Tuesday, January 29, 2013

HBO Enlightened “Higher Power” #13 Levi's Turn

by Catherine Giordano

HBO’s “Enlightened” Season 2, episode 3, was mostly all about Levi (played by Luke Wilson), Amy’s ex-husband.  I’m glad to see more of Levi, and take a break from Amy (played by Laura Dern.). She’s exhausting. In the January 27, 2013 episode entitled “Higher Power, it is Levi’s turn to star as his life takes a few twists and turns.

Amy went to rehab in Hawaii at a facility called “Open Air” after her nervous breakdown.  Levi has bottomed out on alcohol and drugs, and now it is his turn to have a stint at Open Air. Amy helped get him a place there at the end of last season.

Unlike Amy, who found the Open Air philosophy so moving and exciting, Levi calls it “cheesy.” He thinks everyone there, staff and “inmates” alike, are pathetic. (I say inmates, but the rehab residents actually have quite a bit of freedom. The place seems to work on the honor system—no one is locked in.)  Levi scoffs at the notion of a Higher Power—he says that “God is a beer on the beach.” He’s dismissive of the group therapy sessions, and he won’t co-operate in private sessions either.

Levi finds a few kindred spirits in Danielle and Travis. Danielle is young, blond, and sexy. Travis is just a stoner. Danielle and Travis have planned to slip out at night to check out the night life at a hotel down the beach. They persuade Levi to go with them.

Open Air is a place to focus on sobriety. The hotel is definitely not a place for sobriety. In short order, they are all drinking, and snorting, and carousing. Danielle gets Levi into a bathroom for a quickie. Then Danielle casts her net further afield and snags a lonely 50-something man who is a guest at the hotel. The man is a lonely lost soul type of person too eager for the company of these three young people, especially Danielle. All three of them go to the man’s room to continue to party.   

They all pass out in the room. In the morning, Danielle goes off with the man, her potential sugar-daddy, and Travis is too hung over to leave the bed. Levi returns to the hotel alone. The night has been a turning point for him. He’s now ready to get with the program. Danielle and Travis, however, are sure to be kicked out, if they even return to Open Air.

Levi is moved that his roommate at Open Air has covered for him, saying that Levi left for a walk on the beach in the morning and not the previous night.  Levi is touched by this kindness because he has been dismissive and insulting to his roommate. (In Levi’s defense, the roommate is a bit of a submissive overweight shlub who seems to have no interests except farting and talking about his bowl movements.) Levi apologizes to his roommate. He says, “You don’t have a problem. I have a problem. Fart all you want.” We all know that recognition that you have a problem is the first step to dealing with the problem..

Levi is also coming to realize that he loves Amy. Levi talked with Danielle about Amy, referring to her as his ex, and a do-gooder. Danielle called Amy a bitch. Levi objected, saying that Amy was not a bitch. Danielle asked if he was still in love with Amy. “Some,” he replied. (Amy, had she been asked, would most likely have said the same.)

When Amy was at Open Air, she saw a sea turtle and this turtle became a kind of totem for her. In his first letter to Amy, Levi writes that he has been looking for her turtle.  He tells all that all he has found is garbage. He writes, “Your turtle, if it ever existed, is gone.”  At the end of the episode he writes Amy another letter.  He says he goes out everyday looking for her turtle. He adds, “Even if I don’t find it, I know you did.”

In this second letter, he is recognizing his love for Amy. He tells her that during the meditation exercises everyone is asked to remember their best self.  This makes him think of Amy. “You thought I was great. Maybe you are my Higher Power.”  This is the true-love-never-dies” moment of the week.

Levi writes that he hasn’t “drunk the Kool-Aid yet”, but I’m still here.” We can see that his life is starting to turn around.

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Amy's ex, Levi, played by Luke Wilson

Monday, January 28, 2013

HBO Real Time with Bill Maher Bill #269 "Forward"

I’m naming episode #269 of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher that aired on January 25, 2013 “Forward.”  It was president Obama’s campaign slogan, and it was the theme of the show. The election is over; now it is time to move forward with the president’s agenda.

The interview was with Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic Leader. Bill described her as a co-speaker because John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the house, can’t pass legislation despite a 25-seat advantage without Nancy rounding up a majority of Democratic votes. Bill pointed out that Pelosi should actually be the speaker because over one million more Americans voted for Democratic candidates that Republican candidates. The Republicans only retained the majority because of gerrymandered districts.

