Thursday, September 27, 2012

Premieres: Showtime's Dexter and Homeland


Dexter begins its 7th season on Showtime at 9pm Sunday, September 30.  Watch a preview of the first two minutes.
When we last saw Dexter (played by Michael C. Hall) he was in the abandoned church, the headquarters of the villain of the season, the Doomsday killer. He had just dispatched the killer. His sister Debra (played by Jennifer Carpenter), discovers him standing over the dead body of the Doomsday Killer. Is this the end for Dexter, our favorite serial killer? 

Not quite yet. The preview lets us in on how Dexter explains a dead body lying on an altar, wrapped in plastic, with a knife in his chest. Whenever, we think Dexter’s career as a serial-killer/public-avenger is about to be over, Dexter always manages to escape, to cover up, to explain. 

Debra is first and foremost a cop, so her first instinct is to call in a report. Dexter told Debra that the killing was done in self-defense. He says he snapped because of all the anger he has over the murder of his wife. Dexter begs her not to make the call. He tells her he will lose his job if she does. He reminds her of his toddler son, Harrison—what will happen to Harrison?  It looks like he is successful in persuading her to become part of the cover-up.

If you saw the last episode of season 6, you probably remember why Debra was in that church. Debra has decided that all her romantic relationships end badly because she is in love with Dexter. That was the ick-moment of the episode. 

However, it’s not totally icky, because Dexter was adopted by Debra’s parents. There is no blood relationship.  But still it is icky.  They were raised together as brother and sister. They are brother and sister whether or not there is a biological connection. 

Debra is in for a heap of hurt now. She went to the church because she could not wait a single moment before telling Dexter she is in love with him.  (Most of us might want to wait for just-the right-moment before launching into a declaration of quasi-incestuous love.)  Not Debra, she is the impulsive type when it comes to affairs of the heart.  

Now Debra has to deal with her inappropriate feelings of love and her entirely appropriate feelings of horror about what her brother has done. I think all talk of romantic feelings are going to be put on hold for a while.
So far Debra only knows about this one murder.  How will she react if, or when, she finds out about all the other murders? 

One way or another, Dexter will prevail.  After all, we have a whole season to get through, and then there is season 8, the last season.  It won’t be much of a show if Dexter spends the season on Death Row.   

“Homeland” begins its second season on Showtime at 10 pm, Sunday, September 30.  Everything I have read about season 2 says it is going to be a stunner.  Read my pre-review of "Homeland."  


Monday, September 24, 2012

Showtime Homeland Season 2 Preview

I'm naming this review "Returning Home(land)."

Season 2 of “Homeland” will begin on Sunday, September 30th, 2012 on Showtime. Episode 1 is named “The Smile.” “Homeland” has plenty to smile about today. The show and cast won four Emmys.  The show won in every category in which it was nominated.

·       Homeland was voted the “Outstanding Drama Series.”  Both of the lead actors and the writers also won Emmys

·       Damian Lewis who plays Nicholas Brody (ex marine, current Congressman, and secret terrorist involved in plots against America) won “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.”

·       Claire Danes who plays Carrie Mathison, CIA agent with a bi-polar disorder) won for “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.”

·       Homeland also won in the “Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series” category for the pilot episode.
There is a 20 minute preview of the first episode of season 2 available online on the Showtime website. It looks like we are all set for an exciting season of this psychological thriller.

Carrie Mathison is a CIA agent who suspected Nicholas Brody of having been “turned” during the eight years he spent as a prisoner of war in Afghanistan. Everyone considers Nick to be a hero, but Carrie will not let go of her suspicions. She becomes his lover to get closer to him and the relationship turns serious for both of them when they go away together for a weekend. Nick discovers that she is a CIA agent, Carrie confesses her suspicions, but says she was wrong about him. Nick breaks it off with her.

We, the audience, know that Carrie is right about Nick. During his captivity he was chosen by a prominent al Qaeda leader, Abu Nazir, to tutor Nazir’s young son in English. Nick becomes very fond of the boy, and is devastated when the boy is liked in a U.S. drone strike. Nick is now primed to get revenge for the boy’s death. His particular target is Vice President William Walden, the former director of the CIA, who played a prominent role in ordering the drone strikes.  

Nick, after some initial difficulties, has resumed his relationship with his family and his country. He is hailed as a hero, and Vice President Walden recruits him to run for Congress. He wins. He had attempted a suicide mission to kill Walden and other top government officials, but his suicide vest malfunctioned. He then convinced Nazir that he could be a more effective agent if he worked from the inside. In the season 2 premier, Walden, who plans to run for president, approaches Congressman Brody and asks him to be on his short list of possible VP picks. Nick accepts.

