Longmire – A Television Series Review

I don’t currently stream television shows or movies so I have to wait for the DVDs to be available to watch shows.  For that reason I have just finished watching last year’s sixth and final season of Longmire.  I started watching this on a recommendation based on my enjoying the series Justified.  Well, Longmire and Justified both have protagonists that are law enforcement officers that wear cowboy hats.  I would say that is where the similarity ends.

Walter Longmire, the eponymous protagonist of the series is the sheriff in Absaroka County, Wyoming.  His best friend is a Cheyenne Indian named Henry Standing Bear played with ironic humor by Lou Diamond Phillips.  Surrounding these two characters are an assortment of characters involved in the Indian Casino opening up and the other commercial developments cropping up in the pristine countryside where Walt lives and on the not so pristine Indian Reservation where the tribal police clash or cooperate with Walt and his deputies.  And those deputies try to solve crimes and keep up with Longmire’s two-fisted and gut-feeling law enforcement procedures.  And this is one of the unintentionally funny aspects of Walt’s character.  At least a dozen times during this series Walt is shot, stabbed, snake-bit or bludgeoned and it’s almost as if he’s some kind of supernatural creature that doesn’t require normal medical attention.  He’ll get through the episode or even two and then maybe he’ll have a bandage.  Other characters can reflect the results of an injury for several episodes or even longer.  Walt just takes some vodka and splashes it on the stab wound or whatever and gets back to business.  I mean, sheesh!  What is he a Terminator?

A lot of the plot revolves around the machinations of tribal bigshot Jacob Nighthorse as he manipulates the Indian and White populations to launch his casino and change the dynamic between the Reservation and adjacent Absaroka County.  In addition, the Connally family has a big impact on Walt’s life.  Branch Connally is his deputy and his daughter’s boyfriend.  But he is also running against Walt in his re-election as sheriff.  And Branch’s father, Barlow Connally is a powerful and under-handed businessman who plays all sides against each other for his own ends.

In addition to Branch, Walt has a deputy named Archie Ferguson (the Ferg) who is not very formidable as a law enforcement officer and a Philadelphia transplant named Victoria Moretti (Vic) who does all the annoying liberated woman clap-trap but is an effective deputy and backs up Walt when things go south.

Other characters include Walt’s daughter Cady Longmire who is incredibly annoying and is a lawyer (of course) and the Tribal Police Officers Matthias and Malachi.

When the series starts Walt is recovering from the loss of his murdered wife.  Henry has been helping him track down the killer and Walt’s job is in danger from his erratic behavior.

The show moves through a very long arc throughout which characters go from being allies to adversaries and back again.  There are some surprising developments and some of the characters do grow into more interesting personalities.

On its own terms the series is enjoyable although I would not say it was great.  Some of the characters grow on you like Lou Diamond Phillips’ Henry.  And Walt is the old fashioned John Wayne, strong, silent type who lives by his own code and doesn’t even have a cell phone.

Comparing it to “Justified” I’d say the writing is nowhere near as good but far from bad.  It’s a show that can be enjoyed on its own terms but don’t expect timeless drama, just a good cowboy cop show with nice scenery.

Last Man Standing – TV Series Revival – TV Review

I’ve been watching Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing since its beginning.  I’ve enjoyed the show all along although the last two seasons’ scripts were definitely at a lower level.  Maybe they knew the series had almost run its course and the old writers had started to move on.  But what was noticeable was a less skillful plot and dialog.  And for all the angst from the left about its right wing slant the point of view was a mild libertarian stance with a few humorous jibes thrown at Obama or Hillary Clinton by Tim’s character (Mike Baxter).  And just to make sure no one thought there was an ideological problem the wife played by Nancy Travis is a Hillary fan and a fairly mild feminist.  My biggest disappointment was in the final season that only one small joke about Trump showed up in the show.  That’s how timid they were.  But all that aside, the show was refreshing because Mike was at least allowed to mostly correspond to a normal man of his generation.  He wasn’t forced to make believe he didn’t like sports and cars and guns and hunting and fishing.  He was pro-military and traditional in his ideas about gender roles and religion and unabashedly American.  He spends a considerable time on the screen mocking his Canadian soy-boy son-in-law (Ryan) but at the same time he mentors this young man on family responsibilities for a husband and a father.

