Category Archives: Television

Thoughts On the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz

This coming Monday is a somber day. It is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Earlier in the week, PBS aired an episode of Secrets of the Dead that focused on the fact that though the Allies knew about the death camp and were urged to bomb it, they chose not to.

What makes me angry is that the purpose of this war was to fight for democracy and human rights. And yet, when the Allies had an opportunity to make a statement about the very thing that they were fighting for, they chose not to.

I can’t help but think of the time, energy, resources, and the lives that were wasted in the Holocaust. We will never know what the victims and their forebears might have given to the world. We will also never know what those who worked in the camps might have done with their lives if they had not given into the hate and believed the lies of the Nazis.

We talk about “Never Again” and how we will never let a specific people be ostracized, traumatized and murdered. And yet, in our modern world, with all of the hate that has started to once more consume us, the message feels as important as ever.

May the memories of those who were killed within Auschwitz be a blessing and a reminder of how inhuman we can be to our fellow humans.

Z”l.

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Roseanne and The Conners Character Review: Darlene Conner

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series  Roseanne and The ConnersRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Roseanne and The Conners to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Having a sense of humor is a good way of getting through life. Having a sarcastic sense of humor is a great way of getting through life. On Roseanne and The Conners, Darlene Conner (Sara Gilbert) is sarcastic, creative, tomboyish and not afraid to speak her mind. The second daughter and middle child of Roseanne and Dan Conner (Roseanne Barr and John Goodman), Darlene is very much her mother’s daughter.

In her early teens, Darlene is very much a tomboy. As she grows up, she becomes very vocal about her art and her beliefs in animal rights and veganism. She also starts to date David Healy (Johnny Galecki), a young man who is usually the compliant one compared to his girlfriend. After a tumultuous time in Chicago, (where Darlene is in art school), she and David become pregnant, get married and bring their daughter, Harris into the world.

Though it appears that David and Darlene are headed toward their happy ending, their relationship ends in divorce. After Darlene looses her job, she has to move back to Lanford to live with her parents.

To sum it up: It would have been easy for the writers to create the typical compliant teenage girl. But Darlene is far from typical or compliant. Partially due to her sarcastic nature, she stands out from the pantheon of sitcom daughters. That is why audiences have loved her for three decades.

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Howards End Book Review

Sometimes it takes a moment and a spark to change a life.

E.M. Foster‘s 1910 novel, Howard’s End, takes place in early 20th century England and tells the story of the intertwining of three families. The upper-middle-class Wilcoxes, the middle-class Schlegels, and the lower class Basts. The story of how these families intertwine starts when Helen Schlagel gets involved romantically with Paul Wilcox. Telling a story about the mingling and clashing of class and sex, Foster speaks not only of his era but our era.

The impulse to read the book came from the miniseries that is currently airing on PBS. Up to this point, I’ve heard of the book but never read it. While it was a reasonable read, it is one of those books that I can check off having read. It’s not a bad book, but I was also lost partway through.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Throwback Thursday- Property Brothers: Buying + Selling (2012 to Present)

The process of preparing your home to be sold so you can buy another requires that the homeowner put their best home foot forward.

Property Brothers: Buying+ Selling has aired on HGTV since 2012. The premise of the program is that brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott step in to help the subject of each episode with the home buying process. But before the house can be sold, it requires some sort of renovation. While this renovation is being done, the homeowners are looking at potential new homes. At the end of each episode, the homeowner’s current home (post renovation) is sold and they will be moving into a new home.

Anyone who has read this blog knows that I have mixed feelings about the reality genre in general. This show, however, I like. It has enough of a high stakes drama to it, but it is not so derogatory that I feel my brain cells dying while I am watching it.

I recommend it.

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Thoughts On the Impeachment & You Know Who's Sea Wall Comment

Regardless of where you land on the political spectrum, I think it’s safe to say that this current President has, if nothing else, rocked the political boat.

You know who’s recent comment about the proposal to build a seawall to protect New York City from another Hurricane Sandy is both arrogant and ignorant. I don’t know where he was during the hurricane, but I know where I was. It was one of the scariest experiences of my life and a kick in the pants that climate change is real and destructive.

The ironic thing is that while he mocks the effort to protect the residents of New York City from another massive hurricane, he continues to believe that building a wall is the solution to resolve the issue of immigration reform. Building the wall and maintaining on the Southern border is a waste of money, time and the human resources. If he truly wanted to reform our immigration issues, he would be doing everything in his power to work with Congress. Instead he makes up lies and spouts false promises that will never become reality.

Speaking of, last week, he became the third President in American history to be impeached.

To be fair, this does not mean (at least at this point in time), that he will be even found guilty or removed from office. Only time can tell us that. But, the message is clear. No one, not even the President of the United States is above the law. He or she is as bound to follow the rules as any of us are.

As Senator Nancy Pelosi (D-California) stated on Real Time with Bill Maher,

“If I knew that the president is listening, I would want him to know that he is impeached forever, and he is impeached forever because he used the office of the president to try to influence a foreign country for his personal and political benefit. In doing so, he undermined our national security, he was disloyal to his oath of office to protect the Constitution and he placed in jeopardy the integrity of our election,” she added later. “He gave us no choice.”

As of now, we don’t know how this will all turn out. Regardless of what happens, it is a stark reminder of how important it is to what has to be done to keep our democracy alive. If we don’t, I am seriously afraid of what the consequences will be.

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Filed under History, National News, New York City, Politics, Television

Flashback Friday-Insane Pools (2015-Present)

For some, having your standard square shaped pool on their property is just fine. But for others, they want a little more when it comes to their pool. That is where Lucas Lagoons comes in.