Pelosi began by praising Obama’s inauguration speech. I agree. I was a powerful and poetic speech. He spoke about America’s ideals and joined them with his goals for his second term. In the monologue Bill pointed out that Republicans hated the speech and that they would have hated it no matter what he had said. I agree. Obama could have given Reagan’s speech word-for-word, and Republicans would have hated it because the words came from Obama’s mouth.

One of the guests was David Avella, the president of GOPAC, a fundraising organization of Republicans.  He represents the typical Republican—always twisting the truth and blaming Democrats for every nasty thing that the Republicans do. He began by accusing Obama of name-calling after saying he was against name calling.  Bill called him out. “What names did he call Republicans?” David tried to wriggle away, but Bill insisted he answer. It turns out Obama called Republican’s “right-wing.” Excuse me for laughing, but Republicans call themselves right wing. 

Republicans are calling themselves names. In his monologue, Bill mentioned that Bobby Jindal, Republican governor of Louisiana, called Republicans “the stupid party.”  Bill then joked that Sarah Palin demanded an apology for “the insult to idiotic Americans like me.” I just heard that Palin will no longer be on Fox News. Perhaps even the far far right is catching on to how idiotic she is.

Later Avella says Obama did not create new jobs-- an out-and-out howler of a lie.  There were 5 to 6 million more jobs in this country at the end of Obama’s first term than when he came into office.  If the number of jobs is not at an all-time high it is because G.W. Bush lost us so many jobs that we are still catching up.

During Overtime Avella was at it again. He said that Obama raised taxes on everyone. Not true. In the new tax bill, the payroll- tax-holiday instituted by Obama was not continued.  Obama wanted to continue it, but he couldn’t get the Republicans to vote for it. (Also, I want to point out that the Bush tax cuts for middle and lower income people were put into the law by Democrats. The Republicans only proposed tax cuts for the upper income group. Everyone always seems to forget that.)

I’d have a lot more respect for Republicans if they could defend their positions without lying. I want to ask them, “If your ideas are so good, why do you always have to lie about them?  Why can’t you convince Americans to support them with the truth?”

Going back to Pelosi, she spoke about the “over-the-edge crowd”, the new tea-party anti-government Republicans. She said that she tells her Republican friends to “take back your party.”

Bill mentioned that Pelosi had never been on the cover of a major news magazine. Nancy was the first woman Speaker of the House, but that achievement did not get her a cover. However, John Boehner got a cover. She was also one of the most effective speakers in modern history, but still no cover. It’s still a tough world for women.

The other two panelists were Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, and Kristen Soltis, a Republican strategist and pollster.  Howard added a lot to the show—he gave facts, erudite opinions, and wit in equal measure. Kristen might as well have stayed home. She had nothing much to add to the conversation. She wasn’t strident like some of Bill’s Republican guests, just bland as she repeated Republican talking points every now and then.

Howard got some well-deserved credit for being governor when Vermont led the nation by offering universal health care and recognizing civil unions. Dean called out Avella for asserting that both parties had their crazies. “False equivalency,.” he proclaimed.  “You have 49% crack-pots, we only have 10%.” Howard also said that Republicans are “undermining democracy. “ They can’t win so they have to fix elections, first with voter suppression, and now by trying to change how the electoral college works. I agree.  How low will they go?

Talking about undermining democracy, I’m surprised no one mentioned the filibuster.  Harry Reid was so timid ,making only tiny changes around the edge. He seemed to feel that he needed Mitch McConnell’s approval. His stated reason for not making broader reforms is that one day Democrats might be in the minority again and in need of the filibuster.  Is Reid that naïve? The moment the Republicans gain the majority, the filibuster will be gone. They threatened to do it when they were last in power, only backing off because Reid promised that Democrats would not use the filibuster.  Next time they will abolish it in a “hot New York minute.” 

The special guest was John Testa, Democratic senator from Montana. He is one savvy man. He’s from a conservative state, but his liberal positions don’t hurt him there. I can see why. He speaks eloquently and with passion about defending family farms, protecting Americans with regulatory oversight, allowing women in serve in combat, and empowering women to make their own decisions about abortion.

