Sons of Anarchy


1363363851-rectifyAden Young (above) as Daniel Holden, a Paulie, Georgia man released from death row after nearly 20 years incarcerated.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/rectify-gets-second-season-order-450176

After 4 episodes of The Sundance Channel’s Rectify, we feel like we know enough about the show to know this much: after the finale of S1, which will air on May 20th, we will be pining for the new original drama’s 10 episode return in the Spring of 2014, and its subsequent renewals, we hope, into 2015 and beyond.  As long as series creator Ray McKinnon (the creepy reverend from Deadwood & the very odd lawman from S4 of Sons of Anarchy, Lincoln Potter), and Breaking Bad EP’s, Melissa Bernstein and Mark Johnson are at it with this show, there will be no rectifying what ails Paulie, Georgia, where this show is set, and its pervasive, institutional ignorance.  Paulie is a dry town, for that matter, where the attitude prevails, even in Daniel Holden’s “family”, that if a jury convicted him, he must be guilty.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2012/08/10/breaking-bad-cooking-with-classical-evil/

And that a judge has set aside his conviction due to new DNA evidence does not quite seem to matter all that much.  Not when prosecutors, politicians, and even kin are loaded with ulterior motives that range from the obvious Machiavellian ones like Senator/former DA Foulkes (Michael O’Neill), whose career has been riding on this case for years, and who now does not particularly care “where the jizz landed.”  What he does care a whole hell of a lot about though is extra biscuits, as does the new prosecutor, who, when meeting with Daniel’s lawyer about a retrial, has her secretary interrupt the meeting to bring her biscuits with her dinner, which she claims, is the only interruption she permits.  Now we know how an AMC style drama works, which Rectify most certainly is, as AMC is the parent network for Sundance, and we must say, we are very pleased at how AMC dramas play out, with the patience that most of their dramas have been allowed to exercise in developing plot.  Only Rubicon has met an early end (which was probably a good decision), and much to our surprise and happiness, even The Killing and Hell on Wheels, which are not exactly run away hits, are coming back for 3rd seasons.  We anxiously await The Killing’s premiere in early in June.

Now if you spoke to us early last June, you’d have caught us positively incensed at the slow pace of The Killing, and all of the plot misdirection, which had many in the audience miffed at how the murder of Rosie Larsen was being dragged out.  And sure, in real time, the investigation probably did not take that long, but it is indeed frustrating when every single character, basically, except Linden, was a suspect at one time or another, as it is, in a sense, dishonest production, especially when we all know that the Danish version of the show and the Larsen murder wrapped up in one season.  But given time, we have come to really love Linden and Holder, and we understand that more than the case, it is they who make the show.  So forget the other characters here for a moment, and what you might consider trite or predictable dialogue (like Hal Holbrook’s soliloquy to Daniel’s new/competent lawyer Jon Stern, played by Luke Kirby).  Daniel Holden’s character makes this series go and we see it going far because of him, and the strong ensemble cast around him and quality production team.  Do we feel the show is a bit rough and clipped in its intros and breaks and whatnot?  We do.

We also feel that they have already set up some really interesting plot points, as a story like this one requires constant setup, and that Johnson and Bernstein, if they have learned one thing from Vince Gilligan, and they have obviously learned more than that, it is the use of Deus Ex Machina, which we don’t necessarily consider to be such a contrived and ill fitting device that lazy writers use for the sake of convenience, unless they are indeed lazy writers who are using the device for the mere sake of convenience.  While the Holbrook soliloquy was just so cliche that it had us shuddering, it is no doubt the way of the world in Paulie, Georgia, which, as Daniel’s mother suggests at Daniel’s homecoming barbecue, is caught in a most onerous time warp, sadly, like a lot of places in this country, where the progression of people is markedly less evolved than even those in Maycomb, Alabama in 1930’s “To Kill A Mockingbird.”  Atticus Finch knew he had to fight for Tom Robinson.  In Rectify, Rutherford Gaines (Hal Holbrook) was hoping to get Daniel Holden life in prison.

Life imitates art, and art imitates life, and in real life, let us not act as though there is no foreshadowing as to what is to come.  Obviously there has been some overt foreshadowing here, like with Amantha (Abigail Spencer, Suits) and Jon seeing the creepy brother of the murder victim in that bar a town or two over, and abruptly hightailing it out of there.  Of course we see where this is probably going, that the creep has a twisted crush on the way hot younger sister of Daniel, and could mean her harm in a revenge sort of way for what he perceives her older brother did to his younger sister.  And then there’s Senator Foulkes and his careless affair with the trollop from the diner, which will probably get him at least emotionally extorted at some point by Daniel’s lawyer, who will most definitely need to pull out every last bit of artillery he has in order to keep Daniel on the outside.

