TV Thoughts
Thursday, October 23, 2003
Hi. It will be at least November before I get the chance to approach this site again and see if I can dedicate the time to make it viable. Thanks for coming up to this point.

- Jon

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

You Going, Anna? You Go, Anna


Much more of a success off the court than on it, Anna Kournikova might be making a permanent move to a life outside tennis.

Kournikova, a 22-year-old Russian, told the London Evening Standard on Monday that she plans to quit tennis early next year and devote herself to becoming an actress and TV awards presenter.

That's right. Not just an actress. Actress and TV awards presenter.

Don't count me among those who worship Kournikova's beauty (above all others, anyway), but also don't count me among those who consider Kournikova a failure on the court. She was once one of the top players in the world, and anyone who can't see that her publicity had nothing to do with her tennis abilities, good or bad, wasn't watching the recent California election.

Her decision to not limit herself to acting, but actually emphasize awards presentation as a second career, has earned my respect.

"Acting and presenting are definitely things I enjoy doing," Kournikova, who was in Monte Carlo hosting the World Music Awards, told the newspaper.
Thursday, October 09, 2003


Clearly, I should have waited at least until the baseball season was over before starting this. Hope to return to it soon.
Friday, October 03, 2003

Trivia Answer

Carla Gugino guested on The Wonder Years, for which Bob Brush was executive producer.
Thursday, October 02, 2003


Where did Karen Sisco star Carla Gugino and executive producer Bob Brush previously cross paths?

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

A Sheffer Runs Through It

Things to know about One Tree Hill:
Craig Sheffer's career has been defined by two roles.

1) Norman Maclean, in A River Runs Through It, a remarkable movie, intimate on a grand scale.

2) Pretty much everything else.

Sheffer earned a fan for life after River, but outside of that film, the 43-year-old actor has spent 20 years in the business doing little better than his role as the nasty boyfriend in the Lea Thompson-Eric Stoltz-Mary Stuart Masterson time capsule, Some Kind of Wonderful.

Nevertheless, the power of River is such that when I flipped channels after the Cubs-Braves game ended Tuesday and saw his name on the opening credits of rookie WB drama One Tree Hill, I instinctively paused. The presence of two other favorites, Moira Kelly (last seen vanishing from The West Wing four years ago without a trace) and Barry Corbin (Maurice from Northern Exposure) kept me on the channel for the full hour.

Turns out, Sheffer's role on One Tree Hill is metaphorical for his career - he's still One Role Actor. Once again, the material is beneath his talent, and he's barely visible on the show at that. One Tree Hill let Sheffer on screen for just a few minutes, finding other ways to focus on a melodramatic conflict between two half-brothers in the same small town.

Central to the program is the fact that the father of the two high-schoolers, Dan Scott (Paul Johansson) is as rotten a domestic case as you'll find on commercial television. He fathered a son named Luke with a woman named Karen (Kelly), abandoned them, then fathered a second boy (Nathan), in whom he is forcefully inculcating the lesson that selfishness is the key to success. Nothing wrong with creating such a character - and nothing wrong with him getting away with his cruelty for the time being.

But like I said, he's central. Though the show is about the Nathan-Luke battle, Dan is the true antagonist. With such an obviously reprehensible character occupying such prominence, all that's left for us is to see how other characters deal with his destructiveness.

How do they deal? Uninterestingly. They brood, they fight, they have sweet talks with people they are close to. None of it is particularly surprising or insightful. There wasn't a twist in Tuesday's episode, unless you're the kind of person who doesn't expect an insecure young artist who trashes her wonderful drawings to have her portfolio rescued by a young suitor.

Well, one thing is surprising: Moira Kelly, who is 35 years old and who looks younger than anyone on, say, Friends, playing the mother of a high-schooler. Conicidentally, Kelly's career-making performance in The Cutting Edge was airing on American Movie Classics (of all places) at the same time as One Tree Hill. Maybe I didn't have enough teen pregnancy in my life, but if the two roles were both cast today, I'd say that Kelly is still better suited to play the young skater.

Kelly is game in her newest role, but as with Sheffer, One Tree Hill just makes me sad about talent being wasted.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003
We're just getting started here, folks. Here's a first entry - it's one kind of posting that I'll be doing, but not the only kind.

Kevin of Arcadia

What we learn from Joan of Arcadia:
Having almost nothing to do with the poignancy of seeing him in his first regular prime-time role at the same essential moment as his father's unexpected passing, Jason Ritter stole the pilot episode of Joan of Arcadia.

The last thing I expected to like about Joan, which will be unwatchable if it gives in to a sanctimonious tone, was the guy in the wheelchair. But Ritter, who plays Kevin Girardi, Joan's athlete older brother, was anything but. Barbara Hall's script calls for Kevin to be bitter but not embittered, wounded but not destroyed, by his lower-body paralysis in a car accident. Ritter, sporting a near-Monkees haircut and his father's eyes in a way that definitely recalls Jack Tripper, succeeded markedly in bridging these nuances.

Whether the rest of the series will live up to this level of sophistication remains to be seen. Amber Tamblyn's Joan is certainly no stereotype. Neither the most popular nor least popular kid in school, Joan clearly conveys that she has problems, fears, desires and needs before God starts showing up in the first of his suitably infinite identities. However, the premiere didn't leave us with much information about why Joan was picked or what she brings to the mission. She is mostly a pawn, asserting herself only out of confusion, rather than determination.

We can afford to be a little patient for the answers, but these questions about God's conscription of Joan are variables that could either save or curse the series, if the answers turn out to be simplistic or continually ill-defined.

Other characters bring further reason for worry. As Joan's parents, Joe Mantegna and Mary Steenburgen deliver professional performances, but their characters never inflate - serving as plot devices rather than actual human counterparts.

When Joan tells her Steenburgen's Helen, for example, about the Peeping Tom she saw in their front yard, Helen assumes for some reason that Joan is making it up. Then, later in the show, Helen is alarmed that Joan holds back from telling her that another stranger had tried to kidnap her. Why did the second incident matter to Helen when the first one didn't? Because that's what was needed to produce conflict in the scene. That's the plot dictating the characters when it should be the reverse.

The show's lowpoint came when Helen encountered a donation-collecting priest and, wrought with grief over Kevin's paralysis, asked him what God was thinking. The priest had no answer. Though I suppose it's conceivable that a young priest has thought so little about God that he would have nothing to say, it's also incredible, and serves the drama no purpose. Plenty of people have nothing to say - that's the stuff you edit out of the program, or at least assign to one of Joan's less-involved classmates.

In the end ... or should I say, in the beginning ... the show comes back to Kevin. Not that he will be the lead, not that he should be the lead, but if Hall and her staff can write the show with as much complexity as existed in Kevin's character in the pilot - the actors are certainly there to convey it - there will actually be a reason to watch. Joan of Arcadia will have its mission. If not, we'll have to place our faith elsewhere.

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