In 2017 Disney/ABC was in a snit about Trump being president so they cancelled Last Man Standing, even though it was the most popular show on Friday nights and doing well financially.  Tim Allen who has been a staple of ABC and Disney for decades said he was devastated that they pulled the plug on him so needlessly.  Next season (2018), when Roseanne Barr’s  reboot of her show Roseanne featured a star that had some positive things to say about Trump and did land office business it immediately woke up some network geniuses to the fact that Last Man Standing was ready made to take advantage of that same audience.  And when Roseanne’s show was cancelled because she said something politically incorrect about an Obama administration official, well, that same audience was now available for another show that had characters they could relate to.

Because 20th Century Fox was the production company that originally made Last Man Standing for ABC it wasn’t much of a stretch for the Fox Network to consider bringing back the show and hosting it on their network.  And that’s just what they’ve done.  Boy, this has been some wind up for a tv review!

Camera Girl and I watched the show on Friday night.  It was pretty good.  They started off with a set up where the Kyle character (one of the sons-in-law) is failing to find his favorite show on tv and his in-laws throw out some lines about networks being bastards for cancelling good shows and how it very rarely happens that a show is picked up by another network unless its fans are truly great.  So, light fun, and here we go.

The show revolves around the family being split between conservatives and liberals quarreling about the Trump presidency.  But the writers decide to completely leave out Trump’s name.  Now that felt phony.  Next the Canadian son-in-law Ryan gets so stressed about living in Trump’s America without any way to address his opposition to it that he decides he’s moving his family to Canada.  When Ryan’s young son goes missing the family rallies around to find him.  They forget all their quarrels and after finding him safe they use the happy outcome to cement their solidarity and agree to look for common ground.  As is usual with the show, Mike ends the episode with a vlog from his office at Outdoorsman to talk about the importance of Americans finding common ground and there being two points of view, left and right.  He does takes one small jab by saying that “of course one of them already has the word “right” already in it.

So, there it is.  The show is back.  And it is a nice middle of the road show that stakes out a spot for a character that is an American man who hasn’t been neutered and feminized.  Is it a full-throated roar of defiance by the right wing?  Hardly.  Will it even acknowledge by name the Trump revolution?  Hopefully.  But so far, the verdict is still out.  Is it funnier than last season?  Maybe.  My plan is to watch a few more episodes and then evaluate whether I’m still going to be standing with Tim Allen’s last man.  Did you see what I did there?

The Original Twilight Zone TV Series – An SF&F TV Review

Every summer the SyFy Channel features an enormous number of Twilight Zone episodes for no apparent reason.  And every year I watch way too many of these episodes.  It’s a moral failing of mine.  I think it’s because the show was on too late for me to watch when I was young so I felt deprived and therefore overvalued what I couldn’t get.  And watching these episodes every year drives home one fact, that most Twilight Zone episodes are stunningly bad.

To be fair, there is a small number of actually good episodes.  A debate can be had as to whether there are five or ten good episodes.  Opinions and tastes differ but it’s somewhere in that range.  Then there are another twenty or so that are watchable.  The plots are predictable and the acting is mediocre at best but watchable.  That leaves well over a hundred episodes that are actually painful to watch.  Let me give an example.

In the episode “King Nine Will Not Return” a man regains consciousness next to his crashed bomber aircraft somewhere in the North African desert during World War II.  By the end of the episode you find out this is a dream this man has as a result of his feelings of guilt for missing the mission where the bomber was shot down.  So far so good.  Psychological pain, some kind of manifestation where he physically visits this time and place and is allowed to heal.  Sure, why not.  Now what is the scene?  You have the protagonist standing around in what must be the California desert yelling and emoting about his anguish for his missing crew mates.  It’s like some unscripted improvisational method acting workshop.  Five minutes in you’re heading to the kitchen to get some snack or drink just to avoid the whole embarrassing spectacle.  I found myself pitying the actor doing the scene and wondering if the experience of performing this drivel might have driven him out of acting and into some honest profession like loan sharking or leg breaking.  But every time I returned my attention to the tv screen there he was yelling and grimacing and crying.  Mercifully it finally ended and I have sworn a mighty oath to never watch that episode again while there remains any hope at all for intelligent human life to continue on this planet.

