Thursday, October 29, 2015

November Sweeps

Yay! Jason Bateman is going to guest star on The Muppets soon. I suppose it's too much to hope that Will Arnett also shows up. (They both have previous experience with Muppets, appearing separately on Sesame Street.) At least the show's ratings finally held steady, even against the World Series.

Anyway, November sweeps are almost here, including the stunt crossover between Bones and Sleepy Hollow. We'll see how ridiculous that is. The Halloween episodes of Fresh Off the Boat and Black-ish were pretty great, but I loved Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Halloween heist more.

The last couple of eps of Minority Report have featured good backstory on Vega and the Precogs. I really do hope the ending is satisfying. The Supergirl pilot was good, reminding me a lot of how earnest Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman could be. I hope that later episodes continue with this fun, cheerful vibe, because I can't take more doom and gloom.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Scary Times

There was a lot of rain and flooding last week, but it tapered off by Saturday. There may be more rain for Halloween, though I hope it won't be as severe.

I was shocked by Netanyahu trying to blame the Holocaust on Haj Amin al-Husseini, so he could tar all Palestinians as genocidal and anti-Semitic. (Even though Hitler began killing Jews before he met with al-Husseini.) I'm glad Netanyahu was criticized internationally for it, though the US can't seem to rebuke him more than verbally. When will Israel face any real consequences for this kind of incitement to violence? Good luck negotiating a ceasefire again.

I still don't know what's going to happen with the Planned Parenthood raids in Texas. Apparently, they are merely threatening to terminate Medicaid funding, but haven't done so yet. I still hope courts can block it.

Hillary Clinton had a pretty good week after the debates and the Benghazi testimony. She was just on Colbert's show, and I felt a little better about her when Clinton said that she would let big banks fail this time, and break them up if they engage in risky behavior. Maybe her plan could work after all.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Soap Trope

Tonight's episode of Black-ish was much better. The Johnsons are "CEO churchgoers" who go on Christmas and Easter only, but now they try out churches. Junior seemed to like both. Diane going to court-ordered therapy, and being so evil, makes it easy to see why Charlie doesn't like her. The Jewish woman in Dre's office getting sent to HR was absurd but believable, with the clueless boss. But I still wonder why we focus so constantly on Dre's work colleagues and not Bow's.

The description for tonight's Empire was completely wrong. Anika didn't show up at all, much less work with Cookie on some launch party. I was bored for much of the episode, and I didn't like the music. I can't believe the Feds claimed that Vernon committed suicide to save embarrassment; what a disappointing, anticlimactic end to that story. I increasingly dislike Lucious's flashbacks about his Mom. Are they trying to make us sympathize with him? I don't, because he doesn't share these memories out loud with anyone or explain to Andre why he treats him so badly. Oh, you don't believe in God, do you, Lucious? To me, you're the one who needs to "man up" and confess your sins. If you won't confess to your family, then at least go to therapy and work through your issues. I didn't like the kidnapping at the end, because it feels like a stupid cliffhanger stunt just because the World Series is next week. I guess I can quit watching now and just read a recap after the next episode to find out how Hakeem is rescued.

Some shows will be off next week for the World Series (or Halloween specials). At least Supergirl will finally premiere. I was hoping that the Suffragette movie would come out this week, but I guess it won't reach my local theaters until November 6.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Save Our Science

What a shame. Ahmed Mohamed and his whole family are moving to Qatar now it seems. It's bad enough that his arrest gave Irving and by extension Texas a black eye. But of course the xenophobes (and atheist jackass Richard Dawkins) had to belittle his clock and insinuate dumb conspiracy theories about how he was set up by his father hoping to scare people. At least Ahmed got to attend the Astronomy Night at the White House.