The comedy bits were a little weak this week. However, I did love it when Bill mentioned Tom Tancredo in his opening monologue.  He said that Tancredo lost a bet about Colorado legalizing marijuana. Since the referendum legalizing marijuana passed, Tancredo will have to pay-up by sucking on a joint. Bill said, “I hope he loses a bet on gay marriage.”  That was the first “bringing the zinger” moment of the week.

The mid-show comedy bit was about the Chinese censorship going way to far—they are cutting scenes from American movies when they are shown in China, sometimes cutting away 30 minutes or more. So Bill came up with some posters for the movies when they are shown in China. The only one that made me laugh was “All Dogs Come with Noodles.”  (I’m guessing this was a play on “All Dogs Go To Heaven.”)

“New Rules” featured a riff on manhood named “Guns and Poses.”  It ended with the line, “the older they get, the bigger their guns get” as he showed two posters for Arnold Schwarzenegger where the later movie showed him holding something that looked like a hand-held cannon. He brings up Zell Miller’s quote: I have more guns than I need, but not as many as I want.”  (Zell Miller is a turn-coat Democrat who served as governor of Georgia and who served a partial term in the Senate, most famous for challenging MSNBC political commentator. Chris Hayes, to a duel.)

In the discussion of this rule, Bill spoofs the ads for “Low T,” saying that men who need a pill to get a boner, now need a pill just to get in the mood.  He talks about Manti Te’O (the football player with the imaginary girlfriend) .and asks, “Why was this jerk such a hero to so many guys.” He goes on, asking why men idolize 20-year old ball-players, action stars who solve problems with violence, tough guys who start wars for no reason (he shows a picture of G.W. Bush looking tough), and generals who conquer countries with third rate rag-tag armies?) Bill concludes with the second “bringing the zinger” moment of the week, he asks. “Is it because the most masculine thing they do all day is pee standing up?”

Obama and Nancy Pelosi are bringing this country forward, Dean and Testa are bring the discussion about national issues forward, and Bill Maher is bringing political and social comedy forward.

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At least,  Ms Magazine recognized Pelosi.

Monday, January 21, 2013

HBO “Enlightened”“Revenge Play” #12 Mission Creep

by Catherine Giordano

Amy Jellicoe is on a mission, but like many military missions, the original mission can get lost as reactions to “action on the ground” goes in unexpected directions. In the second episode of Season 2, entitled “Revenge Play” we see how actions and reactions can turn good intentions into evil consequences.  Hence, my title for this review, “Mission Creep.”

Amy has enlisted her friend Tyler’s help in her mission to bring Abaddon down. They both meet with a journalist, Jeff, who urges them to help him get proof of Abaddon’s pay-offs to derail a congressional investigation into their environmental crimes.

Amy will tell you that she is doing this to save the earth and punish those who despoil the environment—how very noble, but perhaps she is doing it for more personal reasons. Abaddon has treated her badly and she is out for revenge.

Amy and Tyler meet with Jeff in a jazz bar where most of the patron’s are black. The people in the bar give her dirty looks and shush her when her loud conversation interferes with their enjoyment of the music. Later Amy has a dream (or fantasy)—the bar patrons are transformed into people you might see at a meeting of the Black Panthers. Amy marches into Abaddon with them. The CEO of Abaddon is strong armed out the door by a couple of burly “Panthers” as Amy looks on and smiles with pleasure.

The dream takes an upsetting turn however, when Amy sees the people she used to work with (former friends) removed from the building in handcuffs. She is especially upset when Krista, a young pregnant woman who was her best friend, implores her for mercy.  

Later, in real life, Amy sees Krista taken away by ambulance.  Krista is hospitalized due to complications of her pregnancy. Amy feels guilty and wonders if her bad thoughts could have caused bad things to happen to Krista. Do we see delusions of grandeur here—Amy is actually powerless, but she feels that her thoughts can magically cause bad things to happen.

Her concerns do not deter her from forcing herself on Krista while Krista is confined to her hospital bed and cannot escape from Amy.  Amy begins by apologizing for past wrongs. Krista tells her it is all OK and there is no need to discuss it. Krista adds that she must not have any stress as her condition is quite delicate. Amy gushes sincerity and nods yes, and then relaunches right into her “apology” determined to say what she came to say no matter what. Is she apologizing or exactly revenge?

