Posted in England, Green & Pleasant Land, TV

The Detectorists

This is a writing challenge because I cannot say enough good things about “The Detectorists” (from the BBC). It’s simply the best television show I’ve seen in years. I won’t compare it to other TV shows I really love (or loved, because all of the ones I really loved were years ago). I won’t compare it because I don’t want those other shows to feel bad about themselves.

The Detectorists (character names: Lance and Andy) are written as ordinary people with foibles and a lampoon-able hobby. You will cringe on behalf of the main characters as they make inexplicable and poor choices, and all the while you will be rooting for them. You will chuckle. You will become privy to the language of metal detecting and the descriptions of the finds. If you’re an American, there will be things you don’t understand. Finding a ring pull from an aluminum can, Lance says, “Tizer” (it’s a soft drink). “Kestral Super” — It’s a beer, mate.

You will appreciate the camera’s long close-ups on the flowers and creepy-crawlies in the fields. The wide shots of the east Anglian countryside are calming, a welcome balm especially if you are a city dweller in need of space relief. You too will want to have a cuppa sitting under the big tree. Even if you aren’t a detectorist, there are few ways to spend a day more pleasant than being in a field under a vast expanse of blue sky.

MacKenzie Crook, the writer-director-actor who birthed the series has given us something singular and unique. Thank you, MC, for a series with heart and soul. Thank you, BBC, for letting MC have free rein. And free reign.

Pub? Go on then.

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The Ringer

Detectorists: When people find it and realise what it is, they hold it close to them


Posted in TV

Why Morning TV Sucks: A Tale of Two Women with Doctorate Degrees

No wonder people don’t watch TV much anymore. Network TV treats us like we’re dummies. We must have fast cutting clips to keep us interested. Rather than focusing on content with depth, they offer up talking heads who say one or two things quickly–then cut to commercial. I was watching The Today Show, and got disguested when “the experts” start talking about relationships. The Three-Year Itch is the new Seven-Year Itch blah blah blah.

The piece started out with an interesting bit of research by sociologist Kelly Musick at USC. “Relationships start to deteriorate over a short period of time.” If The Today Show had stuck with Prof. Musick and let her talk more about her research, it would have been very interesting. She studied couples who have been together 1-3 years vs couples who have been together 4-6 years. “There’s something that is getting in between what people want and fantasize about in a marriage, and what they actually do.” That’s something I’d like to hear about.

But no. Rather than go deep, The Today Show goes wide. A talking-head marriage and family therapist says people are used to being bombarded with stimulation, so if they’re not feeling excited 24/7, they get bored (isn’t that called ADHD?). Then the in-studio wonks spout their wisdom, which is high-school-hallway caliber. ‘Keep the interaction positive.’ ‘Remember what you liked about the other person in the first place.’

One of the in-studio wonks was Dr. Dale V. Atkins, author of Sanity Savers: Tips for Women to Live a Balanced Life. She recommended “caring for the other person, even more than we care for ourselves.” Later in the interview, she said it again, “You have to care for that person really more than you care for yourself.”

Hold up there, chief. We women know better. We’ve gone the way of self-sacrifice, of “my job is to meet his needs, and if I’m not doing that correctly, it’s my fault.” We’re waaaaaay past that now. We see how that set up gives him all the emotional power in the relationship. We value our sanity (and if he’s smart, he will too).

So we have two women with Ph.D.’s, two experts. Dr. Musick has done the research, and we get to hear two sentences from her. Dr. Atkins has made a career out of lecturing and media appearances, and she feeds us the crap that we’ve been trying to recover from for years.

Lord knows why I was watching TV for relationship advice when Johnny Lingo was waiting for me over on YouTube. Just what is my worth in cows? Thanks to Leahpeah who linked to 3 segments here, here and here.

Posted in TV

The Sopranos

I’m okay with how The Sopranos ended, and here’s why:

1. David Chase is the writer. The writer is “the decider.” He gets to decide how it ends, regardless of the usual television convention of wrapping things up in a neat package. (In most of television, the writer is not the decider. Thanks to HBO for having the guts to let the writer do his job.) It is not Chase’s job to help the American public deal with their emotional connection to fictional characters, nor to deal with their loss of a Sunday night tradition.

2. David Chase didn’t kill Tony, he killed the audience. By “pulling the plug” at that most pregnant moment, he forced us to look at our own anticipation of that moment, to fill in the blank for ourselves.

