10.10.2007

The New Fall Season

Has for most series reached the third episode as of this week. For me that means:

Boston Legal: Needs no introduction

House: Ditto

Bones: Working on it

Heroes: I've seen only one episode and it's the latest one and seeing as it's (a) Something our own Cooper wants me to start watching and (b) something a group of recently-made friends of mine are into and watch together each week in a ritual to which I have been made a party, I'm going to catch up. I have yet to analyze this in any way so I won't

Metalocalypse: Friggin amazing and brutal and hilarious and I'll actually be watching all three of this season's episodes while writing this

That it is, or at least was very recently, Tuesday night. Which means Bones, then House, then Boston Legal. But I didn't see Bones, which is usually worth watching but for some reason or another I'm not quite hooked. So, House and Boston Legal. Two leading men who I idolize. Brilliant actors both, each with an impeccable flair for comedy (Youtube Hugh Laurie and you'll see what I mean about that dude in particular, even outside of his work on House) Laurie manages this while also being an accomplished musician.

Anyways, most of the rest of this post bears a gentle spoiler warning. I doubt much will be ruined, but just so you know. Some details are being revealed

The last season of House ended with his diagnostics team departing. Foreman and Cameron resigned, and he fired Chase. The big looming question was, "what next?" And the first we see House this season he's wailing on a vintage 1967 Gibson Flying V

Fuck yes. My brother owns (and therefore I sometimes play) the custom shop reissue model based on that one and it's a sexy piece of axe that plays like a dream and sounds like angels orgasming. Or, as Brian, under whose tutelage I'm learning, put it, "This is a sweet guitar."

anyways, Apparently since his team left he's been mastering Eddie Van Halen's two-handed arpeggio technique. Cuddy isn't giving him cases, hoping he'll hire a new team, but he hasn't. So she gives him a case to prove to him that he needs a team, he eventually figures it out, but the point has been made that he needs help, so he vows to hire one. But this is Greg fucking House, so he can't do anything normally. The last shot is of him in a lecture hall tuning his guitar telling 40 prospects that he's going to build his team Survivor-style.

YES.

The crowd thins in the next episode as they solve yet another case, blah blah blah (not that it wasn't interesting but my synopsis certainly wouldn't be) and it's down to ten candidates, divided into two teams

Because it's a game to House.

Well, not really.

As is documented in the series, House either knows or believes or pretends that any attachment to a patient will hurt his objectivity. His motivation, therefore, is to solve the puzzle, and as such won't take a case unless it's going to deeply challenge him. Basically, he's Sherlock Holmes the Doctor, but we can set that aside. He's there to solve the puzzle. It's what he tells his patients, and for the most part it's true. But that would imply that once he diagnoses, he's shot his wad. And yet still he'll put his practice on the line to save lives, going so far as to swindle the transplant board into giving a liver to a bulemic CEO who would otherwise be exempt.

Which brings us back to this case. The ten are divided into two teams, each charged with finding out what's caused a paraplegic man to faint. And he helps neither.

The ethics there are amusing I find. If he knows what's going on and it's a test, then he's ethically bound to administer treatment. If he doesn't know, he should be helping. And as such, either way his boss is inclined to put a stop to the game. But House counters with an impressive contortion by not revealing whether he knows what's wrong or not. Cuddy can't compel him to treat because she doesn't know that he knows. But she trusts that he does, and therefore doesn't do anything.

And yes, I recognize fully that this wouldn't happen in real life. But it's fun. Which is actually a perfect segue into Boston Legal, and also I'm going to introduce a new term.

Han Solo Syndrome.

Remember the first Star Wars, pre-Special Edition? Han Solo is cornered by a Rodian bounty hunter named Greedo in the Mos Eisley cantina.



