And dad is on TV again

Over the years, in his position as a senior Psychiatrist, Dad has been called by channels on various related programmes and appeared on state and local TV. This evening, I switched between PV Sindhu’s brilliant Rio semi-final victory and Dad’s interview on a Mangalorean news channel. The live streaming helped and I thought I would chronicle this moment. So here is a screenshot capture of the show that tackled the topic of addiction.

daijiworld

Pax Americana

The Sopranos reaches its pinnacle in Season 6. Truly. Two episodes down and with the Jersey Godfather comatose, you have his shadow loom as large as it did when he was  active. Tony Soprano’s dreams during this time make for a compelling story as he shifts from situation to situation in a travelling salesman avatar. Never have dreams been so engrossing on screen. In the outside world, the burning never stops, nor does the rush of the mafia struggle that takes place clandestinely as various players throw their hat in the ring to take over from the ‘boss’.

This series has lived up to everything it stood for. The unapologetic violence, the unpretentious swag of the Jersey mobs, the loyalty and betrayals and above all – family. Episode 2 of the last season is a wonderful narrative in the stream of consciousness. It could be a tribute to Don Sopranos Psychiatrist too. It weaves from reality to the ‘other world’ seamlessly, giving away few secrets as the characters move ahead. The ending solidifies the goosebumps you feel throughout the episode and with the hauntingly beautiful ‘When it’s cold I’d like to die‘ playing from Moby‘s soundkit you have one of the most beautiful episode closures in this saga.

 

Discovering Tom Rosenthal through Morse Code

Inspector Endeavour Morse is an unlikely promoter for singer Tom Rosenthal. It all began with a trailer on ITV that showcased Endeavour, the new series on the Inspector Morse books by Colin Dexter. I have read a couple of books from the Inspector Morse series and while interesting they didn’t captivate me the way Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle or G.K. Chesterton did. However the series, Inspector Morse, that ran in the late ’80s and throughout the ’90s was driven by good solid British acting and a tight storyline that was suspenseful and dramatic. Endeavour-Tom-Rosenthal

Endeavour brought back memories of the old series and with its ’60s setting it looks real mean and dark. There is accuracy to detail down to the ’60s stockings, from what I saw on the trailer. It features Inspector Morse in his younger days as he works himself up the Carshall-Newton PD ladder. I have only seen the trailer but it holds a lot of promise and interestingly came with a haunting soundtrack that led me to Tom Rosenthal.

A bit of Googling and I come across this body of work that is beautiful in a folksy kind of way. While I couldnt find the exact trailer that held this song, I came across the direct works of Tom Rosenthal and information on this unique singer who prefers playing it low. His simple ballads are rendered with minimal instruments and the piano work on “It’s OK” is goosebump -worthy. The earthiness of these ballads belie the dreamy feeling that sweeps over. If there was a case to crack, the mystery of Tom Rosenthal’s low profile would surely be it. And one more thing, he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. Come on!

 

Don Draper & the depressed men

Moving towards the finale of Mad Men Season 3, I do sense that we are seeing the breakdown of the character of Don Draper. From the cold creative genius with a highly logical and sophisticated bend of mind, we are now exposed to the emotional patriarch who is struggling to bring his family together. However, he has not lost that risky touch in his personality that has nearly got him exposed time and again.Jon Hamm as Don Draper in Mad Men

Season 3 continues to enthral, however a casual fact that I noted was the intensity of suspense that was levelled specially towards the end of the season. I see a slight shift in the writing strategy, moving towards suspenseful endings that may be closed in the next episode or later on in the series as the situations move from one characters personal environment to another. Saying this, it still does not dilute the essence of the show and does bring in some tense moments for the viewer.

The season endings in Mad Men are never explosive and considering the fact that there are major shift in the timelines, every season is a natural continuation of the last. Keeping with Don Draper, I watched Jon Hamm on Conan and the banter between the host and Mr. Draper turned towards the rumour that Hamm was supposed to play Superman in the next instalment of the series. Considering the fact that they were planning to put together an older version of the Man of Steel, this version did not hold good with the studios and was eventually scrapped. Pity, this would have put a whole new spin on mid-life crisis among superheroes and Hamm would have made an ideal Clark Kent with his almost handsome nerdy looks and the build to match.

Sticking with TV serials, Dexter makes its way to Star World, but it would be a pity to watch it on this channel considering the fact that most of the dialogue would be bleeped and critical but graphic scenes would be edited out by the good people at our censor board. Doesn’t make a difference anyway since I am up to speed with Dexter’s latest ‘projects’ as he keeps the blood flowing.

Valentines Special – The Walking Dead

The Walking DeadI watched the repeat telecast of ‘The Walking Dead‘ today on Star World. My first tryst with this series was when I read about Frank Darabont making this unique series based on a monthly comic book. Now I respect Frank Darabont for the movies he has made, the last being ‘The Mist‘ that shocked me with its twist ending and the shock was smart, clever and brave.

