Friday, May 30, 2008

Mushrooms and hotels

Quiet weekend ahead. A mild inner-ear infection thingy is messing with my sense of balance so I'm going to skip the Wire show at the Seaport tonight. Dang, especially since my colleague Mike Wolf is deejaying. Come to think of it, my schedule has been oddly quiet lately. I have to admit spending way too much time catching up with a couple of series on DVD: Jericho and The Grand.

I'm only halfway through the first season of Jericho, set in a small Kansas town isolated after nuclear explosions hit several US cities, but one thing puzzles me: The people in Jericho spend a lot of time shooting the breeze at the local bar and waiting for help to arrive. This passivity is just weird—why don't they drive out or fly out (there's a small airport strip) to see what's actually happening? I'm not sure if this is a huge writing flaw or if it's a depressingly prescient way to describe how Americans would react to such a catastrophe. Are we living in such a coddled country that people would only worry about how to refrigerate their beer if a mushroom cloud went up in the next state? Don't answer that…

The Grand is a ten-year-old two-season British series set in the titular Manchester hotel right after WWI. It looks sadly cheap in that stereotypical UK-video way, which flattens everything, but the plot picks up quickly, the characters all have intricate shadings and the first season ends with a true shocker, making it easy to overlook the pallid aesthetic. The Grand is written by Russell T Davies, who's turning out to be one of my very favorite small-screen scribes—he's also responsible for the original Queer as Folk, the superb miniseries Bob and Rose (in which a woman and a gay man fall in love), The Second Coming (Jesus appears in present-day Manchester—or does he?) and the revived Doctor Who.

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