Since 2015, the crew at Lucas Lagoons has been creating fantastic pools for their clients on the Animal Planet show Insane Pools. This reality program follows Lucas Congdon and his staff as they meet with clients and create the pools of their client’s dreams.

This show is an interesting one for me. As a writer and a human being, I’ve always been curious about the creative process for any artist. Creating these pools requires a certain amount of artistry and talent. It’s not just digging a hole in the ground, filling it with cement and then filling it with water. It takes a creative mind to create the kinds of pools that will wow clients and keep them swimming in their pools for years to come.

I recommend it.

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Roseanne and The Conners Character Review: Becky Conner

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series  Roseanne and The ConnersRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Roseanne and The Conners to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

The path of life is riddled with potholes, missteps and walls. The question is, do we let them stop us or do we find a way to move on? On Roseanne and The Conners, Becky Conner (played by both Alicia Goranson and Sarah Chalke) is the oldest child of Roseanne and Dan Conner (Roseanne Barr and John Goodman). The audience initially meets Becky when she is a young woman. Like many girls in their preteens and early teens, she is interested in clothes, makeup and boys. But though she can act like a brat at times, she also takes on a good amount of household responsibilities.

The challenges come as Becky begins to grow up. She becomes a full on rebellious teenager, complete with underage drinking and dating boys whom her parents disapprove of. One of these boys is the Mark Healy (the late Glenn Quinn), her future husband. Their marriage is emotionally and financially rocky, ending in his off screen death.

In her 40’s, Becky is single, dealing with addiction issues and working as a waitress at a local restaurant. When she gets pregnant after trying to be a surrogate for another woman, Becky decides to keep her baby and raise her daughter with the help of her family.

To sum it up: Becky Conner is a survivor. She has been through a lot, but has come out of the other side stronger, smarter and tougher. It is that message of resilience that appeals to audiences and why after two decades, fans still come back to this character.

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Throwback Thursday-Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (2016-Present)

For the most part, late night TV has been a boys game. Only a handful of women have been able to be successful in the genre.

Samantha Bee is one of them.

Her late night talk show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee premiered in 2016 on TBS and has been a smash hit ever since. Combining news with satire, social commentary and a biting feminist wit, Bee presents the news of the day with a perspective that I believe is sorely needed.

I am huge fan of this show. Bee is smart, inquisitive and incredibly funny. This show is the perfect antidote to the staid and sometimes scary news that tells the story of our era.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Filed under Feminism, Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

Howards End/Sanditon Review

Classic and beloved novels are easy targets for stage and screen reboots. The question that fans have to ask is if these reboots hold up to the text.

Last night, the new adaptations of Howards End and Sanditon premiered on Masterpiece.

Based on the E.M. Foster novel, Howards End is the story of the intermingling of three families in the early 20th century in England. The Wilcoxes are upper class, the Schlegels are middle class and the Basts are lower class. With a cast led by Hayley Atwell and Matthew Macfadyen, this story of cross-class differences and secrets is bound to delight audiences.

I have a confession to make: I have heard of the book, but I have never read it. That will soon be remedied. In the meantime, I was completely taken in by the first episode and as of now, I plan on completing the series.

Sanditon was started by Jane Austen just months before she died. An eleven chapter fragment of a novel, respected television writer Andrew Davies continued where Austen left off. Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) is part Elizabeth Bennet and part Catherine Morland. The daughter of a large landed gentry family from the country, Charlotte is young and eager to spread her wings.

When an offer comes her way to visit Sanditon, an up and coming seaside resort, she immediately says yes. But Sanditon is a different world than the world she grew up in. One of the people she meets is Sydney Parker (Theo James, who played the infamous Mr. Pamuk on Downton Abbey), the brooding and sometimes rude younger brother of the couple who she is staying with.

For many Austen fans, Sanditon is a what-if experience. With only eleven chapters completed, we can only guess what the completed novel would have looked like. As an adaptation, so far, I have to say that I am impressed.

Like his previous Jane Austen adaptation, Davies knows when to stick to the script and when to add a little something extra.

What I liked about the series so far is that unlike most Austen heroines, Charlotte’s main reason for going to Sanditon is not to find a husband. Most of her heroines (with the exception of Emma Woodhouse) are motivated to marry because of family pressure and/or financial needs. Charlotte goes to Sanditon to see the world and experience life outside of the family that she grew up in. She is also curious about the world and shows interest in certain subjects that would not be deemed “appropriate” for a woman of this era.

I really enjoyed the first two episodes. It is a love letter to Austen fans and contains plenty of Easter eggs if one knows where to look.

I recommend both.

Howards End and Sanditon air on PBS on Sundays nights at 8:00 and 9:00 respectively.

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Filed under Books, Downton Abbey, Feminism, Jane Austen, Television, TV Review

The Nanny and Home Alone Reboots are Unnecessary

Every twenty years or so, Hollywood looks to the past for inspiration. Much of this inspiration turns into reboots of beloved movies or television programs.

The most recent reboots to be announced are a Broadway adaptation of the 1990’s television program The Nanny and the early 90’s Christmas classic Home Alone.

As I see it, both are unnecessary. As much as I dislike the overuse of stereotypes, The Nanny is a charming and funny program about a fish out of water with a Sound of Music narrative. Home Alone and it’s first sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York are outright classics. After all of these years, not only do I not only know these movies by heart, but I always have a few belly laughs while watching the films.

While I understand the reason for wanting to reboot both The Nanny and Home Alone, neither reboot is necessary. Its as if there are no new ideas in Hollywood or producers are unwilling to consider new writers with new narratives.

I have an idea. Instead of rebooting older ideas, how about giving new writers with new voices and new stories a chance? I have a few stories that I would love to see transferred from page to screen.

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