Trying to get a handle on Randy Newman and other notes, after the jump ...
Thursday niight went long. Not only was there the death of Anna Nicole Smith (a link to my column is in the post below this one), but Thursday is one of those nights when there are more shows going than one DVR can handle. As you can see, I got through "Survivor," "The Office" and "Grey's." Today I squeezed in "30 Rock' (complete with a Cleveland joke) and part of "Earl," and I hope to get through "CSI" before the weekend is out. Not sure when, though. I've got a weekend shift tomorrow and today was consumed by writing -- a piece on Randy Newman, who is coming to Akron on Feb. 18, a so-so DVD column and new-release list, some Pop Quiz questions for Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
The Newman piece was the most frustrating. I probably got to it too late, but I was struggling with how to handle it. I've been a fan for more than 30 years and I wanted to do right by him. But, because I've been a fan for more than 30 years, I had a lot of mental string to try to tie together -- while explaining to people why they should want to go to his show. I wasn't trying to hit it out of the park; a nice, unquestionable double would have been enough. Ended up feeling more like a fielder's choice, or a lucky single. Just couldn't make it work. But that's how it goes sometime. To quote some of the words I live by: A poem is never finished, it is merely abandoned.
As for that viewing, "30 Rock" had some good stuff, but also the sense that someone has decided that the characters need to be more likable -- by being more vulnerable. Especially true of Alec Baldwin's guy, sent on a bender that felt out of character no matter how much I tried to believe that it made sense. Still like the show, but I fear compromise -- especially on a night when "The Office," however uncomfortable, was fearless.