While Nick is leading a charmed life, Carrie’s life is unraveling. She enters into a manic state trying to prove Nick is a terrorist. We know that Carrie actually saved Walden’s life by storming into Nick’s home and convincing Nick’s teen-aged daughter to call him. The pleas of his daughter moved Nick not to carry out his mission. Nick admits to having had a brief affair with Carrie, and everyone believes she is the spurned-lover turned crazy woman who is stalking and harassing Nick. The CIA learns that she is bi-polar, and she is fired from the agency.

In the season 1 finale, Carrie is about to undergo shock treatment. One of the side effects is short term memory loss. Just as she is being sedated for the procedure she remembers that Nick had called out the name of Nazir’s son in his sleep. She realizes that this connects him to Nazir. Her CIA mentor and friend, Saul Berenson (played by Mandy Patinkin) is present, but she loses consciousness before she can tell him anything.

In the season 2 premier, Carrie is a happy woman. She is living with her parents, taking her meds, gardening, and teaching English as a Second Language adult education class. Her calm ordered life is about to change. An “asset” that Carrie had recruited, a woman in Beirut Lebanon, has warned of an attack on America, but she will not speak to anyone but Carrie. Carrie is asked to fly to Beirut to speak with this woman. Carrie no longer wants to be part of the CIA (and has obviously forgotten the clue she understood just before her shock treatments), but she sees this trip as her patriotic duty. She reluctantly agrees.  This is the Girl,-you-don't-know-what-you-are-in-for moment of the preview.  

Carrie gets into the car that will take her to the airport as the end of the 20-minute preview of season 2 episode 1.  She thinks she will be gone for only three days, but we, the audience, know it won’t happen that way. There will be complications, and Carrie will continue in her crusade to protect America from terrorists and one terrorist, Nick Body, in particular.  I hope she packed her meds.

I found this poster at

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Real Time with Bill Maher September 21, 2012 #260

I enjoyed episode #260 (September 21, 2012) of the Bill Maher show.  It rolled along at a good clip with some humor and some serious discussion.  “I’m naming it “You Make Me Sick.” 

I chose that name because of a joke Bill did in his opening monologue. The video of Romney dismissing the 47% of the people in this country who don’t pay income taxes led Bill to joke, “Romney’s new campaign slogan should be “Get out of my sight , America. You make me sick.”  But when Bill was being serious he said, “Romney is doing something very stupid. He’s expressing the core beliefs of the Republican party publically.” Thank you, Bill Maher. For a week all the talking heads are talking, talking, talking, about this video, and you summed it all up in two sentences.

Another good joke. Bill commented on Tim Pawlenty resigning as co-chair of the Romney campaign. “Tim Pawlenty is afraid Romney will make him look like a loser.  (Get it. Tim Pawlenty is such a big loser that his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination was over right after Iowa. And now Pawlenty is worried that Romney’s loser cooties will rub off on him, the losingest loser of the Republican primary.)

The interview was with Eugene Jarecki, a documentary filmmaker whose film “The House I Live In” is now in theaters. He talked about how the “war on drugs” was just Jim Crow in another form. It is all about keeping black progress down. They are down to begin with and then get pushed down further. It reminds me of those parents who when their child is crying, yell at the child, “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to really cry about.” It’s a vicious, nasty, abuse of power in both cases.

Chris Matthews, the host of MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” was on the panel, complete with his signature derisive “Ha!”  When he thinks somebody is really reaching and/or stretching the truth, he says “Ha!” It’s a one-syllable take-down. He did it a few times on this show. Usually it is the conservative on the panel sucking up all the air in the room, but Chris Mathews took on that role on this show. I’m OK with that because at least Chris makes sense when he talks.

That being said, I’m not giving the conservative a free pass. The conservative seat was taken by Roger Hedgecock, described as a radio talk show host. I had never heard of him before. He’s a tall thin man who reminded of a line from Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, “Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look.”  He looked dangerous to me, like he could spit daggers out of his mouth. What actually did come out of his mouth was the usual Republican mantras—lies, exaggerations, evasiveness, false analogies, etc.  For instance, during overtime, the group is having a perfectly reasonable discussion about whether or not regulating business helps or hinders the economy.  Roger pipes up about some little girl who had her lemonade stand closed down because she didn’t have a permit. For goodness sake, Roger, if that is all you can add to the discussion, shut up and let the grown-ups talk.

The “expert” seat on the panel went to Rana Foroohar, an editor and columnist for economics at Time Magazine. She was definitely the grown up in the room. She had the facts and presented them fairly and calmly. She reported that Romney’s ideas are George W. Bush’s ideas, the ideas that have been a disaster for the American economy. She pointed out that Obama has done good things for the economy; for instance, the stock market has doubled in value, and the unemployment rate is falling as new jobs are created every month. I wish people who complain about Obama would realize that without Obama the economy would be much sicker than it is. When he came into office the economy was heading for a death spiral.  And if the Republicans had not blocked just about every jobs bill, the economy would most likely be much better.

Bill pointed out that the 47% who are not paying income taxes is mainly composed of the elderly, the veterans and the working poor.  He then summed that up in a pithy remark, “They raised you, they defended you, and they did the work that allowed you [Romney and the other 1-percenters] to have your cushy life.”  It makes me sick that the rich whiners cannot see that.

Bill also pointed out that Romney is not the problem, he is the symptom. He said, “The Republican party doesn’t need new people, it needs new ideas.” Bill was appalled by the people in the room to whom Romney was speaking during that video.  The questions they asked were sick. They have so much, but they are whining and complaining because they can’t have even more. (By the way, the people in the room paid $50,000 each to be there—more than the average working American earns in a year.)

The comedy break on this show was very pointed satire. It focused on the new iPhone 5.  Bill joked that the “personal assistant,” Siri, is now Romni.

·         If you tell Romni to call home, he responds, “which home, the summer home, the winter home, the lake home….?”

·         If you ask to find a pizza restaurant, Romni responds, “Buy it, load it up with debt, and sell it off.”

·         If you ask for Starbucks, Romni responds “Coffee is forbidden by Scriptures.”

·         If you ask what 15% of the restaurant bill is so you can leave a tip for the wait staff, Romni responds, “I’m not telling.”  If you persist, Romni starts to sing “Oh beautiful for spacious skies…”  

The special guest was Salmon Rushdie, the author who had to go into hiding because he was perceived to have insulted the prophet Mohammed. The mullahs had issued a fatwah calling for his death. He said his life was turned into something out of a spy novel. What’s worse, he said, “I don’t like spy novels.” 

This gave Bill his opening to talk about religion.  He said, “All religions are not alike. No. Islam is different.”  He was referring to the very militant attitude of Islam. My take on this is that present day Catholics will excommunicate you for heresy; but present day Muslims will kill you for it.

“New Rules” was very funny.  Bill ended the segment with a riff on “undecided voters.”  If you are an “undecided voter” it could be bad for your health to get in a room with Bill. He called the undecided ignorant and said “They just don’t give a shit.”  It’s clear he is sick and tired of watching these focus groups with undecideds. He said, “The dial should be hooked up to their foreheads to see if it can detect any brain activity.” He concluded with, “If I want to listen to a bunch of ignorant jackasses bullshitting about the election, I’ll watch Fox and Friends.” Toche! The-two-birds-with-one- stone moment of the week.

This was a very good episode. Watch it, learn something, and laugh.  Remember, laughter is the best medicine. When politics starts to make you feel sick, Bill Maher is the cure for what ails you.

This picture is from
Note:  No Bill Maher next week, 9/28/12, but the show is back the following week,10/5/12.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Showtime's Weeds "It's Time" Series Finale #812

Order Weeds DVD's
The title of Season 8 Episode 12 is “It’s Time.” Yes, it is time to say goodbye to the Botwins. I’m going to miss them. Since I always do this thing where I rename the episode, I rename this one, “It’s Time to Say Goodbye.

This was one of the best series finales I have ever seen for a TV series. Earlier in the season, I named one of the episodes “Happily Ever After.” As the season wore on, it looked like we were not going to get a “happily ever after,” but in episode 12, we did. Mostly.

The season began eight years after the point at which we left the Botwins a week ago.  Little Stevie is 13 years old now. The whole clan, including old friends, is getting together for Stevie’s bar mitzvah.

A lot has happened in the eight years. Andy left Nancy and moved back to California. (The consummation of his feelings for Nancy apparently broke the spell she had cast over him.) He had joined Nancy’s household to help her with her young sons after Nancy’s husband (Andy’s brother) died. However, the real reason he came to live with Nancy is that he was “lost.” In psycho-babble talk, “He needed to find himself.”  He was never going to do that until he got away from Nancy.

Andy now owns a restaurant in Ren Mar, California. It’s a small place--the kind where you come in and eat whatever the chef has chosen to make that night. He is not married, but he has a daughter that he co-parent’s with the girl’s mother, who is just a friend, not a lover. Andy has not spoken to Nancy since he left. But he stays in touch with Silas, his nephew, and that is how Nancy gets news about Andy. (Silas by the way, married Megan, and they now have a baby.)

After that that fateful encounter with Andy, Nancy married Rabbi Dave and converted to Judaism. Dave adopted Nancy’s son, Stevie. She now lives a quiet life as a suburban matron. Now that would be a “happily ever after” except she is a widow again. A car accident this time.

