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Weekend Notebooks, Part 1 & 2

By admin Published: August 18, 2007

My review of "High School Musical 2" is here. My review of "Superbad" is here.

After the jump, Barry Corbin, and the perils of magazine deadlines ... and a new part 2, with "Damages," "Mad Men," "Rescue Me" (so beware of spoilers if you haven't caught up)...

Barry Corbin finally appear as Brenda's father on "The Closer," and what fun it was. He is such a solid actor, able to play the comedy and drama in a character, sometimes within the same scene. He can, as he did on "The Closer," intimidate another character (in this case, Fritz), then make it a joke -- and still make you remember the intimidation even as he is smiling. All that, and him playing off both Kyra Sedgwick and Frances Sternhagen. TV heaven, dropped in a sturdy episode. (The elevator scene!)

Talking to some of the "Closer" fans around my office, though, reminded me of the varieties of viewing habits. They were surprised to see Corbin's bald head, since they remembered him in the main from "Northern Exposure," where he had hair. But I;m sure there are other viewers -- like my bride - who think of him the way he looked on "The Closer," because it is close to the way he looks on "One Tree Hill."

I made a magazine run last night, mainly to check on the Allure and OK! pieces about Britney Spears. (This is, after all, part of my pop culture mandate.) And while doing so, I began thinking about an item for tomorrow's HeldenFiles, probably to be called "Fun at the Newsstand."

And what was that fun? Well, there was Lindsay Lohan on the cover of the September issue of Elle, with the quote "I'm glad I went to rehab." But, as the magazine notes in the article, it's from an interview done just before her Memorial Day disaster, and the ensuing trip to rehab (which are at least described in the text with the interview) -- and therefore well before her most recent troubles and her current reported stint in a Utah facility.

Then there's the Summer 2007 issue of In Style Weddings. Jennifer Morrison of "House" on the cover. Lovey-dovey pictures inside of Morrison and co-star/fiance Jesse Spencer. Description of wedding plans, discussion of The Dress.

They called off the engagement this week.

Part 2: I've been doing some catchup this weekend, for the past week's "Damages," "Rescue Me" and "Mad Men." I also have a couple of upcoming "Mad Men" I may get so, although our Viewing Of The Day is the forthcoming DVD of "Heroes."

I'm still watching "Damages" because I keep expecting it to get better. And every now and then there's something I like a great deal, like the look on Ted Danson's face when he talks about the cost of shipping a grenade. But I still think it's mainly implausible melodrama, and a clunky one at that. The time shifts from the present day (post killing) to the past (case in progress) and even to the deeper past (Florida) are just distracting; once the killing was established in the first episode, it should have settled for a more linear narrative from the case to the present day. The everybody's-got-secrets subtext is overworked, too, mainly because the secrets so far just aren't that interesting. But Glenn Close is growing on me, her behavioral tics seeming more understandable -- at least, if we accept the idea that she is crazy as a bedbug. "Damages" has come one of those big potboiler novels that I'm determined to finish, even if doing so isn't all that enjoyable.

"Mad Men," in contrast, is just plain terrific. It also involves a world full of secrets, in particular those of Don Draper (the superb Jon Hamm), who has changed his name and abandoned his old life -- including, we now know, an adoring younger brother. The story of Don and his wife Betty (January Jones) by itself is enough to carry a pretty good show, but the weaving in of other characters and stories remains strong. And unlike "Damages," where I feel as if I'm constantly having to fit someone new into the fabric, "Mad Men" does not overburden us in a given week by trying to tell too many stories.

Then there's "Rescue Me." For a moment this week, it had me -- in the scene where Tommy is sitting on the rooftop and talking about what it means to bury your child. coming after we've gotten to the depth of Mike the ex-probie's pain. There was also the sheer amusement of the looks on Lou and Franco when they finally see what the new chief has been rumored to have. But I'm still not feeling that great old "Rescue Me" vibe. The intervention scene never quite worked. The baby-kidnapping -- or was it a baby-un-kidnapping? -- felt fake. The Gina Gershon scene, pointless. More and more this seems like one of those shows that had a season or two of greatness and now just can't figure out how to quit.

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