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Thursday Notebook

By admin Published: May 22, 2008

This and that -- "Bones" and Jones, "Law & Order," the hamburgers of our youth -- after the jump. ...

Back when "Law & Order" returned to the schedule, I looked at the latest revamp and part of what I said was: "As an appointee whose position could be very temporary, (Jack McCoy) does not have the power base of an elected, full-term D.A., and some of the people he deals with are aware of that. In addition, he has left a paper trail of cases he has worked, which makes it very easy for opponents (including defense attorneys) to make an issue of his politics and seeming biases. That's very new for him, since he has often had a boss to shield him from the worst attacks; in one of the new episodes, caught in the middle of a political tussle, McCoy says he now understands why his old boss Adam Schiff was so grumpy."

Interesting to see "Law & Order" ends its current season with McCoy again caught up in political messes, and out of his depth. And that the troubles won't end. The Eliot Spitzer-like governor of "L&O's" alternate-universe New York has been transformed from a McCoy booster into an enemy, and McCoy's own ambitions seem cloudy -- does he really want to be a fully elected DA if the price is the endless politicking? Good stuff, even in the ripped-from-headlines plot: liked the scene where the governor's wife talks about the humiliation of standing by your man. Was a bit disappointed when she turned out to be such a shark, though, and looks-wise, Spitzer is no Tom Everett Scott.

Am wondering if there's a way to put a cone of silence over e-mails. I was late getting to "Bones," and a reader's note gave away a bit of it. Fortunately, not enough to ruin it, but enough to have me looking at some things I might not have focused on otherwise.

I have been catching up on the "Bones" books (the ones by Kathy Reichs, not the novelizations from the TV series) and am reminded how much I like the way she blends solid mysteries with the real emotional life of her Temperance Brennan. A bit soapy in spots, but still effective -- as when a friend of Tempe's fought a losing battle with illness even as they were trying to solve a case. And one of the many good things about TV's "Bones" (which, you may know, operates in a very different world from the books) is that it also can come up with intriguing cases while having the characters wrestle with personal issues and interactions.

Very good combination in Monday's season finale, and a very telling demonstration of how, well, dysfunctional some of the characters are. The wrapping up of the ongoing mystery was a springboard into a meditation on the characters in which it was perfectly plausible to see what had at times been comic traits could also be viewed as indications of disturbing behavior. At no point did it seem unreasonable to view characters that we had come to like as dangerous individuals. And the payoff with Zack was sadly fitting -- plus the show was smart enough to recognize that however heinous Zack's actions, he would not be the mastermind, but the malleable tool of someone else.

Can't wait to see what they have in mind for next season.

If you haven't seen my complete "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" review, it's here. I already made the basic points in my blog post earlier this week, but you may be interested in the elaboration.

Last night the bride and I went out for restaurant hamburgers. Not fast-food ones, although those can get you past the screaming hungries. I had a craving for something like the hamburger of my youth.

That's not my phrase. It comes from Calvin Trillin. He believes that the hamburgers we think of as the best are the hamburgers of our youth, and he's probably right. When I had this burger craving yesterday, it was quite specific. I wanted one of these burgers I used to get in this drugstore near our house. At least, I think it was the drugstore; in any case, this was in the days when drugstores had lunch counters in the back. And I can still taste that burger, rich with mustard and relish, and got close to that memory last night.

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