This is the black-widow moment of the show. Nancy has been married four times and every husband has died. Her first husband, Judah, died of a heart attack. Her second husband, the DEA agent Peter, died at the hands of drug dealers. Her third husband,   Mexican drug lord and politician, Esteban, was murdered in prison. Her last husband, Rabbi Dave, died in a car accident. Nancy is now using a match-making service to find dates (and maybe her fifth husband).

Despite being a widow again, Nancy is doing well. Marijuana has been legalized in most of the country, and she has a chain of 50 stores called “The Good Seed Marijuana Café.”  (Silas buys a pack of “Dragon Puffs” in a drug store. One small question: Is that the Botwin brand?  Also, Silas is a partner in Nancy’s business; he does the growing, so why would he buy his weed in a drug store? Just so we can see that it is being sold over-the counter and not just in medical marijuana dispensaries?)

Nancy has also improved her wardrobe. She used to where sexy shamta’s, skimpy dresses that came close to baring all. Now she dresses with a little more class. Still sexy, but classy sexy.

Doug is in seventh heaven, living as a very rich guru with female acolytes in constant attendance. Night and day, if you catch my drift. But Doug is a good guy at heart; his group helps the homeless.  

The tobacco company guy from South Carolina, Crick, reappears to tell Nancy that Starbucks wants to buy the business. Nancy owns 51% of the business, and refuses to sell. (The remaining 49% is apparently split between Silas, Conrad, Guillermo, Doug, and Crick. (One small question: How did Nancy wind up with 51% while the others have to split the 49%. Just so Nancy can refuse to sell?) But in the end, she goes along with her partners and agrees to sell. Nancy is now most likely out of the weed business for good.

Shane has not been doing too well. He’s a crooked cop, an alcoholic, and a womanizer—all no doubt thanks to his “mentor” Mitch. (One small question:  Shane is sporting a large bushy mustache. I thought police had to be clean shaven.  I’m guessing the purpose of the mustache is to make Shane look older and bit depraved.) But even here we have a “happily ever after” waiting in the wings--Nancy persuades him to go to rehab.

Stevie seems to be a well adjusted young man, but he has a moment of disequilibrium when Guillermo tells him the truth about his biological father. (Nancy had told him only that his father was a politician who died.) This leads to an identity crisis. “I don’t know who I am,” Stevie says. He’s being bar-mitzvahed, but he questions whether of not he is a Jew. “I’m not one of the chosen,” he says. “My father was Catholic, my mother was Methodist I don’t know what my religion is. It may turn out to be “No “God-ism.” Lucky for Nancy, kids are resilient. He’s having a good time at his party. At one point, he takes the microphone to give a little speech, and he announces that he loves his mother.

Stevie wants to go to boarding school where he can play soccer. Nancy doesn’t want him to go, but she finally relents. She realizes that for the first time in her life, she is going to be entirely alone.  Andy and Nancy have a final tête-à-tête. “Come back” she says, with tears in her voice.“Come back.” Andy gently tells her no. “I have a life I like.  I’m not leaving it.” Then Nancy says she will go to Ren Mar to live with him. Again, Andy says no. Nancy will have to move into the next stage of her life on her own. I have a feeling Nancy will be OK. She’s a very rich woman now with great business skills. I hope she starts a foundation.  

The final moment of the show starts with Nancy sitting on the porch steps in front of her house in a light snowfall. The music for this scene is “With Arms Outstretched." The lyrics are ”16 miles to the promised land and I promise you I’m doing the best I can.” One by one, Doug, Silas, Andy, and Shane come out of the house and sit silently with her as they pass around a joint. They sit stone-faced for a while, but soon smiles break out, even broad grins. See, it is happily ever after, after all.

Click Here to order the Rilo Kiley album with the song "With Arms Outstretched" which contains the lyrics "16 miles to the promised land."

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Real Time with Bill Maher #259 09/14/12