It's really sad that science education has come to this. There used to be a stereotype that kids who became future engineers often spent their time disassembling and reassembling clocks, toasters, and other gadgets just to learn how they worked and to see if they could put it back together. No, I guess it's not "inventing" things, but it's exercising their curiosity and learning to tinker. But apparently a Muslim kid is not allowed to grow up like all the other geeks. Apparently he was being "provocative" and "divisive".

How depressing, on top of Texas pulling Medicaid funds from Planned Parenthood due to those shitty videos. I hope this gets blocked. Anyway, early voting has started in Texas for seven amendments to the state constitution. I voted today after reading and downloading a couple of guides about the propositions on ballots. I don't live in Houston, but I wish good luck to them about upholding the HERO ordinance.

At least Canada had a good election. I heard that the new Trudeau might be more attentive to Aboriginal rights.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Arrested Misfire

The latest Black-ish episode was a clunker to me. I did wonder why they were doing a "Daddy's Day" in October, but that girl saying it should replace the racist Columbus Day was so crazy, given that people in real life are actually trying to change that holiday to Indigenous People's Day. No one even tells that teenager that her idea is so very wrong and insulting. I know it's a silly sitcom, but to me it's beyond ridiculous that any advertising firm would try to create a duplicate/alternate Father's Day on such a politically and racially charged day. It's so ridiculous that I can't suspend my disbelief, let alone find it funny. Plus, the plot about Dre hiring the other girl to be in the commercial was nonsensical. He's an advertising man; wouldn't hiring his real daughter to be in his commercial be a form of inappropriate nepotism? The commercial didn't even feature Dre playing that girl's father. So why on earth would Zoey expect to be hired for that campaign, and why would other people claim that it's somehow a betrayal of her for Dre not to hire her? This was so silly and over the top.

Overall it reminded me of the plot of Arrested Development's episode "Afternoon Delight" with Michael and Maeby getting jealous of Lindsay and George Michael spending time together, and vice versa. I think it worked better there because there was no dumb ad campaign involved, and the holiday was Christmas, which has been lampooned plenty. I mean, there were some fun moments in Black-ish like Charlie giving Zoey a driving lesson, but the absurdity about Daddy's Day just felt like meaningless and annoying whining. Meanwhile Bow and Junior bonded, and I kept expecting to learn that he was buttering her up for something in particular, but no, the show apparently intended it to be a creepy motherboy situation like what Dre had with Ruby. That did remind me a little of Bluth incest too, but I just didn't find it funny here.

Oppression and Occupation

The violence in Israel has been escalating to the point that people are calling it a Third Intifada. It's very sad and frustrating to feel so helpless, witnessing this stuff from afar. I don't know what can be done, and if John Kerry can do anything when he goes there. I mean, it's not like Netanyahu is going to agree to stop Israeli settlements and "collective punishment" of Palestinians.

Also depressing is Obama's announcement of keeping troops in Afghanistan. So the war continues both there and in Iraq, even after all these years. How do we get ourselves out of our own unwise occupations? And how do we avoid getting mired in war in Syria too? There's no easy solutions that I can see, especially with fucking Republicans still obsessed about Benghazi for political gain.

Last week I watched the He Named Me Malala documentary, as well as the 1982 movie Gandhi when it aired on TV. They are both good films about the power of nonviolence and making a difference in the world despite the cost.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

More Wu, Less Hughes

Fresh Off the Boat got its back-nine order, which is a good sign for renewal for next season. I haven't enjoyed the last couple of episodes, though. I totally did not like the dad being so gaga about the dance and Pretty in Pink. I know I should identify with John Hughes movies due to my generation, but I actually didn't see those films when I was the right age for them. I was a shy misfit and didn't go to dances at all, either. I heard the iconic '80s songs on the radio and liked them, but never knew what movies they were from. Eventually I did watch Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller, but didn't really like or remember them. So no nostalgia haze about the rite of passage from me. Anyway, I hope Fresh Off the Boat will improve soon; maybe the plot with Jessica, Honey, and Grandma flipping houses will be funny. Constance Wu still deserves an Emmy.