Admittedly, not all bad episodes are that horrible.  Some are just stupid and annoying.  These usually involve mannequins or robots that think they are human.  They even did this to Anne Francis in an episode called “The After Hours.”  She’s in a department store and by the end of the episode she remembers that she’s an escaped mannequin.  I think we’re supposed to be glad she’s found her way back to where she belongs.  But it’s all so pointless that you really can’t be sure.

So, most of the episodes stink, but which ones do I admit liking?  Here they are:

  1. Nightmare at 20,000 Feet
  2. Nick of Time
  3. To Serve Man
  4. Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?
  5. It’s a Good Life

And now I’ll tell you what I like about them.  The first four episodes I find comical.  The first two have William Shatner starring.  You can’t go wrong with Shatner.  He was born to act on the Twilight Zone.  The terrible dialog and nonexistent direction actually seem to jibe with Shatner’s bizarre overacting tics.  “Nick of Time” can’t compete with “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” for over the top hilarity but even in the lesser vessels the Shatnerian touch is still a force to be reckoned with.

“To Serve Man” and “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” are surprise ending stories that I can only think of as jokes.  For each, the whole episode is the set up for the reveal.  I find them amusing.  Let’s say personal preference.

And that brings us to the best and maybe the only truly original story in the whole series, “It’s a Good Life.”  The short story is even better than the teleplay but both are very effective.  Definitely worth viewing.

So that’s it.  If you’re a Burgess Meredith or a Jack Klugman fan there are a couple of episodes you can add and if you’re sentimental there is Christmas episode with Art Carney as Santa Claus that’s kind of cute.  But I’d be kidding myself if I said I watched them out of anything other than force of habit.  Your mileage may vary but this is my take.

Roseanne Barr Loses Her ABC Sitcom for Insulting Valerie Jarrett – The Left Loses Its Mind

I read the Hollywood Reporter article

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/roseanne-canceled-at-abc-racist-tweet-1115412

It said Barr tweeted, “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.”

The article continued, ‘Barr subsequently apologized: “I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans. I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me — my joke was in bad taste.”’

Wow, I was wrong about Barr she is a badass.  And it’s cost her big time.  Hey maybe Fox can let her have a show on Friday night after Tim Allen’s show.

But doesn’t this make you think that there’s something in the air.  Even Progressives like Roseanne Barr are fed up with the Narrative.  Even they’re sick of having to toe a line they don’t respect.  Roseanne may walk all this back and pay some price involving selling out blue collar people and she might even get back in the good graces (though I doubt it).  But something is definitely starting to happen.  Cracks in the dam?  We’ll see.  But the Overton Window is definitely on the move and ultimately all this goes back to Donald Trump.

Fox Revives Tim Allen’s “Last Man Standing”

So, after the success of the Roseanne revival and realizing that the Tim Allen character was also a Trump supporter and that the show had an eight million strong audience Fox which produced the show for ABC has decided to revive it.     https://decider.com/2018/05/14/fox-explains-last-man-standing-renewal/

I liked the show.  But it was already in its sixth season and the plots were feeling kind of thin.  Also most of the political shots at Obama had evaporated and the wife actually was a Hillary fan so that was pretty rough.  But I think that since they’re bringing it back on the strength of the Roseanne phenomenon that maybe they’ll amp up the Trump love and compete for the conservative voters.  That could work out very well.  Tim Allen could really get some mileage playing both sides of the Trump card.  Playful shots at the larger than life Trump persona and skillful savaging of the anti-American left would go a long way toward giving the right the kind of red meat they haven’t had from television since … never?

So, welcome back Mike Baxter, long may you vlog from your office at Outdoorsman.  And even if it only lasts for a year or two it’s the first time ever that a show came back because it was conservative.  What’s next flying pigs?

A Few Thoughts About Space Opera

After finishing up my review of Galaxy’s Edge – Galactic Outlaws, it occurred to me that there was more to say about the category of Space Opera.  Some might say that I was a little unfair to social justice fiction fans.  After all there must be a significant audience of fans with blue hair and cats who really enjoy girl power super heroes and their adventures in space.  So, to say that these are automatically bad just because I heartily dislike them might seem arbitrary and unfair.  It might seem that way but it isn’t.  And that’s because I am the final arbiter of good and bad in science fiction.  I earned this coveted status by living long enough to see everything in the world.  So, once again, all Star Wars movies after Return of the Jedi (and even some parts of them before that point) are irredeemably bad and should be cast into the outer darkness where there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  And that lines us up for me to proclaim what does make a good space opera.  What follows is:

“photog’s RULE FOR WHAT MAKES GOOD SPACE OPERA” (patent pending).