Bill Maher is a funny guy, his political humor is sharp, cutting, incisive, and right on the money.  If there was one dominant theme in this episode of Real Time, it was money.  Consequently, I am going to name this show “The Clinking Clanking Sound,” a line from the song from the show, Caberet. entitled “Money Makes the World Go Round.”
Bill got the theme rolling during his opening monologue.  He said if Mitt Romney asked for a moment of silence, he’d probably try to sell ad time during it.
Bill is a funny guy, and a good thing too, because not one of his guests said a funny thing during the whole show.  Nobody was even inadvertently funny because he/she said outrageous things. (I mean you, Republican guests.”)The guests were all intelligent, well-spoken, and pretty much dull.
John Legend was the guest for the interview. He was described as a musician/activist.  He spoke about music, voter suppression, and the need to improve education.
The panel included Chris Hayes, MSNBC anchor and author of Twilight of the Elites. I was glad to see Chris on the panel because he is a super wonk. If anybody started making false claims, he’d be there to slap them down with the facts. Then I could cheer from my perch on the couch, “Go, Chris, Go!”  But nobody said anything outrageous.
Zanny Milton Bedoes is the economic editor of “The Economist.”  She had the economy beat in this show.  She said that if the grown-ups (by which she meant reasonable people) would just have a conversation, they would reach agreement. Good comment, but tell me Zanny, where do we find a reasonable Republicans to have this conversation with.
She also said that taxes in the U.S. are the lowest since the 1950’s. She added Republicans don’t care about debt reduction; they just want lower taxes. I cheered from my couch, “Go, Zanny, Go!”
And last, and yes, least, we had John Ferhery, a former aide to the former Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert.  (Didn’t he leave congress in disgrace?  He did. I just googled him. His crimes involved financially profiting from his acts in Congress.  He resigned midterm and became a lobbyist.  One might argue he was a lobbyist the whole time he was in office.)  John, your association with Hassert is not exactly something  to be proud of. Perhaps that is why he prefers to describe himself as a full-time pundit.
During overtime John was asked to compare Sarah Palin’s VP acceptance speech to Paul Ryan’s VP acceptance speech. What he didn’t say said more that what he did say.  He never mentioned Ryan. He said Palin gave a great speech four years ago and fact checkers found her speech to be mostly true. Ouch, Ryan, that gotta hurt. And from your own team, no less. 
John added that if Palin were serious about politics she would never have quit the governorship of Alaska midterm. She’s no longer a contender for any political office. She is just a pundit.
The final guest of the evening was Bob Costas, the sports announcer who was one of the main hosts of the Olympics. He famously asked Jerry Sandusky, if he was attracted to young boys during an interview.  Sandusky fumbled his answer badly.  Bill asked him if he were to interview Obama and Romney, would that be his first question to them also.  And that is a good example of the sharp Maher wit. 
Costa said that Romney’s interview with David Gregory on Meet the press (9/9/12) put him in Palin territory. (That was not meant as a compliment.) He was referring to Palin’s ability to talk and talk and say absolutely nothing.  He’s right about that. “Go, Bob, Go!" 
The topic turned to 9/11.  We just observed the 11th anniversary of 9/11. Bill said he objected to the way Jeb Bush, at the Republican National Convention, one of the few to even mention old W’s name, said “He kept us safe.”  Bill adds, “except for that one time.”  That’s exactly what I yell at the TV every time I hear that Bush kept us safe.  "Go, Bill, Go!" 
(Note to Bill:  It was more than that one time. Remember the anthrax attacks. Plus there were a few others that I can’t remember right now.) 
Bill said that if Al Gore had been president the Republicans would have shouted from the rooftops that Gore got us killed. There would have been no uniting behind the president. 
(Note to Bill:  If Al Gore had been president there would not have been a 9/11. The Clinton administration had foiled a few other attempted attacks. Further ,the Clinton/ Gore team had a plan to go after Al Qaeda. Bush ignored this plan when he came into office and did absolutely nothing, despite increasingly ”hair on fire” briefings by the CIA. Call me a “truther” if you want, but I believe W wanted the attacks to happen. I’m not saying he planned them, but he let them happen. I think he may have expected only a simple hijacking; I heard him say as much in an interview right after 9/11. He needed to shore up his popularity after stealing the election, and he needed an excuse to invade Iraq.)
Back to money.  In “New Rules” Bill says America’s favorite show is “Money Boo Boo."  He said the Democrats were right to leave God out of the platform, “It was a platform, not a spell.” Next he reported that Romney said he would never take “God” off our coins.  “No one is proposing to take God off our coins.”  He added that maybe Romney should say “I will not staple a silver dollar on my forehead,” or , and here is the-it's-going-to-get-vulgar moment of the week,“I will not shove a roll of dimes up my ass.” No one is proposing either of those actions either, although, now that he mentioned it ….
Bill talked about how Jesus kicked the money lenders out of the temple. And here is the it's- going-to-get-even-more-vulgar moment of the week: “He would have gone ape-shit on Bain.” He added that Romney doesn’t get his opinions about money from the New Testament, he gets them from the Cayman Islands. "Go, Bill, go!"
Bill said, “Our God is money. He concluded by saying that “free is the first part of freedom and the other part is “dumb.”
This picture from

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Showtime Weeds "God Willing and the Creek Don't Rise"

Ah, home sweet home! The Botwins are back in Agrestic (now reincarnated as Regrestic) where it all started. The opening credit’s visuals have reverted to scenes of Agrestic.  (It looks just the way it did when we first met the Botwins.)  And the Ticky-Tacky song is being sung sweetly. It's episode 11 or Season 8 entitled "God Willing and the Creek Don't Rise."  