Tyler obtains much more exacting revenge. Omar, one of the basement crew at Abaddon, corners Amy and Andy in the break room where they are meeting to hatch strategy. He wants to know what is going on between Amy and Andy. Amy makes up a story about Andy helping her develop a website to sell needlework.

Omar buys the story, but then utters the words that result in his downfall. He says he thought Amy and Andy were having an affair, but he couldn’t believe it.  Amy is tall and beautiful, he says, and Andy is a short albino loser.

IT at Abaddon has discovered that someone has hacked emails, and they are searching all computers to find out who did it. Amy is afraid she will be discovered. Andy takes her aside and says not to worry. He sneaked in the previous night and switched Amy’s hard drive into someone else computer. Just then a ruckus breaks out. Omar is accused and reacts angrily as security escorts him out.

Amy feels great guilt, but does nothing. Andy has the same triumphant expression on his face that Amy had during her fantasy. This is the “revenge-is-sweet” moment of the week. Andy says it was a twofer. Omar was suspicious of them and might have eventually found out what they were up to. But now, Tyler has removed the threat, gotten revenge for Omar’s insult, and protected Amy by removing the incriminating hard-drive from her computer. So actually a three-fer.  

Amy began her mission to take Abaddon down, but now the mission has expanded as she and Tyler have to protect themselves from discovery. Amy also has a second mission—to regain Krista’s friendship. I think this will turn out badly for Krista.

This picture is from hbo.com 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher #268 "Easy Marks"

By Catherine Giordano

Bill Maher is back on HBO with “Real Time with Bill Maher”, but the show felt a little lame this week.  Was Bill (and staff) just a bit rusty from their eight week break, were the guests a bit lackluster, or is it because that now that the election is over Bill just doesn’t have as much to work with? 

I’ve titled this review “Easy Marks” because a lot of politicians and celebrities being hoist upon his rapier are just easy marks.  Making fun of them is just too easy.

In the opening monologue, Bill said John Boehner refers to next Monday, the day of President Obama’s inauguration for a second term, as “Black Monday.”

Also in the monologue, Bill mentioned that former Republican presidential candidate (and current governor of Texas) Rick Perry, said the real answer to school shootings is prayer. Bill skewered him by saying he would pay money to see Perry defend himself against a school-shooter with prayer. Then he added, “Who am I kidding—Perry in a school?” It was funny, but ever since Perry humiliated himself by amorously caressing a bottle of maple syrup, he’s just too easy a mark.

Mark Sanford, the former governor of South Carolina who became famous for giving new meaning to “hiking the Appalachian Trail” is planning to run for Congress.  He was the butt of the mid-show comedy segment—Bill had some campaign slogans for him such as, “More tail and less fat” and referring to Arnold Swartzeneggar (another easy target) “At least it wasn’t the maid.” (That was a twofer.)

Manti Te’O, who is looking a bit pathetic these days, is another easy mark who got a drubbing last night. He was a Notre Dame football player up for the Heisman trophy who claimed that his internet girlfriend, whom he had never met in person, had died. It was a hoax, but it is unclear if Te’O was the victim or the perpetuator of the hoax (or maybe both).

Bill commented that the United States is in love with torture. “The first 45 minutes of Zero Dark Thirty was all torture, the same with The Hobbit.” He pointed out that Ben Affleck, Claire Daines, and Jessica Chastain all won Global Globes awards for playing CIA officers. Then he took aim at Sarah Palin, an easy mark, and said Julianne Moore won for Game Change because Sarah Palin is a master CIA officer.

Bill picked on the easiest mark of them all, Glenn Beck. It seems Beck wants to build his own town for his followers. Bill said that Real Time has a segment about Republicans being in a metaphoric bubble, but now Beck wants to live in an actual bubble. [This would make for a great horror movie—a town where everyone was like Glenn Beck—maybe we could call it “The Horror at Becktown.”]

The interview was with Bob Kerry, a Democrat, and the former governor and senator from Nebraska. Bill teased him about being confused “with the senator married to the ketchup lady (referring to John Kerry married to Teresa Heinz). Kerry sheepishly admitted that it sometimes happens. 

The rest of the interview was serious. Bill commented on the fact that Bob Kerry is a Vietnam vet, as is John Kerry, Obama’s pick for Secretary of State, and Chuck Hegel, Obama’s pick for Secretary of Defense. They discussed how it was good to have veterans in these positions because they understood the real consequences of war, unlike McCain who always wants a war going. McCain opposes Hegel because Hegel will likely mess with McCain’s plans for war with Iran.