Now back to ‘The Walking Dead’. You have this Sheriff’s deputy wake up from a coma brought about by a gunfight. And then you have zombies all over the place. Taken in by some survivors the deputy then sets out in search of his family. The series includes the familiar and beautiful face of Sarah Wayne Callies who played Sara Trancedi on Prison Break. The zombies are pretty creepy and are accurately depicted (as per generalised impressions).

The most unsettling moments are the ones where the survivors make their way through the towns, cities and rural America – areas that are usually full of life but now remain desolate and are falling into ruins with the zombies being the majority here.

For all its violence and blood letting, ‘The Walking Dead’ is a thrilling drama and the premiere definitely set the tone for greater expectations as we go ahead. Being on a series trip (the others being Mad Men and Dexter) I believe there’s a stirring revolution happening on the small screen. There is some brilliant work coming out from US cable TV and there are more stories to be told on this medium. Here’s to TV and may the best roll out. To think I cursed this same medium some months back…

The madness, the madness…

Mad Men. Sexy, suave, smart and the confidence to boot – that’s the nature of the men down Madison Avenue in sixties New York, amidst the creative squalor of a decade that encapsulated a decadent culture and the need for more. Having heard the ooh’s and aah’s from the entertainment critics of US cable TV, I tried my hand at watching Matthew Weiner‘s Mad Men, backed by the pleasant experience of watching Dexter Morgan butchering vermin over 5 seasons.Mad Men

Two seasons down and having watched an entire season in one go over the weekend, that would give a fair idea of where my loyalties lie when it comes to taking a stand on the ad execs at Sterling Cooper.

Mad Men is a showcase of the lives, times and cultural ethos that enveloped America in an era of spiritual and sociological turmoil that would further be exacerbated by the Vietnam War. The spirit of capitalism was at its peak and a Stepford society was never too far for the ‘modern’ family of this time.

Mad Men simply takes these cultural and counter-cultural references and incorporates them with enough dramatic licence to build a solid case for the rise of individualism. With strong characterisations backed by brilliant acting and a script worth its weight as emphasised by network ratings, Mad Men has well and truly enamoured me enough to ‘order’ the third season.

Highly stylised without losing its essence, Mad Men revels in its characters. Every smirk, raised eyebrow, catcall, every bit of sexism and political incorrectness that was suitably ‘justified’ in that decade is delivered with the right mix of realism and drama. The incorporation of elements that we know as pop culture phenomenons adds to the smartness and the flexible reach of the show.

And then there’s Don Draper – the morally ambiguous protagonist of Mad Men who besides being the Creative Head of the agency, finds time to womanise, hide his past and be the family man that every American women worth her Stepford badge aspires for. Jon Hamm is simply brilliant in the role that has defined his star power in Hollywood. The supporting cast stands out as well with an impressive turn by Colin Hanks as the good padre. I always thought he was in Hollywood cause of his papa, but I guess he is justifying his presence nowadays.

As Season 3 makes its way to me, I shift back to the time when I thought ‘Lost’ was cool and ’24’ really kicked ass. WTF Mad Men does all this and more without raising a finger, save Don Draper’s fists of fury against a sarcastic comedian who may have been responsible for breaking his family.

Here’s to the men on Madison Avenue, especially the Sterling Cooper gang. I love the womanising, the drinking, the smoking, the selfish genes. You guys have really made an impression on me.

Dexter – ‘The Big One’ gets a fitting finale

There was the familiar tension that determined Dexter‘s fate over so many early episodes of the series. And when death comes calling on Dexter you can be sure he is not too far behind, especially if Death is in the form of a cool, smart talking, motivational guru with the slick character and heels of a well groomed corporate con as in Jordan Chase – Dexter’s nemesis in Season 5.Dexter-Morgan-Season-5

Episode 11 of the season left off at a cliffhanger with various ends precariously placed and involving various characters in the series. The finale (episode 12) offered reasonable resolution that gives rise to a much anticipated season 6. I say ‘reasonable’ as I hold back complete praise for this season due to the fact that Julia Stiles’ character really pulled it down. I don’t know if it was bad acting on her part (or maybe Michael C. Hall‘s Dexter is so convincing that a Deux Ex Machina would fall flat anytime here), but Lumen Pierce as portrayed by Julia Stiles, got on my nerves on more than one occasion.

Julia Stiles is not known to be a hammy or bad actor. There was enough of drama in the character she essayed here, but something still didn’t feel right about her being there. It could be that too much emphasis was placed on her character here or the nature of her character clashed with the solitude of Dexter Morgan. Well, for all I know enough of loose ends were tied up at the end, but there are still some niggling doubts as to what Dexter may have to face when he starts off next season. Too many close calls this season may take their toll on him… or will they? Can’t wait for Season 6.