It needs to appeal to the sense of wonder of the twelve-year-old boy in you.  Now mind you, it doesn’t have to only do that.  It can also be a brilliant philosophical treatise on the dualistic nature of the universe or a psychological study of the impact of technology on the human race, or even a deathless love story written across the stars of the galaxy.  But if it fails to inspire the twelve-year-old boy in you it’s not space opera.  It may be science fiction or anything else but it isn’t space opera.  And this isn’t even an exclusive precinct of science fiction.  Any adventure story has to satisfy that same basic requirement.  Take the literature of the late nineteenth century or early twentieth century.  A quintessential example that comes to mind is Treasure Island.  Here is a story that was tailor made for the sense of wonder of a twelve-year-old boy.  It has all the earmarks of the tale of wonder.  The boy who loses his father, the quest for riches, exotic locales, colorful and dangerous opponents, the revelation of secret knowledge, the coming of age experience of the world and the people in it.  An adventure story is a story for a boy that kindles his interest in the world around him.  It leads him to think there is more to life than school and chores.  It inspires him to strike out on his own and find his place in the world.

Now I can just hear the modern women and girly men screeching, “Girls want adventure too!”  To which I reply “Stop screeching, you’re hurting my ears.”  But also, I would say that what girls want is neither here nor there.  Boys need the adventure story because it fits their brains.  Girls have been told that they want adventure stories so they want them in order not to get left out in the modern #metoo world that they live in.  And in fact, I don’t really care if there are adventure stories for girls.  More power to them, I guess.  What I do mind is that for the sake of inclusiveness they are ruining all the adventure stories that are coming out of Hollywood.  And that is why I look for good old (and new) space opera and other adventure stories for my grandsons (and for me).

Longmire – A TV Review – Part 1

Last year I watched Justified on Netflix discs. I thought it was great.  I liked it so much I bought the blue-rays and watched it again.  It was still great.    But I didn’t want to burn the show out.  So I asked around to see if there was anything else out there that was worth watching.  One of my relatives suggested Longmire.  He said it was a modern day western, a show about a sheriff in modern day Montana.  It sounded odd but I figured why not.

So me and Camera Girl have watched the first two discs. She thinks it’s great.  My reaction is slightly different.  I like the main character.  My problem is with the female characters.  Sheriff Longmire has a daughter who is some kind of lawyer.  She always seems to be whining about something.  Either her father isn’t doing something he should be or he is doing something he shouldn’t be.  It’s very annoying.  Then there’s the female deputy from New Jersey.  I thought we were done with the female cop who complains about being treated different than the guys.  Apparently she hasn’t gotten the memo.  In one scene she starts gyrating on the stripper poll at a club to get the patrons to give her information and in the next scene she’s threatening some cowboy for checking out her butt while she’s walking in front of him.  I mean, come on.  Do we have to have this nonsense in a cop show?  And there some other things.  There’s a believability thing sometimes.  In one episode Longmire threatens to release a grizzly bear on a suspect unless he confesses to using a grizzly bear to murder his enemy.  I’m not 100%  sure about this but I’m guessing that might be considered a coerced confession.

 

So there are some fantasy aspects to the plot lines in the show and the personal stories of the characters are a little shaky. The daughter I find especially annoying.  I’m hoping he gets that grizzly bear back and lets it eat her for real.  But I actually do kinda like it so far.  Camera Girl has adopted the show and I do like to keep her happy because she feeds me so I’m going to keep watching it.  If it goes completely off the deep end I will have to invoke male television primacy and call an end to it.  But I confess it’ll have to be really bad for that to happen.  It’s like Mueller.  Trump can only pull the plug on him if the damage he is doing is worse than the fallout from the firing.  Definitely a delicate judgement call.

 

So, so far, one thumb up. To be continued.  The jury is still out.

What Would It Look Like If Hollywood Tried To Give The Troglodytes What They Want To See?