It’s “Old Home Week” in Agrestic/Regrestic.  So many of the characters we once knew and loved are back in the picture.  Some are important to the plot, some are just cameos. So, while I love the actual name of this episode, I’m going to rename it “Everything Old is New Again.”

Nancy reconnects with Conrad. They talk about old times and new times and high times.  Nancy has a plan to grow medical marijuana and she wants Conrad back in the game with her. Conrad has reformed; he’s getting married, he wants no part of it.  Nancy is persistent. She meets up with Conrad at a dance studio where he is taking dance lessons for his wedding. (Don’t couples usually do the dance-lesson thing together—why is Conrad dancing with Nancy?  Perhaps the producers just wanted us to see them cheek to cheek again.)  Nancy continues to try to persuade him to join her venture; Conrad still refuses.

Andy reconnects with Yael, who works at a Hebrew school. They were an item for a season, and Andy has decided that she is the only girl in the world for him.  She doesn’t remember him. That is the “you-sure-know-how-to-hurt-a-guy” moment of the week.  And, indeed, Andy is hurt.  Andy is screaming his angst from the rooftops. “We are dying meat.” We are utterly alone.”  "There is no plan … but a slow certain decomposition."  A soliloquy to rival Hamlet’s.

Silas reconnects with his high school sweetheart, “the deaf girl,” Megan. He had gotten her pregnant (he now confesses that he did it deliberately) and her parents sent Megan way. Silas tells Megan that she is the only girl her has ever loved. It turns out Megan still loves him too, so all is good between Silas and Megan.  (But don’t get too comfortable, next week’s show is an hour long, and who knows what plot twists await us.)

Meanwhile, back in Connecticut, Shane is busted by internal affairs for joy-riding in an impounded car. The agents tell Shane he can go to prison or he can rat out his mentor, Mitch. Shane denounces Mitch to the agents, and it looks like he is about to give state’s evidence.  But, he then denounces the agents too, refuses to give any evidence, and slams his badge on the table. Whereupon Mitch enters the room, and he and all the agents have a good laugh. The “agents” were imposters and Mitch was only testing Shane’s loyalty.  Mitch is slapping Shane on the back, Shane takes his badge back—being a policemen is really important to him, but is he just going to laugh off this “practical joke”?

Doug has decided to get out of the homeless shelter business. He decides that the religion business can be much more lucrative. His first disciples are his tribe of the homeless. Their sacrament is weed. Doug always has a new scheme.

Nancy is determined to move ahead with her business plan to grow medical marijuana.  She has purchased five acres of land near Agrestic. However, her old nemesis, Guillermo, who came this close to killing her in a previous season, has claimed Agrestic as his territory. Nancy will have to enlist him before proceeding. Conrad tries to warn her off, but Nancy is nothing if not a risk taker. She finds Guillermo in a park having at a birthday party for his daughter. Guillermo is not in a forgiving mood, and he pulls a gun on Nancy. Conrad arrives in the nick of time; he has a gun of his own, and we have one of those three-way gun showdowns. Conrad tells Nancy he’s in, and Guillermo is persuaded by the promise of riches, along with respectability, to join forces with them.

Later Conrad and Nancy are at Conrad’s wedding reception discussing their new business venture. Nancy is anticipating success, “God willing and the creek don’t rise,” she says. Conrad responds “The creek, she always rises.” This is the ”life-has-taught-me-to be-a-fatalist, pessimistic- cynic” moment of the week.

Shane is all lovey-dovey with Megan. Andy is there too, drowning his sorrows. Nancy asks Andy to leave with her, and she takes him to the suburban street where Judah, Nancy’s husband, died of a heart attack while out on a run. As they stand in front of a house on this quiet street, Andy tells her he’s got to move on, but Nancy begs him to stay. It’s an emotional scene that ends with some passionate splendor in the grass. 

Will Nancy and Andy finally be a couple? (It’s so Biblical when the dead husband ‘s brother marries the widow.) I don’t think so. After their moment of passion, Andy, more confused and distraught than ever, leaves Nancy in the grass and runs away. Now it is Nancy who is distraught as her cries of “Andy, Andy” are ignored.

The season finale is next Sunday. One whole hour to wrap everything up.  How do you think they will end up? 

This picture of Nancy with Guillermo is from

Monday, September 10, 2012

Web Therapy “Electile Dysfunction” Episode 211

“Electile Dysfunction” is a very clever and appropriate name for the season finale (Season 2 Episode 11) of “Web Therapy.” However, since I always like to rename the episodes in my reviews, I’ll name this one “The Worm Turns.” Fiona pretty much always gets her way, and this episode begins true to form, but by the end, Fiona is so battered that I almost feel sorry for her. I’d probably feel sorrier if I wasn’t laughing so much.

