Monday, December 05, 2005

Greetings from Sick City

Julia picked up a bug from the ol' germ factory (aka daycare), which is why I've been too busy to blog until today.

Reading is fundamental (a fact I learned from watching TV), and Sunday night I was so absorbed in finishing off "All the Stars Came Out That Night" (a novel imagining a secret all-star game between Major League and Negro League ballplayers in 1934) that I didn't see anything but "West Wing." (Short version on that: Santos' speech was a nice piece of writing by Debra Cahn, but I thought the direction of the scene was pretty sledge hammery, especially the slow clap at the end. Only underdog sports movies should have slow claps.)

So the next morning, I was about 15 minutes into the "Curb Your Enthusiasm" season finale when my friend Phil called. Since we talk about "Curb" ever Monday morning, I quickly told him where I was in the episode. He paused and said, "Finish it and call me. Trust me: you'll need to call me." The man was right; when they cut from Larry being wheeled into surgery to Larry on his deathbed (with a brief stop for Richard Lewis in paradise), I said, "Holy shit, it's the series finale and Larry kept it a secret from everyone!" The Larry-as-gentile montage and the brief stop in Heaven weren't enough to redeem this lousy season, but had Larry stayed dead, I would have considered it one of the more perfect series finales ever. Instead, they brought him back to life and left things open for more seasons. Sigh... (In today's column, I write a little more about this, including a comment from HBO about the show's status.)

"Grey's Anatomy" is so consistent in both its goodness and what makes it good that I don't have much to say about the latest episode. That brings me to the bittersweet return of "Arrested Development" and "Kitchen Confidential" last night. I'd already seen the next three of the latter (I wrote about 'em in yesterday's column), and while this wasn't my favorite of those three, Jim's shell-shocked recounting of being beaten by the Frenchmen ("they were all smoking...") makes me laugh every time I see it.

"Arrested," meanwhile, finally, finally figured out what to do with Charlize Theron, right as she was leaving. Yeah, maybe her earlier episodes will be funnier in retrospect when I watch the DVD collection, but this was a joke they should have revealed at the end of her first episode, not her fourth. Best gags:
  • George Michael's video opening with the familiar footage of his lightsaber practice, followed by him mumbling that he should probably invest in a second tape;
  • The pixellation of Buster's stump;
  • Tobias' paralysis (and it's been so long since the last episode that I can't even remember if this was set up previously);
  • Rita diving into bed like a five-year-old after Michael promised sexual relations after the wedding;
  • The "Being There" homage at the end, followed by one of the greatest "Next... on Arrested Development" sequences ever. ("Why can't I go into the pool?!?!?!!?")
Excuse me. I have to go smear blue handprints on my walls, then wipe a runny nose.

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