One of the panelists was Martin Short, the comedian and actor. He is liberal, intelligent and can usually be counted on for a few witty, but scathing, remarks. His liberal and intelligent views were on display during the show, but the wit—not so much.  

The other two panelists were Republicans, Michelle Caruso-Cabera, a CNBC correspondent, and Steve LaTourette, a former Republican congressman from Ohio who is currently--what else?--a lobbyist.  Both were well well-behaved and made reasonable comments—something we don’t see too often with Republicans on Bill’s panel.

Caruso-Cabera is more a libertarian than Republican. She favors conservative fiscal policy and small government, but feels that government should not intervene on social issues.  Un-fortunately for her, she became the star of the “the-egg-on-your-face“ moment of the week. During the discussion on torture, she said that if you knew you could save lives, it would be right to use torture. She looked stunned when everyone turned on her, including LaTourette, forcefully condemning her statement. 

The special guest was Rula Jebreal, a contributor to Newsweek and the Daily Beast, a novelist, and screenwriter. She made intelligent and insightful comments, and she was passionate about her opinions. Very passionate--but she managed to do it in a charming way.  Jebreal  is a Palestinian, and she educated the panel, and me (and probably you) about the Israeli—Palestinian conflict.. When Caruso-Cabera tried to score points and call Al Gore a hypocrite for selling his TV network, Current, to Al Jezeera (a favorite talking point lately among right wingers), Jebreal sprang to the defense of, not Al Gore but, Al Jezeera. She said that Americans misrepresent Al Jezera--without Al Jezera there would have been no “Arab Spring.”

Martin Short made some good points during the discussion about guns in America.  He pointed out that Canada, where he is from, has only 24% gun ownership, and a fraction of the rate of gun deaths compared to America.  When Bill scoffed at the idea that we would get any change in gun laws here in America, Short compared it to cigarettes. They were once ubiquitous, but first attitudes changed, and then laws changed. We have to begin somewhere.

I think Short has a good point. Once cigarette smoking was everywhere, now smokers have to take the walk of shame out to the alley if they want to smoke.  Maybe one day, no one will want to belong to the NRA and gun ownership will be a shameful secret.

Speaking about gun control, all I hear from right-wing gun nuts is that the 2nd amendment is to protect citizens from the tyranny of the government. Stephen Colbert had a great line about that on his show the other night.  He said that the writers of the Constitution, like all constitutional writers said, “If you don’t like what we do, feel free to shoot us.” The 2nd amendment includes the phrase “a well-regulated militia”--right-wingers always ignore that phrase.

The “militia” part is key to understanding the 2nd Amendment. There was no standing army at the time and the “right to bear arms” was about every able-bodied man being ready to defend the country against foreign invasion. At the time, soldiers were often required to supply their own weapons. The constitution offers other ways to defend against tyranny—elections, checks and balances, and as a last resort, impeachment, which was meant to be used rarely and  only for the most egregious of crimes.

Bill devoted the last bit of his “New Rules” segment to the issue of guns, He said that gun-nuts think they need guns to protest their freedom, but they have already lost their freedom. The real threat to freedom is “Big Brother.” The government can look at our emails, can monitor our phone calls, can pry into our private life in all sorts of ways.  He said, “They think guns keep them free, but we have lost all our rights except gun rights.  “It’s like a strip club with a million bouncers and no strippers.”

Finally, I would like to award the first ever “Easy Mark” award of the week to Michelle Caruso-Cabera. She has evidently been living in the right-wing bubble because she looked startled when even fellow Republican, LaTourette, called her out on her statements.

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This picture of  targets within a speech bubble is from http://us.123rf.com

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Homeland Took It All

by Catherine Giordano

I told you that Showtime’s “Homeland” is the best drama on premium cable TV.  The Golden Globes concurs.

      “Homeland” won for best TV series/drama. It also won last year for Season One.

Claire Danes (portraying Homeland’s Carrie Mathison) won for best actor/drama. She also won last year for Season Two.

Damian Lewis (portraying Homeland’sNick Body) won for best actor/drama. It’s his first win.

We have a long wait for Season Three—it won’t begin until the fall of 2013. 