The episode opens with Fiona and a much calmer Newell. During the course of their conversation, we learn several things. Fiona has referred Newell to another therapist. Newell loves his new therapist; I mean really loves his new therapist. He has transferred his lustful fantasies onto the new therapist. Spoiler Alert: Fiona slowly reveals to Newell that the new therapist is Shevan, Fiona’s sister. Then bit by bit, she suggests that it was Shevan that he spied in the bedroom with his father. This is the two-birds-with-one stone moment of the week. She has struck out at Newell—he becomes very agitated again. She has struck out at Shevan, destroying her therapeutic relationship with Newell.

So far, so good for Fiona, but the people whom Fiona has treated like worms begin to turn on her. Fiona is angry with Robin because her old flame Richard is in love with her. (It is hard to see why Richard is in love with Robin, because she has nothing but withering insults for him) Robin announces that she has video tapes of Kip and Ben in “compromising positions.” She attempts blackmail and Fiona fires her.

Naturally, Robin releases the tapes, and Kip is forced to announce that he is suspending his campaign. Fiona must stand with him as he announces his love for Ben Just as in real life, the wife must always stand with her husband and be publically humiliated by the sex scandal.) Fiona stands slightly behind her husband—perhaps that is her little rebellion. I’d say she had a pained smile on her face, but with Fiona that is pretty much how she always looks. Fiona has lost this round.

In the next scene, Fiona’s assistant, Jerome, and his wife, Haley, announce that they have had a meeting with Lifetime, and the network plans to film Fiona’s autobiography as a musical. They describe some of the songs. The lyrics are totally derogatory. This will be a public humiliation for Fiona.

Wait it gets worse. Jerome is going to quit working for Fiona to devote his time to working for Dr. Hodge. We know Dr. Hodge as Fiona’s mother, Putsy. He will be helping Putsy set up her new business, “Net Therapy,” the business Fiona forbade her mother to start. Fiona is very upset to hear this news. Her mother has bested her again.

But it gets worse. Haley will be Jerome’s replacement working for Fiona. Fiona and Haley have a history. Fiona tried to stop Jerome from marrying her by hiding knives and razor blades in Haley’s carry-on bag so airport security would arrest her. And they did. And Haley is unforgiving.

No matter, Fiona reassures herself. She still has Austen. She calls Austen to tell him that Kip has left her, and now they can be together. Austen looks very uncomfortable, and then we find out why. Gina comes into the frame, sits on Austen’s lap, and announces that she is pregnant. Fiona is shocked and looks devastated.

Kip’s announcement of his decision to end his campaign has become a YouTube sensation, with over a million hits. His words have been auto-tuned. The video has been edited to make Kip and Fiona look ridiculous. Pictures have been spliced in. For instance, Kip is shown singing “I like it long and hard” and a picture of sausages on a grill comes up. (Perhaps, before the editing Kip had said, “I’ve worked long and hard.”)

At the end of the show, instead of the usual out-takes (as funny as the show itself), the YouTube video plays over and over. I found that the repetition made it funnier and funnier.

It was a great way to end the season—with Fiona’s comeuppance. But I am not worried by this turn of events. I expect Fiona will rebound back to her old self next season. After all, the show wouldn’t be any fun if Fiona wasn’t a manipulating bitch who crushes everyone who crosses her.

This picture from

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Real Time with Bill Maher #258 09/07/12

Real Time with Bill Maher #258 (airing September 7, 2012) was one of those rare Real Time episodes that just didn’t gel. Bill’s opening monologue was weak, the guests were dull, his comedy bit that comes during the middle of the show didn’t really work, and even the highlight of the show for me, the “New Rules” segment was only so-so. I’m going to name this episode “Treading Water” because it could barely stay afloat.

One of the best lines from the opening monologue was Bill’s comparison of the Republican National Convention to “a seminar to flip real-estate for Jesus.” Another good line was when he said, referencing Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention and Republican’s complaints about having an ex-president appear, “not every party has an ex-president who can talk.” Yes, they were clever put-downs, but rather weak as far as Bill’s zingers go. 

You know the show is not up to par when the best segment is Bill’s interview with Christine O’Donnell, the former ditzy U. S. Senate candidate from Delaware. You know, the one who said “I am not a witch.”  (By the way, although Republican’s are all about personal responsibility, she blamed her advisors for that ad.)

Christine livened up the show because everything she says is so bizarre that she is inadvertently funny.  Her lies and off-the-wall statements come so fast it is like a batting machine pitching balls at warp speed.  Bill just couldn’t keep up.

Some examples:
Christine repeats the Republican talking point that Obama could have done everything he wanted during his first two years because the Dems had majorities in the House and Senate.  Wrong!  The House did pass bills for everything on the liberal agenda, and then the bills died in the Senate because the Republicans filibustered them. The Democrats had 50+ votes, but nothing could be passed because the filibuster requires 60 votes.

