Inhuman Swill : Television : Page 2

Hook, line and Dan Sinker


Dan Sinker, a/k/a @MayorEmanuel, appeared on The Colbert Report Tuesday night, and I have to say he hit it out of the park. Occasionally a guest will say something so funny or bizarre that Colbert has nothing to say in response. Sinker did it twice.

The first clip here sets up the interview in the second clip:

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And your little Terriers, too!

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Dear FX Networks:

I've never before been moved to write a television network to express my love for a program that has struggled in its ratings, but that's exactly what I'm doing now. There are few shows I've ever come to love so quickly and fiercely as I love Terriers. I hope you'll renew it and give this compelling, idiosyncratic show a chance to find a wider audience.

You know, of course, that the writing and directing on Terriers is top-notch. The show is brisk and involving, witty and suspenseful. (In what was probably my favorite single episode, "Agua Caliente," the suspense was excruciating.) At the outset of the series, I assumed I was watching nothing more than an unusually good PI drama with snappy dialogue. It wasn't long, though, before I realized how attached I had become to the characters, and what an emotional stake I had in their problems, both personal and professional.

This points out that no matter how good the talent behind the cameras, the show would be nothing without great acting, which is exactly what Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James deliver in every episode. They're tough when they have to be, they desperately try to be as smart as they need to be, but they never fail to exude warmth and charm and vulnerability. Their friendship is one of the most natural-seeming I've seen on television, which only makes the ordeals they endure all the more devastating. Donal Logue, in particular, has never been better.

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I know your heart, Joseph Purcell

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I love the AMC series Rubicon so much that I tracked down a copy of one of the out-of-print collections of producer/writer Henry Bromell's New Yorker short stories from the '70s. I've started I Know Your Heart, Marco Polo, and so far I'm very taken with the hallucinatory prose style. Can't wait to finish it.

I think it's the first time that someone's television work has prompted me to seek out his or her fiction. Racing through The Wire is what finally prompted me to read David Simon's non-fiction Homicide, a book that had been mocking me from the shelf for twenty years. (Interestingly, Bromell also worked on the Homicide television series.) I started watching Justified precisely because I was a fan of the Elmore Leonard novels featuring Raylan Givens. (Of course, it also didn't hurt that Timothy Olyphant from Deadwood was playing the character.)

But I'm pretty sure the Bromell conversion is a first. If I keep enjoying the stories, his novel Little America, a semi-autobiographical (I gather) tale of a son trying to understand his father's C.I.A. career, sounds pretty interesting.

Any of you other Rubicon fans recognize the name Joseph Purcell?
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'Bye, "Boys"

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It was Laura who discovered the show in late 2006 and convinced me to start watching it with her. A sitcom about a female sportswriter in Chicago and her circle of male poker buddies. We were both hooked, not just because the group of friends were so damn nice and charming and funny, but because the lead character, P.J., seemed so much more like a real woman than most women on television. I guess the show reminded us of our circle of friends.

The second season of "My Boys" (later canonically folded into season one) started the same month we moved to Chicago from New York City. It was like a group of old friends welcoming us to the city, right down to the shot of Wrigley Field in the opening credits (which is where we saw The Police in concert the very week we moved here). If it wasn't already our favorite show, it took that slot then.

That summer season of "My Boys" ran a scant nine episodes, as has every season since. Like a butterfly migration, it arrives unexpectedly in the spring or summer and is gone again too soon. The gang's hangout, Crowley's Tavern, became for us the adult analog of Sesame Street—the mythical happy place we wanted to find and inhabit.

No more. It turns out that the season just ended is the "My Boys" swan song. TBS has canceled the series. We watched the two final episodes back-to-back last night, eating ice cream, happy for the characters' happy endings but mourning their exit from our lives.

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Hold onto your head scarves. There are 103 full episodes of "21 Jump Street" available on Hulu. Johnny Depp must be so pleased. You needed to know.

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Why I love Malcolm Tucker

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I think most people know me as a fairly laid-back guy in person, never getting too exercised or losing my cool, even when someone's being a jerk to me. If that's your opinion, then you've never worked in an office with me. Seriously. Ask the good, long-suffering people at BenefitsCheckUp or Sesame Workshop. (Actually, don't ask the people at Sesame Workshop. Most of the folks I used to work with there got the ax even before I did.)

