Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Won't Somebody *Please* Take Pity on TV's Senior Citizens!

For today's ultimate piece of simpering knee-jerk commentary, check out Linda Stasi's New York Post rant about Sunday night's episode of "The Sopranos" in which, among other things, Michael Imperioli's Christopher Moltisanti mugged Lauren Bacall (as herself) for a swag bag. The beating of a "name-brand senior" seems to have really upset Stasi.

It wasn't a great episode of "The Sopranos." In fact, any episode that concentrates heavily on Artie Bucco -- it's about darned time David Chase dedicated an entire episode to Artie recovering his love for pure Italian cooking -- and on Vinnie from "Doogie Howser" can't possibly be great. But the problem with the episode had absolutely nothing to do with insufficient respect for Bacall.

This episode was absolutely the best thing to happen to Lauren Bacall this year, particularly since the only other 2006 memory I have of her involved the legend's mortifying inability to read the teleprompter at the Academy Awards, a disastrous appearance that prompted speculation of senility (mostly, she just needed glasses and she needed somebody on the Oscars technical staff to help her out). In the "Sopranos" episode, she seemed sharp and funny and she looked super. Fez from "That '70s Show" appeared in the episode and nobody thought he was important enough to mug for his swag. Lauren Bacall? She's worthy of screen time. Plus, if Bacall didn't mind sending up her image a little, she probably could have turned down the cameo. This may have actually amused her.

In addition, Stasi seems to have difficulties distinguishing between behavior endorsed by the show and behavior endorsed by one particularly pathetic character on the show. What better way to show how weak Christopher was than to show the wannabe Wiseguy mugging a little old lady for a basket of freebies? One minute he's snorting coke with a whore, the next minute he's mugging Lauren Bacall. Christopher is heading on another of his downward spirals and we can expect to see a Girl Scout kicking his butt within a couple episodes.



Stasi was also probably concerned with last night's episode of "24," which saw William Devane's Defense Secretary Heller drive his car off a cliff in an attempt to evade surveillance attempts by whatever shady cabal is attempting to take over the Earth on this day. This decision made Heller's daughter very unhappy (she may also have been miserable about the stab wound she acquired at the end of last episode, but forgot within 10 minutes as "24" characters seem to be able to do with any wound that doesn't lead to instant death).

I bet Stasi's very upset that "24" would dare treat 68-year-old semi-legend Devane in such a manner. He's no Lauren Bacall, but surely he warranted a more graphic on-screen death.

But does anybody really figure Sec. Heller's deceased? As I've already noted in the comments on another blog, merely driving off a cliff into a lake isn't enough to kill William Devane. He's like a vampire or a zombie or something. Bullets can't kill William Devane either. I'm thinking he's gonna have to be decapitated on-screen before I believe he's dead.

Oh and speaking of old folks who can't be killed: Everybody should take a couple minutes to go vote on the ultimate clash of the Titans -- Jack Bauer vs. Chuck Norris. So far, the race is pretty close.

It's nearly time for Love Songs night on "American Idol." I really should get drunk first.

8 Comments:

At 5:22 AM, Blogger Alan Sepinwall said...

Stasi's still pissed because they made her into a character on the show (Lorraine Caluzzo, the whack-happy female shylock played by Patti D'Arbanville), then killed her in humiilating fashion (naked and crying for her life, after previously offering a round of BJ's to avoid a similar execution).

 
At 6:19 AM, Blogger Alan Sepinwall said...

Also, of course William Devane can't be killed. The man coached the Bad News Bears to a victory at the Astrodome, for pity's sake. He's not an ordinary human, but some kind of higher life form.

 
At 7:45 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

Be real, Alan. The year the Bears won at the Astrodome, they were a veteran squad with a lot of returning talent. William Devane was basically the Joe Torre of managers that season. He took advantage of the foundation set by Walter Mattau in the first movie. Now Tony Curtis? There was a coaching job. He took those kids to Tokyo and won with them there. He had to deal with culture shock plus, if memory serves, he did it without Tanner!!!!

 
At 8:46 AM, Blogger Alan Sepinwall said...

As I remember it, Curtis brings in a bunch of ringers to keep the Japanese team from pitching around Kelly, and the ringers play so dirty that the game ends in a brawl, followed by a sloppy impromptu game between the Japanese team and the original Bears, with the movie ending before a winner is apparent. But it's been years, and that's the only Bears movie I haven't seen more than once or twice.

And you're not giving Devane nearly enough credit. Veteran team, sure, but was experience going to make Tanner (who did play; Lupus was the one home with the broken arm) into a legitimate hitter? He taught Carmen Ronzoni how to pitch (with his groundbreaking "just throw" method), pulled the hidden ball trick to neutralize the Toros' speedy leadoff man, managed to use the entire bench and -- let us never forget -- kept the game going when the umps were prepared to call it for the Toros after only two innings. ("Let them play! Let them play!") That's some Casey Stengel-level managerial genius.

Frankly, I'm shocked Bill Simmons has yet to make a list of the best and worst sports movie coaches of all time. Devane as Mike Leak would have to be at or near the top of the best list.

 
At 9:20 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

Here's where I have to admit to the shame of never having actually seen the Bad News Bears' Tokyo movie. My argument in favor of Tony Curtis' coaching job therein would, unfortunately, be a bluff.

Nuts.

But I stand by Matthau as the superior coach. After all, he had harness Kelly's greatness, plus he had to convince the kids to play with a girl. Do you realize who they had on that team? I seem to recall that it was "a buncha Jews, spics, niggers, pansies, and a booger-eatin' moron."

I originally didn't have the quotation marks around that last bit, but I don't wanna invite characters of racism, anti-semitism or anti-booger-eatin'.

Dan

 
At 9:41 AM, Blogger Alan Sepinwall said...

Okay, Buttermaker may have been the better general manager with his additions of Kelly and Amanda to that pathetic roster, but as a coach, he left something to be desired. The whole "Kelly, catch every ball hit to the outfield" wound up pissing off the rest of the team so they didn't try as hard in the big game, and then he overreacted to that by emptying the bench and letting Rudi pitch and Lupus bat, costing them a chance at winning the big game.

And, yes, I know way too much about these movies. But still not as much as Bill Simmons.

 
At 9:48 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

But in losing the big game, they won something so so so so so much more important! They won self-respect and dignity and the right to hold their heads up high!

If they'd won, they'd have really been losers. In losing, they were winners!

And now, I have to go to two really painful junkets.

 
At 5:41 PM, Blogger Alan Sepinwall said...

"Self-respect and dignity"? Bah! Win at all costs, baby! Win at all costs!

Let them win! Let them win! Let them win!

 

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