Christine then went on to prattle about economic theory, evidently under the mistaken impression that she is an economics professor instead of a nitwit who probably can’t even balance her checkbook. Her words came so fast and furious, Bill didn’t know what to swing at first. She didn’t wait for a response; she just kept up a barrage of verbiage. She has evidently learned that if she gives someone a chance to respond, she is going to be shot down.  

On ‘Overtime”, an online discussion after the TV show, she got even worse. The other panelists were practically crying due to the futility of trying to talk sense to her. Christine got a viewer question about why Republicans who want small government are mandating medical procedures for women (e.g. medically unnecessary ultrasounds for women seeking an abortion that the woman must pay for). Christine denied that there were mandates (Wrong). She said it was wrong for the federal government to infringe on a woman’s rights, but OK if the states did it (What!). She said abortion is a risky procedure. (Blatant lie—it is safer than carrying a pregnancy to term if done by a doctor in a medical setting.) She compared the mandates to requiring certification for heart surgeons. (Spurious analogy, abortion doctors are certified and there are no laws mandating that people have to have pace-makers whether they want them or not.)  She just kept moving from one outrageous statement to the next, so fast no one had time to get a word in edgewise. 

Then she announced that churches in New Jersey lost their tax exempt status because they wouldn’t perform gay marriage (Outrageous lie—New Jersey doesn’t even have a gay marriage law—the legislature passed it, but Governor Christie vetoed it. Further, not a single church in the country has lost their tax exempt status for this reason; no one has even suggested telling churches who they must marry or how to perform their ceremonies.)

I’ve gone on at great length because Christine needs refutation, and Bill and his panel just couldn’t manage it.

There was a big “ick” moment-of-the-week during Bill’s interview with Christine.  Bill at one point told Christine that she should have sex with him “right here right now.” Not funny, Bill. Really icky, Bill. Now I understand why Christine didn’t want to go on Bill’s show during her Senate campaign. She was probably tired of being propositioned by him. This suggestion put an image in my head that made me want to bleach my eyeballs.

The panel was bland on bland. 

Katerina vanden Heuval, the editor of The Nation is earnest and erudite, but has no excitement, unless you find wonkiness exciting.

Jim Vanderhai, co-founder and executive editor of Politico, is a soft-spoken nice guy. He denied that Politico has a conservative bias, describing it as middle-of-the-road, yet every comment he made supported Republicans and conservatives. He defended himself against the charge of political bias, by saying that Fox News said he had a liberal bias.  Right, Fox News also claims to be fair and balanced.  But I guess, to Fox News anyone who is not a raving right-wing radical is a liberal.

Steve Schmidt, a Republican strategist and former head of the McCain campaign, is having an identity crisis. He looks pained having to defend Republican positions; he pretty much doesn’t even try anymore. (I see him on MSNBC all the time looking just as pained and just as unable to defend the indefensible positions of the Republicans.)

The special guest, David Simon, executive producer/writer of the HBO shows, The Wire and Treme, appeared to be a really smart guy whose heart is in the right place, but he is just not a quip-master. He’s too thoughtful.
Bill did a mid-show bit about the “The Dueling First Ladies”, each trying to out-poor the other.  “When hubby and I were young we were so poor that ….”  Nice concept, but it just didn’t make me laugh that much. I think Bill was rushing it a bit, and that may have muted the impact.  

Here’s a bit I really liked. Bill gave a shout-out to Michelle Obama. He said, she had “a shiv in a velvet glove.” When she said “Obama doesn’t judge success by money”, she hit an artery. I noticed it immediately as she said it, but the talking heads didn’t say a word about it that night. However, they were all over it the next day and pointed out a few other knife strikes that I had missed. One pundit said, “She cut Romney to ribbons, and you never even saw the knife.” Way to go, Michelle! 

Even New Rules fell a little flat. But Bill did get in a few slashes with his own shiv in the final rule talking about how rich Republicans think they got rich all by themselves, ignoring the fact that they had a little luck going for them just because of the family they were born into. Then he did a “rich kid/poor kid” bit imagining how Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump would have fared if they had been born into a poor family.
Spoiler Alert: Here are the punch lines. Ryan ends up a bouncer at Chili’s, Romney ends up a greeter at Staples, G. W. Bush ends up a skid-row drunk, Trump ends up as a mop-pusher at a fried chicken joint and his signature line is “you’re fried”.  (“You’re fried”—that was funny!)

This episode won’t go down as one of Bill’s best, but he kept his head above water and  the guests paddled the roiling waters proficiently making some good points. But no one made any really big waves.
This picture from abc news.
Christine O’Donnell dominated the show.  First Lady Michelle Obama was mentioned only briefly, but I’d rather look at a picture of Michelle, wouldn’t you.