Monday, May 27, 2002

Just returned from my parents' where I got to watch TV, an unusual idea. (I don't have cable and can only occasionally pick up a couple of local channels.) Watched an episode of Friends that's the only one from this current season I've seen and one of their worst. This show invariably falls flat on its face when trying to be "serious." Doesn't help that only one of the actors (Kudrow) can handle that.

There was a jaw-dropping episode of Frasier where Frasier's assistant is temporarily replaced by a black woman who is a full-blown trash-talking stereotype. It couldn't be any more blatant if they'd given her an Aunt Jemima kerchief and a bucket of fried chicken; heck that might have been better because you'd know what's going on and not suspect the writers actually believed the stereotype. In some sense this may not be too important: For centuries comedy has thrived on stock figures and people who most complain about stereotypes would instead prefer "role models" which are just different names for the same thing. But on a show that otherwise does have carefully delineated--if necessarily broad--characters this is a stupefying lapse, especially since the show focuses on Frasier's reluctance to criticize her because she's black. At the end she absolves Frasier of his white guilt and takes a job prepared by Mr. Deus Machina.

A History Channel documentary on the disappearance of Amelia Earhart spent significant amount of time on a theory that she'd been misdirected and captured by Japanese intelligence officers at the Emperor's request. But the documentary didn't offer a single piece of evidence for this and the only report by another Japanese officer is presented third-hand. Why not just say Earhart was captured by UFOs if the filmmakers obviously don't care about reality? Especially when they criticze the perfectly reasonable and quite likely idea that she simply crashed into the oceans as lacking in "evidence." The documentary spends most of the opening on the testimony of an island woman who claims Earhart was held prisoner and later executed but again she's so blatantly lying that it's hard to put any faith into filmmakers who don't bother to point out any of her discrepancies.

A Learning Channel show on the Loch Ness monster did mostly focus on the reasons that there's certainly no such animal but still felt it necessary to illustrate stories with false recreations.


Star Wars: Episode 2: Attack of the Clones (Lucas 2002) - Too bad they couldn't clone Samuel L. and have him play every role.