What drew us to the show before we even knew of it was not McKinnon or the “other” producers of BrBa, but a quick preview flashed in a Sundance montage for their network, in which Daniel is pacing in his prison cell, some tiny concrete box, juxtaposed with him pacing a tiny rectangular avenue on the carpet of his bedroom, that he has returned to, and that still has the feel and decor of a kid’s room, one who went off to college and returned to it as an adult.  Daniel has certainly gotten an education, you could say, as he reveals to callous moron step brother Ted Jr (Clayne Crawford), on the golf course, telling him of the regularity with which he was sexually abused when he first got to prison.  While Daniel was somewhat at ease with the revelation, we wouldn’t call him casual.  Daniel’s reacclimation–the subject of the snippet we saw–may never happen, which makes Ted’s petty concerns about Daniel wanting his shit job at the tire shop, or even his wife, so inconsequential that you want to reach into the television and slap the motherfucker and say “grow the fuck up!”  Especially since, when Ted’s wife Tawney (Adelaide Clemens) hugs Daniel, he gets a hard on which scares the fuck out of her, considering that he was on death row for rape/murder going on 20 years and they were, at that moment, alone together in a field by some remote woods.  And Tawney is this ultra naive, chaste, bible banging moron, who basically describes how the lord fills her up, causing us to recall Eric Cartman describing how he couldn’t get enough of Jesus’s juices all over his face.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/enlightened-struggling-new-hbo-series-should-be-given-chance/

Newsflash to Ted: Daniel is inheriting the tire shop one way or another, and will probably bag the Jesus freak as well, probably right before he gets sent back to death row, as fate will likely have it.  In a certain way, this show reminds us very much of Enlightened (unfortunately cancelled by HBO), in that nothing is easy, few things work out, and the only real constant is hardship.  At the end of the day, Daniel has some very caring and upstanding blood relatives, and a whole hell of a lot of problems, and may be safer on the inside, with his one friend, a fellow death row inmate convicted of killing and raping a young girl, than on the outside.  As Daniel explained it, he made peace with death.  We count on him, however, having more trouble making peace with life.

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Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

Brooklyn’s own, Andrew Dice Clay (above), in his dilapidated Entourage living room.

So Dice was on line at the bank, and some jerkoff tapped him on the shoulder and said, ‘Excuse me.  Is this the back of the line?’  And so Dice says, ‘No, it’s the front of the line and we’re all standing backwards.  Oooe!’  It’s been a long road for Dice, and no one was more thrilled than us to see the Diceman reconcile with Howard Stern and start getting high profile gigs again a few years ago.  For Dice is our own.  We have been to the club on Emmons Ave. where it all began for Dice in Brooklyn, we’ve seen him perform and bought his records, even fell in love with the oft panned The Day the Laughter Died, and were happy to call Dice a neighbor for a short while in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn. 

So we didn’t like the first Entourage of the season, and we were right not to.  Lazy storylines about love life bullshit and powder puff rehab nonsense with Vince?  If that’s the final year of Entourage, then we walk away very unhappy.  But as we watched last week, somewhere around minute ten, the show came to life like a Volcano, at once giving resonance to Turtle and righting what had been a wayward plotline, resurrecting a jewel in putting Ari back with Dana, and showing us a more reality based side of rehab, with Kim Coates in his reprised role as scumbag producer Carl Ertz, spiraling out of control on a coke binge and in the end blowing his brains out.

We have long admired Koates and more recently, as a hard partying biker tough guy, perhaps the show’s best, on Sons of Anarchy.  It’s a guilty pleasure show for us, and not one that has distinguished itself well enough for the good or the bad for us to write about it.  Still, it’s a decent enough guys’ guy show if one can lose all connections to plausibility.  But Entourage is the guys’ guy show, and having ridden out or reversed its early season weaknesses, we were left on the edge of our seats last week, having done a 180 on the shows prospects, as we at once lamented and savored the fact that the show has 5 episodes left.

The Mrs. Gold/Bobby Flay storyline has given way to Ari’s return to the dating scene, with his initial foray on a dinner date with a pretty, easy young thing who states openly early on that she’s there “to have a good time” and that they will.  Ari, starts out of sorts and somewhat depressed before admitting that he probably will get divorced.  The young girl tells him he will get his groove back, to which Ari replies “Yeah, well Stella did.”

The actress, played by Breanne Racano (hottie), pricelessly then says, “Who?”

Entourage is and has always done a lot to illustrate the generation gap between old school and new breed, usually with mainstay Johnny Drama’s character, but now, doing so with Ari on such a real level is quite well done.  And now, to rekindle Ari’s and Dana’s (Constance Zimmer) flame, who have always had a chemistry that has frankly trumped the chemistry between Mr. and Mrs. Gold is an excellent turn for the show to take. 

Taking Turtle out of that pussy whipped nonsense around Alex, and consequently out of Avion Tequila, gives Turtle substance and also, might just have laid the groundwork for an ocean of regret, since obviously, Avion Tequila is gonna be huge.  Did anyone not wince when Mark Cuban offered Turtle financing for Don Pepe’s, that Turtle refused?  Hopefully, the lad will have a change of heart, but if not, mistakes are part of life, and the show has always been more dynamic when the characters are struggling, rather than living out every poossible perfect fantasy under the sun out in pastry land. 