Democratic Debate

Well, the first debate was last night, and I saw it with a crowd of enthusiastic viewers. (We clapped a lot.) Nationally, 15.3 million people watched, which is not as much as the viewers of the recent Republican debates, but I think it's still pretty respectable for cable. Due to technical difficulties and speeches from the local party leaders, we missed the national anthem and the first two speeches by Chafee and Webb, but I don't think it mattered much.

I did not appreciate how CNN tried to hype a possible appearance by Joe Biden (so glad he didn't take the bait) and to criticize Hillary about those damn emails. Bernie was totally right that we don't want to hear any more about those emails. I can't believe Anderson Cooper had the nerve to scoff at Hillary, "How can you call it political?" when she just brought up Kevin McCarthy. He fucking admitted that the committee was purely political! Shame on you, Anderson, for that, and the disgraceful question about conscientious objector status somehow being a disqualifier for being commander in chief. "Commander in chief" does not require military experience; it is a civilian status, just saying that the POTUS has supreme authority over the armed forces. I'm glad that Jim Webb didn't take the bait, but otherwise, I didn't like his performance. He gave very bad, Republican-ish answers about the Iran deal, and kept bringing up China. CNN also irrelevantly brought up whether Bernie had smoked pot; what the fuck does that matter? Just ask about their policy on legalizing marijuana, Anderson, not juvenile shit for soundbites!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

More TV

Well, Fox cut Minority Report to 10 episodes instead of 13. At least they didn't pull it off the air, and are promising a satisfying conclusion when it ends. I'm sad, but I'm getting used to all the shows I like getting cancelled (or turning horrendously awful like The Good Wife and Castle). I would have preferred to keep this show instead of Rosewood. Not only is Minority Report's cast diversity cool, but they fixed the racist Washington NFL team by renaming them Red Clouds after Lakota chief Red Cloud.

My local PBS station has started airing old Miss Marple episodes (the ones starring Joan Hickson) so at least I can turn to that for light cozy mysteries. Nobody makes detective shows like they used to. It seems that Hollywood thinks that "mystery show" means "police procedural" with lots of crime scene gore and arrogant leads who defy rules and brutalize suspects for no reason. I'd take even a revival of the short-lived Andy Barker, P.I. about now.

I read recently that NBC is developing a pilot loosely based on Wendy Davis, and modeled after The Good Wife. I don't know if I'll watch, as it might make me depressed about Davis not becoming governor, but then again, so few shows are set in Texas. Also The Good Wife turned into such repetitive crap that it would be nice to have somebody do it better. Have to wait and see how that turns out, I guess.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Meh TV

I think I've had it with Rosewood. It's not getting any better, and the detective Villa is just too abrasive and unsympathetic for no reason. Her arguments with Rosewood, and his arguments with his mother, are so repetitive. Nothing is accomplished by them. I don't feel sorry for Villa, and I don't even know what the point was of her therapy session. The show keeps trying to tug our heartstrings about Rosie's health problems too, but I find it manipulative and jarring to toss in serious drama in what was advertised just to be a fun and light show. This isn't what I was promised. This is just CSI with arrogant jerks for leads. What happened to light mystery shows like Monk? There's been news that a new Nancy Drew show is in development, but it'll probably just be a boring police procedural; or worse, its brand of feminism will be along the lines of the soul-killing Agent Carter. No thanks.

Sadly, the show that is getting better--Minority Report--is dropping rapidly in ratings. I'm afraid it won't be able to finish its run. Almost Human was similar, but way too slow in making progress on its story arc; it became a boring procedural. If only Minority Report could trade ratings with Rosewood, but that would mean they'd have to switch timeslots. I guess I should just enjoy it while it lasts.