The blank said two things to me: 1) Well, that’s a wide avenue for the start of a feature film. 2) The bad guy does get away with it. Despite taking some hits, Tony is still king. Same as it ever was.

Eating out in public was Tony’s way of affirming his supremacy, and it was also a convenient way to bring out the next wave of opposition (the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming).

The timing of the blank screen was a brilliant way for Chase to challenge our assumptions about what we believe television owes us. We wanted Tony to get whacked, because that would be justice. We wanted him to get whacked in front of his family so that, even in their grief, they could finally escape their denial about Tony, escape their complicity in his crooked business.

That blank screen also woke me out of my tv slumber. Has my cable suddenly gone out? Chase challenged my own tv addiction. I was not a regular viewer of The Sopranos, but of course I watched the final show. Like the rest of America. Who wants to be left out of Monday-morning quarterbacking (especially if you’re a writer)?

That screen went blank, and I knew it was over, but I didn’t want it to be over because at some level I wanted that neatly wrapped package.

Upon reflection, that blank screen opened a world of possibility, a world of possibility beyond watching tv. I might have spent my Sunday evening reading. Or even better, writing.

Posted in TV, Writing


I enjoyed watching The View when Rosie was on it. ‘Enjoyed’ is putting it mildly. I planned my day around it. I needed to see Rosie get pissed off about the war in Iraq and say the things out loud in the mainstream media that I say to no one in particular when I’m doing the dishes. She was honest, passionate, and spittin’ mad—like so many of the rest of us.

I understand why she left the show in the first place, and why she left early in the second place, and how the split screen was the sure sign. This article by Amanda Guinzburg on the Huffington Post says it all.

I’ve gone to Rosie’s blog to ask her questions. Though I’m afraid I don’t actually ask real questions, I make comments. Some samples:

-Shouldn’t we get rid of the Electoral College? If there were no Electoral College, then Gore would have been the clear winner in the 2000 presidental race regardless of the Florida debacle. Gore: 50,999,897 Bush: 50,456,002

-Check out Project Pedal at It’s about deciding to do something you think you can’t do, then slowly but surely proving yourself wrong. It makes me cry happy.

-Don’t you hate it when you drool when you’re sleeping, and then you roll over into a previously-deposited and now freezing cold drool spot?

I even invited Jahero to my high school reunion this August in a particularly snappy piece that ended with “Go Democracy!”

I realized this morning that I’m posting questions on Rosie’s blog because I want to work for her. I want her to hire me as a writer. I want to help her develop her next gig(s), and for some reason, I believe that she’ll notice how I pack exactly the right content into my 200 characters and recognize (ah-ha style) my political acumen and quirky humor. I’ve even got questions/comments that I’ve written in advance, but I’m saving them. I’m obeying the “one question per day” request.

A grrl can dream, but I’ve clearly crossed some line. Of sanity or hope or something. Ah jeez…why am I even thinking that she needs a writer???

Posted in TV

Super Bowl Commercials

The one thing we all want to see during the Super Bowl is funny commercials. Yesterday’s batch–they weren’t funny. They really weren’t funny the first time around, and seeing them again this morning I began to think they were kinda funny…but then I realized I was just feeling sorry for the advertisers. Sure, I liked the Dove self-esteem commercial–but the Super Bowl is the time to bust out with the humor. (By the way, why did Dove use the “True Colors” song…didn’t Kodak just use that a few years ago?)

The FedEx one was okay, but do we really need to see the guy get stepped on by the elephant after he gets fired? Ouch.

The magic refrigerator one…didn’t the guy who installed the magic refrigerator notice that some of his beer was gone the last time he switched the wall around? We the viewers know there was a last time because the guy on the other side yells, “Guys, hurry up! The magic fridge is back!” So why is the first guy still thinking his revolving wall will protect his beer?

I liked the Hummer one. I liked the Hummer one because something gross like a Hummer most certainly came from monsters…monsters who think they are in love.

I almost liked the Burger King one with the dancing hamburger patty and the dancing condiments. I almost laughed when the women/objects started to make a burger. By the time woman-in-costume #4 landed on the bun, I felt sick. A pile of women on a bun is not funny. Ironically, a bunch of guys dancing in costume then piling on each other would have been funnier. But just 30 seconds long please, not a full minute.

Better luck next year, advertisers.