Like it ain't no thang. No moral scruples about shooting first, no second-guessing, etc. Han Solo, when we first meet him, is the consummate badass. If someone needs to be gone, he blows them the fuck away and does it like he's ordering a pizza. He's a drug runner; a pirate; a mercenary. The only evidence of moral scruples is his companion, who he freed from slavery long ago.

Sort of like Alan Shore in the Practice, if one accepts that I'm comparing a space pirate to a lawyer.

I actually did watch the show back in the day, but stopped before Alan Shore arrived on scene. But I've been working through the final season now. He makes a lesser impact upon arrival I guess, but like I said, different genres.

"I need a job. There was a problem at my last firm"

"what happened?"

"I embezzled. Allegedly."

And in his work in The Practice Alan Shore took no prisoners. The character was going to last for exactly a year in the show, so it was ok if he got fired or disbarred or murdered, from a narrative standpoint. Then comes Boston Legal, and he needs to continue indefinitely. So he needed to seem redeeming. Like Han Solo, he was around the good guys long enough for the good that was always in there to take over. The last underhanded thing he did was browbeat Jerry last season, and that wasn't even illegal or even unethical. He's still wonderfully sexually depraved, but the season begins with his girlfriend wanting his kid

And it's changed the complexion of the show. Paul Lewiston and Brad Chase were layered characters, but the role we first saw them both playing was foil to Alan. And now they're gone. Is it because David E Kelley recognizes that they're not needed?

Don't get me wrong. The show is still fantastic. Interesting cases, craziness, powerful lawyering-- Alan and Lorraine fucking in the elevator-- Tight shooting, awesome music excellent writing, solid plots... But I'd like to see some of that old Alan Shore. It can be a dirty trick for the greater good, if it must be. I understand. But give us something please?

That being said, this latest episode was excellent. The writers room for BL has mastered the extrapolation of issues into cases. Abstinence only sex education is a glowing example.

I don't need to restate my position on this. It's horseshit, and if I saw the people responsible for it pummeled to within inches of their lives I wouldn't blink.

As for Metalocalypse? One thing I admire about Brendan Small, who both writes and plays much of the music for the show, is his holding to the hard and fast rule that everything has consequences; even in a fantasy world where a death metal band is powerful enough an entity for a secret tribunal to be held in perpetuity to monitor it. Fans commit suicide over the lack of a new album, and willingly invite the risk (sometimes the probability) of pain and death to see a live show. Their home is technically its own country complete with an army and (I believe) its own UN ambassador.

The last season ended with an assassination attempt on the band, on an incredibly large scale. It failed, but as a result Dethklok stopped touring, stopped writing, stopped recording... in short, they stopped. As a result, the world economy is tanking and the fan suicide rate is through the roof (yes this is a constantly tracked statistic).

This show would be fantastic even without any layers. On the surface, it's "awesome" as a genre, in a way similar to but distinct from the Venture Brothers. But the entire premise, I suspect, was a thumb to the nose at the loud, overreaching paranoia merchants who declared Marilyn Manson to be responsible for the Columbine High School shootings. Every horrible thing that happens in the show is in some way an overblown version of the bad noise that parent's groups have been making about metal, the new devil's music, succeeding rock and roll which succeeded blues. Actually I'd like to see the looks on their faces while watching the show.

At least they won't think it's a bomb.

2 comments:

  1. Me thinks Alan Shore is still layered but he worked better as a character when the radical right thought they ruled America

    Yes he was more depraved but it was more fun to show a liberal you had to both love and hate--except for me--I loved everything about him

    I think David E Kelly is weighing what's happening in America right now. Picket Fences his first show on his own coincided with the rise of Newt Gingrich--and was the perfect show for the time

    I think the new managing partner will have more shades and depth--a show like BL needs time to point out each character's depravity

    Alan has always had a highly moral side. That's his problem. His morals interfere with the law--and the show needs to pick up on that again.

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  2. You're probably right. I still want to see him at least extort someone though

    I'm giving the new guy a chance. I still miss Paul

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