Most likely Saul Berenson (portrayed by Mandy Patinkin) will become director of the CIAnow that Estes and practically everyone else at the CIA died in the car bomb explosion at the end of Season Two. They believe in doing things big on “Homeland.”

The show-runners revealed that Brody will be presumed to have been in the car when it exploded so he will be presumed dead. This should give him and Carrie a little breathing room as they try to clear Brody’s name.

In Season Two, we learned that there is a mole in the CIA. Is the mole responsible for moving Brody’s car and rigging the bomb?

Carried will be under a lot of pressure in Season Three, even more than in the previous seasons, if that is even possible. She will have this deep secret concerning Brody. She will have been promoted within the CIA with a lot more responsibility. And remember she still has to deal with her bipolar disorder.

Homeland took it all at the Golden Globes.  Now where will Homeland take us in Season Three? Will they blow us all away again and take in all once again in 2013?

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Monday, January 14, 2013

HBO Enlightened “The Key” #11 On a Mission

The season 2 of Enlightened premiered on Sunday January 13 on HBO. It’s officially named #11, “The Key.”

Amy Jellicoe (played by Laura Dern) is on a mission. She’s always on a mission of one sort of another. It is how she defines herself and gives her life meaning.

Her “partner-in-crime” is her co-worker, Tyler (played by Mike White). Amy usually manages to drag poor Tyler into her schemes.  For a lady who portrays an image of sweetness and light, she is quite a manipulator.

Amy has used Tyler’s password to hack into the email files of Abbadonn’s management.  She takes these files to a journalist, Jeff Lender (played by Dermont Mulroney) known for writing corporate exposés for the local newspaper. 

Amy’s dreams of bringing Abadonn down are crushed when Jeff tells her she has nothing. The emails show unethical and immoral behavior, but not anything illegal.  Jeff asks her if she is just on a mission for revenge. Amy says her mission is only to right wrongs.

Jeff tells Amy that she can be useful. Her access to the company’s electronic files can right wrongs. Abaddonn has been paying off government officials. Jeff’s mission is to use Amy to “blow the lid off” these secret pay-offs.  

Amy is tired of feeling small. She needs to do something to feel alive. She doesn’t want to go back to being nothing. Tyler on the other hand is something of a nebbish.  He doesn’t have much ambition, he doesn’t want much from life; he’s just a quiet guy who lives a quiet lonely life.  Maybe that is why Amy has so much power to manipulate him—she may be his only friend.

And that’s about it for this episode. Not much action—the episode is just setting the stage for the rest of the season. We will see some kind of relationship between Amy and Jeff, and we’ll see Amy’s adventures as a spy.

I hope we will be seeing more of Jeff.  He’s a hunk and a nice change from Amy’s ex-husband, Levi, the slacker.

A lot of time in this episode is spent on voice-over philosophy-ing.  There are lots of shots of skyscrapers glittering in the night and talk of “dreams and kingdoms and how this will end and life and earth will reign again.”  (The writers have apparently fallen into a bushel of metaphors.) And the final shot—the “guess-what- the-metaphor-means” moment of the week-- is a sea turtle swimming alone in the ocean.

Oh my little seas turtles—each of us swims alone in the sea of life.

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Amy's new squeeze--journalist Jeff Flender (played by Demont Mulrooney)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

He's Gone

by Catherine Giordano

I’m missing Showtime’s “Dexter” as I wait for Season 8 to begin sometime later this year.  So I decided to do a little fan fiction. 

This is my account of a scene from Season 7, episode 10.  It took only a minute to play on screen. In my recap of this moment, I include only a few lines of dialogue. Most of what I have written was conveyed by the actors conveyed with facial expression and body language.

He's Gone

Dexter and Hannah sat a small table in front of Hannah’s modest home. It was almost Christmas, but in Miami the morning sun was warm. Hannah’s shoulder length blond hair fluttered a bit in the breeze. She gazed into Dexter’s face. At 36, he was ten years older than her, but he looked like the boy next door, his short brown hair framing his handsome face, his blue eyes showing glints of green in the morning sun.

They had finished breakfast, but were lingering over a second cup of coffee. They werenewly lovers and like new lovers everywhere, they wanted to postpone the moment when they would have to leave each other and go to their jobs.

Hannah said, “I tried to meet with my father yesterday to give him the money he demanded. He never showed up.” Hannah did not know if she should feel relieved or worried.