Perhaps the show’s most dynamic moments were the failed Medellin project and the damage it did to Vince’s bank account and public standing, and the unforgettable conversation he had with Ari when he asked him if Ari thought he was a good actor.  Ari replied that he didn’t sign him because he was a good actor, he signed him because he was a movie star.  It’s that type of hard moment that elevated Entourage from a labored comedy with gratuitous ass thrown in for the sake of the male audience it wanted, to a show that’s really about something, and one that doesn’t always end up wrapped in a perfect bow.

We felt the same way last year with all the turbulence around Vince’s pornstar girlfriend, Ari’s marriage, and E’s new job, and the suggestion that he didn’t have what it took to do it well.  Now the show is firing on all cylinders, so soon after we were so disappointed in it.  And they’ve thrown their old school male audience a bone, giving us back the Diceman, a legend to so many of us while growing up.  Have you noticed that Dice is more perverse than ever, if not sexually, but moreso in terms of his logic, that of a borderline has been egomaniac male diva?

How about devising a way to have unearthed another favorite, Jamie Kennedy, who gets to pay homage to Dice by impersonating him in the context of the Johnny Bananas storyline?  Sticking with Entourage is paying huge dividends.  We’ve told you when it was subpar.  So listen when we tell you that you’d be crazy to miss out on one second of what little remains.

And Entourage does deserve to cash in with a major motion picture.  Who better? 

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/entourage-hbo-breaking-badly/

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

10:00 PM EST, FX.

On F/x @ 10 PM EST….

How nice it is to watch the Rangers in my own living room, playing on Versus, which has finally agreed to a new deal with Directv.  Versus is nearly priceless to us because of the 10 or so Rangers games they carry each season, but if Dr. J was here, he’d tell you about some of Versus’ other programming, like the Tour De France.  Speaking of which, is Lance Armstrong a machine or what?  We are hoping that Dr. J will take the reins for a guest column, to tell us how.  Yes, I already know, but again, Dr. J is our science guy and our Tour guy (seriously, he’s the only person I know who watches that shit), so we will patiently await what he may say about Lance, drug testing, and cycling in general.

FX comes to air with an “original” drama tonight, Justified, starring Timothy Olyphant, who is probably best known for his portrayal of “Montana” in Deadwood, and more than probably, is the sole reason for this show.  FX has pulled a page from NBC’s “knock off a popular show” playbook, under the Deadwood category.  You may remember, Kings, featuring Al Swearengen, um, I mean Ian McShane.  In today’s New York Post, TV columnist Linda Stasi called Justified a “true male fantasy show,” damning the show lightly with faint praise, if you could call it that–but with good reason–she works for the Post which is owned by Fox which owns FX.  Conflict of interest much?  And she deftly slipped in product mentions of practically all of FX’s other original dramas, probably under mandate from Old Rupe himself.

If you missed Stasi’s article, we have it here in a nutshell: blah blah blah, Justified, blah blah blah, men suck, blah blah blah, and don’t forget Sons of Anarchy or The Shield

I have mixed feelings about FX, but must say, I credit them for having made a genuine effort with their dramatic television.  Sons of Anarchy happens to be one of my guilty pleasure shows, and they have casted the show superbly.  Especially the women.  Maggie Siff is excellent as Jax’s girlfriend (NYU Tisch School of the Arts, holler!), and was also excellent as Rachel Menkin on Mad Men, who played one of the many love interests of Don “The Man” Draper (Jon Hamm).  Also, I was shocked how moving Katey Sagal’s performance is as the matriarch on Sons, in which she plays her role flawlessly.

And then there is The Shield, which is supposedly pretty good for a show about pigs, and Rescue Me, also supposedly good–for a show about thieves.  We’ve also heard good things about Nip and Tuck, and have followed the star, Julian McMahon’s career, since he first caught my wife’s eye on Charmed.

One more word about Justified, premiering tonight on FX at 10 PM: I’ll give it a try, but the veil might be too thin.  I’d have appreciated the irony in having Timothy Olyphant’s character be an old fashioned western marshal in Montana, as opposed to Kentucky, because he’ll always be Montana to me.  Anyone jonesing for the real thing can catch Deadwood on Directv channel 239 or 101.

Back to Mad Men for a sad mention.  Bryan Batt, who plays the effeminate, closeted art director, Sal Romano, did not receive a call back for season 4.  This info. was confirmed by Matthew Weiner and came to me by way of Jack Kerouac over at the Mad Men Lounge.  We are sad to see Romano go, as his storyline was most compelling, though the hand writing was certainly on the wall, considering how that story arc exploded last season. 

(Batt as the popular Sal Romano)

To end with a positive, Larry David has confirmed that Curb Your Enthusiasm will be returning for at least 1 more season, and he said that the Seinfeld plot has been exhausted, and that there will be no further references to the iconic NBC show, though last season’s plot was a definite, emphatic triumph.  If anyone can top himself though, it’s LD.

Peace,

CB