I'm frustrated by Empire too. I don't like Jamal being whiny and led around by Lucious. I don't like Andre begging futilely for forgiveness, or Lucious not even telling him that his own mother had mental issues. The plot seems to be treading water like an ordinary soap, which makes me apathetic. The previews for next week imply that the show will finally address Vernon's murder, so I'll stick around for that. But if something doesn't change soon, I'll give up. Maybe only check in for the season finale.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Church and State

I'm really annoyed by how people keep violating the separation of church and state. A public elementary school in Georgia kept leading students in Christian prayer, and harassed students for not praying. It's really horrible that they keep perpetuating this mistaken belief that America is a Christian nation. It is not. There are Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, atheists, etc. who have religious rights too. The 1st Amendment is about freedom from religion, as much as freedom of religion. The government is not supposed to allow teachers to proselytize to students like this. If you want to teach your kids Christianity, then send them to Bible school or a private religious school; keep your faith out of our public institutions, which are supposed to be for everyone!

I personally am agnostic and went through a Texas public school education. They didn't do daily prayers at my schools, though they did have "invocations" at the graduation ceremony, and I was outraged and appalled to be expected to bow my head and listen to somebody talk about "our Lord and savior." He's YOUR Lord and savior, not mine, and this isn't a freaking church, you asshole!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Meanwhile on TV

Sleepy Hollow seems to be better now, with Pandora putting the Headless Horseman on ice in her magic box. We can move on from all that Moloch mess, I guess. I miss Irving, but was at least glad that Jenny got to shine. I was really worried about her when she got knocked out; I kept saying, "Go check on Jenny" while Ichabod and Abbie were hugging. I'm not sure about Betsy Ross (and where she'd fit into the previous story about Crane, Abraham, and Katrina) yet, but since she's in the credits too, I guess we'll get more development later. It is kind of fun that the show has lots more female characters now.

On Wednesday I had a blackout in the middle of primetime, so I missed half of Empire. What I saw seemed okay, though the flashback with Lucious's mother was too confusing. I guess I'll stick with the show for now, as long as they don't do that crap about pretending Lucious is innocent; maybe his sleazy lawyer can work that angle, but I don't want anyone else participating in stuff like that shitty concert in the premiere. That was really fucking offensive to use Black Lives Matter that way. I liked Black-ish more, with its tackling of gun control.

Not Shiny and New

So apparently everybody's talking about the Pope's meeting with Kim Davis. Progressives and other apologists want to believe that the Pope was tricked into the meeting, does not support Davis, and is not homophobic; I mean, he met with an old gay friend and his family, so he's totally tolerant! Well, whoop-de-doo. Pope Francis might just be a "hate the sin, love the sinner" kind of guy; I don't buy this stupid PR back-pedaling, when they could have come out with a stronger statement to begin with.

Just yesterday people were saying that the Pope meeting her was not surprising, and people deluded themselves into thinking he was cool. No one's investigating the discrepancies between Kim Davis claiming she got 15 minutes in private, with a blessing and rosaries, and the Vatican's new claim that it was just a few seconds with tons of other people visiting. I don't give a crap about which version's more accurate. The Pope's still Catholic no matter what, and he did meet with some nuns to support them resisting Obamacare's birth control mandate; he also made Junipero Serra a saint despite objections from Native Americans. He's still tarnished, and his church is still problematic. Sure he's better than previous popes, but let's not get blinded and give him more credit than he deserves. Kudos to Pope Francis for focusing on climate change, immigration, and the poor. Boo on the shitty hypocritical stuff. If he helps in some areas, fine, but I'm not going to idolize him or Bernie Sanders 'cause people want them to be cool. I want fucking results, not promises of change.

I'd rather focus on the Palestinian president giving up on the peace accords because Israel has sabotaged the peace process every step of the way. I'd rather that we get new Republican leadership in Congress that's not crazy and intransigent. I'd rather we take Obama's speech to heart and actually work on gun control this time instead of speculating about the shooter in Oregon. But no, nothing ever changes in politics. It's so frustrating.