If you talked to them, you'd find out that I could be a real bastard in the workplace. Some people at my last job were apparently afraid to talk to me when I thought they'd messed up, or at all. I made at least one producer at the Sesame Street website cry. Mind you, I'm not proud of this. No, wait, actually I am.

Over the past week or so, I've watched the recent film In the Loop three times on DVD. Besides its scathing, cynical view of the political process that lubricated our way into Iraq, I can't get enough of Malcolm Tucker, the angry, profane press secretary who never encountered a functionary he couldn't intimidate or a problem he couldn't spin his way out of. I want to be Malcolm Tucker, or at least be that articulate when I'm enraged.

Tucker, as played by Peter Capaldi, is also a character on the BBC comedy series The Thick of It. That's the source of the short video clip below (decidedly NSFW in its language), which pretty well sums up the Tucker philosophy.

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Breaking good

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All that's going on in the world today and in my life lately has apparently not been enough to drag my short attention span away from Twitter*, but there's a television series that just managed it.

A few minutes ago, I finished watching the season 2 finale of AMC's original series Breaking Bad. I should be working on my novel right now, but I've been awake since 3:30 this morning when thunderstorms woke up the dog and consequently woke us up. As long as I was up anyway, I took the dog to the couch and started watching TV shows from the DVR. I watched an episode of Reaper, then an episode of Lie to Me, and then, because I just couldn't resist putting the reward off any longer, last night's episode of Breaking Bad.

If you're not familiar with the series, it's the story of a high school chemistry teacher named Walter White (Malcolm in the Middle's Bryan Cranston) who is diagnosed with lung cancer and starts a meth lab to provide money for his family for after he's gone. I love the series not just for the impeccable acting and directing, but for the pitilessness of the writing. Even when Walt makes his best and smartest decisions, the remorseless logic of his situation (and in fact of his own pride and anger) twists him deeper and deeper into a trap of his own making. His bid to save his family—and, it must be said, his desire to demonstrate to himself how smart he is—only ends up driving them all apart, and the consequences for the lesser players who enter his orbit are even worse.

Why does this relentless arc make me so happy to watch, even when watching sometimes feels like taking a knife in the gut? Maybe it's something of the same impulse that makes Eminem's rapping so compelling, even when (as in "3 A.M.") the content is repulsive. It's the thrill of watching artists in utter control of their tools.

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Roscoe Orman

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Hey, that was Gordon from Sesame Street on S5E4 of The Wire!

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They call him Bruce?


Friday night we headed over to the Landmark Theater at the Century Centre for a late-night showing of the Bruce Campbell–directed Bruce Campbell flick My Name Is Bruce. My review is over at

If you have any scintilla of interest in the Campbell oeuvre, you should see this flick. Campbell is currently on a promotional tour, and you can check here to see if he's coming to your town (or, um, if he's already been and you missed it). His live, faux-hostile Q&A sessions after the movie are possibly more entertaining than the movie itself, and should not be missed.

We were lucky enough that Campbell's Burn Notice costar Jeffrey Donovan, who is in town appearing in Don't Dress for Dinner at the Royal George Theater, joined the Q&A here as a surprise guest. Laura, who is a big fan, just about lost her mind. Campbell and Donovan together were as funny and profane as fuck. My 13-year-old son, in town with us for Thanksgiving, was beside himself, and actually held his own with Campbell in an exchange about the movie Congo.

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Waiting for the re-up

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Thanks to Netflix, I've been enjoying a steady diet of The Wire, an episode a day on average—um, sometimes two. I'm nearly to the end of the third season. I watched Episode 10 last Thursday. The fifth disc of Season Three, with the last two episodes, was supposed to arrive Friday.

Friday's mail came and went. No DVD.

I didn't start to panic until Saturday's mail had also come and gone with no sign of my re-up. Trembling a little, I logged into Netflix to report the disc lost. Netflix told me that occasional delays are to be expected, and that I would not be able to report the disc missing and request a replacement until Monday.

I began to sweat.

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

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William Shunn