Archive | TV Matters

Jerry Lewis Needed the Applause

It’s hard to believe Jerry Lewis is really dead because he survived so many health traumas he seemed indestructible and because he’d been around since Moses so why die now? Normally I’d not comment on his passage beyond that because when you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything. (That voice alone, Jesus!) But it occurs to me that, by allowing himself to be cast as the most odious version of himself in the distinctly avant-garde The King Of Comedy, he not only let some extraordinary talent off the leash (Scorsese, De Niro, Bernhard), he created the prototype for basically half the films and TV shows we see today. Until TKOC, shows based on comics always sweetened their subject up; it’s not like The Dick Van Dyke Show showed raging alcoholic DVD blotto drunk, or The Mary Tyler Moore Show showed MTM spewing the retrogressive garbage she spewed off-camera. Would we have Louie, Seinfeld, The Larry David Show, The Larry Sanders Show, Master Of None, Funny People, Difficult People, 30 Rock–the list of meta comedies about churlish comics is endless–without Jerry Lewis as our sacrificial lamb? For better and worse, the answer is no. As he liked to point out: “He had great success being an idiot.”

Excavating Bella Abzug (and Other Leo Moons)

So you know how you fall into video clip scavenger hunts when you should be doing something else? I was really affected by the death of soulful, rumpled John Heard, whom I loved in Out On A Limb, the crazy and I mean crazy TV miniseries he made with Shirley Maclaine based on her memoir about transchanneling, reincarnation, extraterrestrials and best friend Bella Abzug. So I watched the whole series, which was even better than I remembered, and it led me to watching the feminist state rep’s entire 1998 memorial service, at which such lady luminaries as Shirley, Jane Fonda (pictured in one of Bella’s more conservative hats), Fay Wattleton, and all of Bella’s activist besties from 1930s Hunter College spoke. Continue Reading →

‘Anne With an E’ Gets a B

If you are a diehard fan of “Anne of Green Gables,” perhaps you have postponed watching “Anne With an E,” the newest television adaptation of L. M. Montgomery’s beloved 1908 novel about a Canadian orphan with notoriously red hair. Originally released by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, it hit Netflix in May, but I could not bring myself to watch the series after hearing it described as yet another “gritty, dark reboot.” Anne, I thought, should not be sullied by gritty darkness. Like another notoriously red-headed orphan (what is it about red hair and orphans?), she’s a paragon of cheerful pluck. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy