Feb 16, 2007

A Big Steaming Scoop of TV

I have been so busy that I haven't even been able to try to post lately. There have been several different things I wanted to post about, though. All of them have to do with TV, so I am just going to condense them into one huge delicious serving of TV prattle.

I wanted to do a live blog for the Grammys. But I completely forgot that it was even on the air until it had started. We went to a small group for our new church (oh yeah, we found a church - woo hoo - check it out here) and when we got back the show had already started. From what I read, I didn't miss much. I hate the Dixie Chicks, so I wouldn't have enjoyed the huge party everyone threw for them. I've lost a lot of interest in the Grammys. Most of the awards are given away before the show itself - and the whole things just feel bloated and out of date. Speaking of out of date....

I do plan on doing my second annual Running Oscar Blog this year. I still have not posted my much-anticipated scathing Oscar Nominee Reaction yet. That WILL happen, and you WILL be stunned - perhaps even moved to action. Speaking of action....

The other day, I was talking about the show Heroes. I made the statement, "It is better than Lost." At that point, Lost had not returned from its lenthy hiatus. I think both of them are great shows, but Heroes does something that Lost had forgotten how to do - provide answers. Every week, Heroes leaves us with mysteries and head-scratchers that contribute to the long-term existence of the series. But there is also a lot of payoff each week. It is kind of like a comic book (funny, that). Each issue has a lot of payoff and action, but also leaves bigger unanswered questions. Lost had gotten to the point where there was very little payoff each week - just more mysteries.

Until last week. I guess Lost heard all those comparisons and decided to punch the doubters in the mouth. The last two episodes have been as good as anything in Season One. I had honestly forgotten just how good Lost used to be - before it started to buckle under the weight of its own hype. When Lost is at its best, it is the best show on television - the best acting, best writing, best spookiness. Last week's episode was amazing - and it featured the most brilliant additions to the cast (Elizabeth Mitchell, Michael Emerson, MC Gainey). This week, Lost was back to the old-school Season One mind twisters. The ending of the episode leaves you reeling, trying to figure out what just happened. And it wasn't one of those "let's throw some twisty junk in here at the end so we can hype the last five minutes." The whole show was twisty and turny and crazy - and it built on each other until the last five minutes ties it all together into a monstrous "What the heck?" moment. And it featured the other great addition to the cast (Henry Ian Cusick). So I take back my comment. Speaking of taking back comments....

So, it finally happened. Ever since that Ameche guy came out as the first gay former basketball player who never mattered when he played, even when he played for Orlando, the media has been waiting for someone to trip up. They have been trotting past, present, and future players past the microphone, hoping SOMEONE would say something inflamatory. I was listening to the Dan Patrick Show on ESPN radio the other day and he had Rip Hamilton from the Pistons on. Patrick based was baiting Hamilton into making a comment. Rip said he would be okay to play with a gay player, as long as the player played well and contributed. Dan kept pushing, saying, "Come on, it wouldn't bother you? Not even a little bit?" It was ridiculous.

So, Dan LeBatard (fills in for Tony Kornheiser on PTI all the time) has a radio show down in Miami, and he drags retired Tim Hardaway in front of the mic. Hardaway was always outspoken while a player, so he was a good pick. And BAM, he goes and makes all these comments about how he hates gays and doesn't think they should be allowed in the NBA or America. LeBatard acts all horrified and says, "That's awfully homophobic and discriminatory." Hardaway keeps going. Now it is huge news. The NBA has banned Hardaway from any All-Star Game activities. Commissioner David Stern has disavowed the comments. I'm sure this will even come up when Hardaway's Hall of Fame candidacy comes up. "He was a great player, but he hates gay people."

And then Hardaway apologized, just like Isaiah Washington before him. And I'm sure that Hardaway will now meet with major gay groups and go to therapy also. That's what I don't get. Hardaway obviously feels this way - why is he now acting like he doesn't? No one believes that he was misquoted or anything. They all know that he is just trying to repair his image. The other thing is, do you honestly think he is the only one who feels this way? Get real. Out of all those athletes, the only homophobic one is a retired guy? No, he was the only one stupid enough to be honest about it. I've been around athletes before, and they are the most homophobic people out there (well second to church people). And you want me to believe that all of these sportswriters who are acting so offended by the comments are all above reproach in THEIR opinions? Sure, some of them I believe are not like Hardaway. But I bet there is a huge chunk that feel exactly the same way. I think about our local sports stations, and I severely doubt that the guys on there are perfectly accepting of gays - but they will trash Hardaway to no end over those comments. The more that media influences sports, the more that players have to be just as worried about their public image as their skills. It won't be long until we hear the pre-draft assessments of players go like this, "He's got tremendous upside. He's long and has a huge wingspan. He can shoot from the perimeter and has great court vision. He also is quite composed in interviews and looks good on a poster. He cut his cornrows to be more appealing to White America. And he has never said anything stupid on tape. High first round media potential." Speaking of potential...

I could make an argument that American Idol is the best show on television. I may even do that at some point. There is no denying that it is wildly popular. I think part of the trick is that it is always changing gears and shifting. The first part is the audition - which is almost like a variety show with tons of comedy. They it shifts to Hollywood for the first round of cuts and the Round of 24. This is dramatic, like a reality show - with some audience participation. The last part is the Round of 12 with the Finalists. This is the week-by-week eviction like Survivor. Plus the show is fun and you get to hear music. And it is insanely clean. There is no cursing or sex. The worst that pops up is if one of the contestants wear an immodest outfit - but they are off the screen in a few minutes, so no big deal.

This year is is going to be more exciting that ever. There is not one person who jumps out in front like Ruben or Clay or Kelly did. But there are a lot of engaging people. There also is a ton of diversity this year - more than ever. Two of the front runners are overweight singers with incredible personalities. Seven of the 24 are African-American, one is Asian, one is half Filipino/half Portugese, two are Hispanic, one is Indian. Half of the group is from a minority group - which is cool because they all bring different takes on the music. The Indian guy sounds like Stevie Wonder. One of the contestants' dad played in the NFL, another's dad was a popular musician in the 50s. I can't wait for the real competition and singing that starts this week. Good stuff.

I'll be back with more soon - hopefully I'll get the Oscar stuff posted. We have State Student Conference this weekend and a conference in Tennessee next week. Defender is speaking at both, so I am trying desperately to get everything finished. See you all soon.

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