The recent furor over the large audience for Roseanne Barr’s tv show and the rumor about Fox resurrecting Last Man Standing got me thinking about what it would be like if TV and the Movies produced a certain amount of product every year for troglodytes like me.  And let me try to be precise.  I don’t mean generic action or sci-fi shows where the eighty-pound magic girl kung-fu-fights her way through acres of white South African and Serbian villains.  And I don’t mean family drama about blue collar guys who clean up after a hard day on the construction site and strut their stuff on the local drag-queen circuit.

So that’s what I don’t want.  But what would I prefer?  You know, it’s been so long since there was a choice other than weirdo-liberation of the week tv that I actually have to imagine what it would be.  Well, for a start how about a tv family where Mom stays home with the kids and Dad goes to work?  And how about a family where everyone is heterosexual or even better let’s just say normal?  And how about the words gay, lesbian or trans never come up?  And imagine if there are no disgruntled minorities aggrieved about the name of the school being Washington or Jefferson?  And how about if no one forces the boys’ baseball team to add a girl to the squad for “fairness?”  And imagine if we never have to hear about “Black Lives Matter” or “White Privilege?”  Suppose gun control and hate speech are unknown ideas?  And just to round things out, if we never mention Obama, Al Gore or Climate Change I’ll be happy.

You know what was a pretty good sit-com?  “Home Improvement” was actually almost perfect.  Innocuous comedy, family warmth and chemistry between the actors playing the family.  What else do you need?  And here’s a thought, when Tim Allen already has a popular family show on tv, why not try supporting the show instead of cancelling it when it’s near the top of the ratings for its viewing night?  ABC, you are truly hopeless.  Walt Disney must be spinning in his grave.

Now as for action-adventure, just have Americans blowing up foreigners and space aliens and pretty much I’m there.  Did I mention I don’t need any sexual weirdos or racial politics?  Good.  Try to remember it and I’ll go see your movies.

But who am I kidding?  Hollywood would rather go broke than support normal values.  They have too many friends in the LGBTQ weirdo network to turn back now.  So, this whole arc must be allowed to reach its inevitable conclusion.  In a few more years when Hollywood has completely lost the normal people someone will start over with the things I mentioned above and low and behold the people will beat a path to their door.  Hopefully that will put the last nail in the coffin of Hollyweird.

1APR2018 – American Greatness – Article of the Day – The Real Resistance Emerges as the Hollywood Left Collapses by Eric Lendrum

A nice little review of the various entertainment news and events lately.  One little tidbit I hadn’t heard is that Fox is thinking of reviving ABC’s cancelled show “Last Man Standing.”  Now thqt woud be sweet.  I’ll bet Tim Allen would go out of his way to heap mockery on the leftists who demanded his show end when Trump won the White House.

The Real ‘Resistance’ Emerges as the Hollywood Left Founders

Roseanne is a Trumpite? Well, What Does that Mean?

I was never a Roseanne watcher. Whenever I did see a little bit of the show she was always berating some man for being a man and spouting some kind of blue collar feminism.  So I’d switch the channel.  Here we are twenty plus years later and Roseanne is rebooting the show to chronicle the later lives of the fictional blue-collar Conners family.  And I hear Roseanne is a Trump voter and supporter.  And they say her show has attracted eighteen million viewers.

Well, all the entertainment pundits are saying the networks will roll out a bunch of blue collar right-wing Trump loving family shows. Yeah, right.  Let’s be real.  About a year ago the only slightly positively portrayed right-wing character on television was Tim Allen’s Mike Baxter on Last Man Standing.  It was a reasonably popular show.  And because Trump was elected the show was cancelled. Do I believe somehow they’ve discovered the error of their ways?  No.  Whatever Hollywood imagines right-wing blue-collar values are will basically be Hollyweird wearing a ballcap or a cowboy hat.  I don’t believe Roseanne Barr is any closer to my beliefs now than she was twenty years ago.  The only difference is she has been left behind by the precipitous lurch toward insanity that the left’s leading edge has performed in the last ten years.  So Hollywood will churn out shows based on benchmarking  “Modern Family” as the new Ozzie and Harriet and “playfully” experiment with the exciting idea that Trump voters are unconsciously ready to embrace trans-bathrooms and indoctrinating small children into sexual perversions.

I look at this breathless discovery of Roseanne’s popularity as the usual two steps forward, one slightly slower step forward that is the default reaction of progressives to right-wing resistance. So if there is any good news in the Roseanne story I guess it’s that they at least still try to make believe they care what we think or what we want to see on TV.  Hurray for Hollywood?