“Don’t worry about your father,” Dexter said. “I had a talk with him. He won’t be bothering you anymore.”

“He’s gone?” Hannah asked.

The thought that Dexter might have done something drastic to her father troubled her. She knew Dexter was a killer, but she also knew that Dexter had a “code.” He only killed people who had killed others. Her father was a cruel, self-centered, and emotionally abusive man, but he had never killed anyone.

Her father was blackmailing her about the murders she had committed in the past, but she she could not kill her own father. She had explicitly explained this to Dexter and told Dexter he was not to kill her father either. He was a bad father, but still he was her father. She pushed the troubling thought from her mind.

“He won’t bother you again,” Dexter repeated.

Hannah looked directly at Dexter and raised her hands slowly to touch his cheeks. “I love you,” she said.

Dexter heard those words as if they had come from a far distance, as if they were slow-motion bullets traversing the air to penetrate his heart. The room was a blur except for Hannah’s face. His throat constricted; he could hardly breathe. It seemed to him like a very long time before he spoke.

When he finally spoke, he felt like he had to physically push each word up his throat and out of his mouth.

“I think … I love you too,” he said. He realized that it was the first time in his life that he had ever spoken those words and meant them. He knew then that this was a moment that would change his life. He was not sure that he welcomed this change.

You can read my review of the entire episode entitled “Choice and Consequence.”
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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

HBO's "Enlightened" Returns

by Catherine Giordano

“Enlightened' is an offbeat HBO series starring Laura Dern as Amy Jelllicoe, a 40 year old woman who a very public meltdown at work—her boss was also her lover and it all fell apart. She spends three months at a holistic new-agey  treatment center in Hawaii and  returns ready to get her act together.

Amy is so fragile, so overflowing with good intentions, so sweetly earnest, that it is sometimes painful to watch as she tried to pick up the pieces of her life. Things never turn out the way she hopes, but after each set back she picks herself up, dusts herself off and keeps on trying. She suffers so many setbacks and disappointments, but she has learned her “positive-thinking” lessons well and remains optimistic.

Amy is back living with her mother, Helen, (played by Diane Ladd, Dern's real-life mom). Amy and Helen have a somewhat strained relationship and Amy want desperately to have her mother love her. Helen is cold and aloof, and projects the air of “the long suffering mother” with respect to Amy. Helen has her own problems—her only interest in life is tending to her flower garden.

Amy is divorced but on friendly terms with her ex-husband Levi (played by Luke Wilson).  He’s a bit of a slacker struggling with demons and addictions of his own.  It is clear to me that they still love each other, but things never quite work out for them. Levi disappoints Amy again and again.

Amy has returned to her former place of employment Abbandon Industries, due to a bit of gentle blackmail.  (Evidently, Amy’s could sue them for wrongful termination if they don’t take her back.)  Much to Amy’s dismay, she is not given her old job back as a health and beauty aids brand manager; instead to is sent to the basement where a group of misfits labors at tedious data entry work.

By the way, nice name “Abaddonn.”  It could mean “bad is done”, but it also remind me of the word “abandon” as in “Abandon hope all who enter here.” The place is soul-killing. 

[Blogger's Update 2/6/13::  I just happened to stumble upon the word "Abaddon" with only a single "n." The dictionary definition is "a place of destruction, an underworld of lost souls; Hell." Oh, those writers are so clever.]

Amy’s former workplace friends shun her and she gets off to a bad start with her new co-workers.  However, she sets about making friends with them with the same earnestness that she applies to everything she does.

Amy has discovered that Abaddonn Industries involved in illegal activities involving pollution and other things, and she is determined to get the company to change its ways. If not, she will expose them. She pushed ahead with determination and optimism, apparently not realizing just how much danger she me be in as a result of these activities.

Laura Dern won a well-deserved Global Globe for Best Actress: TV Series Musical or Comedy. Laura does a delicate balancing simultaneously portraying vulnerability and strength. The series is a comedy, but you’ll laugh while fighting back tears. Despite everything, it’s a terrific show that I look forward to watching each week.

HBO is rerunning episodes of Season One all week.  If you missed Season One, catch up with these reruns.  Season Two begins at (:30 pm on Sunday January 13, 2012. 

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Laura Dern as Amy from a poster for HBO's Enlightened. Plucky Amy is caught having a bad day.