on the matter, as did others. The thing that stands out for me is Simmons’ repeated assertions that the problems with the process in deciding to publish the piece never occurred to him or his editors. To be clear, I believe Simmons. I believe Simmons because one of the by-products of being a heterosexual white male in this country (which also describes me) is the inability to know what you don’t know with regard other races or genders or sexual preferences or other characteristics that are not well-represented and discussed in popular culture.

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Bruce Springsteen High Hopes

Credit: Bruce Springsteen

Is it hacky if I start off my review of Bruce Springsteen’s latest album by saying that it’s been a while since I’ve had high hopes for a new Springsteen album? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Bruce Springsteen’s eighteenth studio album, High Hopes, is unusual Springsteen is that it features three covers, one song previously released on a live album plus an alternate version of the title song from 1995’s The Ghost of Tom Joad. It’s not unusual for Springsteen to comb through his backlog to find things to release, and that doesn’t mean the album can’t be great. So is High Hopes great?

Okay, maybe that was too much to hope for. A better question is where does High Hopes rank in the Springsteen canon? Keep in mind that this opinion will really only be firmed up in a few years when High Hopes either drops down in my listening rotation or stays relevant.

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