July 22nd, 2004

bitch by alanator

Am I just that shallow?

Recently I read Blankets by Craig Thompson (well, to be absolutely precise, mostly read with some skimming). I know quite a few of you have adored this graphic novel. I found it to be one of the most overrated and self-indulgent graphic novels I've ever experienced.

What were my problems with it?

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This is the second Craig Thompson book that I've read, and at this point I feel it's safe to say he's just not for me. Yet I can't help but feel like I'm missing something, that if I were a little bit deeper I would get it and love it... But there it is, for what it's worth.

For a more nuanced look at life in a small town in the middle of nowhere, I'd recommend The Waiting Place by Sean McKeever. Excellent.

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Now that I've ranted about something I don't like, let me rave about something I do like.

Did anyone catch the premiere of Rescue Me last night on FX?

I kid you not, I think it could end up being the best show this decade.

Rescue Me follows Tommy Gavin (played by Denis Leary, who also co-writes), a New York City firefighter who bellows at a bunch of fresh-faced recruits that "I ain't no hero" and means it. He's fallen off the wagon since 9/11, is spying on his soon-to-be-ex-wife during her dates and is haunted -- literally -- by those he couldn't save, most notably his cousin Jimmy, who was killed at Ground Zero. As you can imagine, it's heartbreaking.

But it's also funny.

I'll give you one example. All that was found of Jimmy to bury was his finger. When Jimmy shows up in Tommy's living room, his finger is duct-taped back on and he's bitching that it would have to be "my beer-opening finger."

I'm sure you're probably wondering what kind of taste this show is in, and for that I'll reference James Poniewozik's excellent article for Time:

"Rescue Me may sound disrespectful on paper, but really it's the opposite; it respects the characters enough not to patronize them or soft-pedal their sarcasm, flaws and political incorrectness."

Poniewozik also accurately describes Rescue Me as "a sort of post-9/11 M*A*S*H." True, but I was lying in bed last night afterwards when I realized which show it was reminding me of:


If you know me, you know that's pretty much the highest praise I can give a TV show. And why am I giving it? Because Homicide presented cops with their flaws and all, and it made them all the more wonderful because they weren't cookie-cutter saints. They were real people. (Especially in my head, where Munch and Kay are enjoying a nice candlelit dinner right now... but I digress.) Rescue Me does the same thing. I've always considered Denis Leary an underrated actor, but here he gives the performance of his life. You want to smack Tommy and hug him all at the same time.

Once again, FX is showing that all the really good shows are on cable now, and it's not just because you can get away with more cussing (though admittedly it helps with the realism). It's because cable is willing to take the risks, try stuff that doesn't fit the formula, give the creators freedom to follow their visions.

If you missed Rescue Me last night, look for the reruns on FX. Trust me folks, this is going to be big.
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TV Underground

Okay, I've finally caved from peer pressure from my dear cousin ariedana and posted to her group blog, TV Underground. The synfeed (of course it has a synfeed)'s at tvunderground for your convenience. I posted a slightly more polished version of my Rescue Me rave. (BTW, Dana, we need a drama category.) We're really excited about this little project of ours.

I'm waffling, though. I posted under my real name, and I'm wondering if I should post under Kellinator Jones instead.
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My brain hurts.

I feel weird writing raves of stuff instead of rants. I think one of the reasons we talk more about the things we hate than the things we like is that it's much easier to bitch about something than attempt to do justice to something you love. I'm worried that these write-ups sound cliche. Oh well. Someone's gotta write them...
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Frank and Tim by logand

Gotham Central: The best comic you're not reading.

There's a reason I picked that title for this post. TV Guide once named Homicide: Life on the Street "the best show you're not watching." And Gotham Central is Homicide's heir -- just in comic book instead of television form. (The terrific Greg Rucka, who co-writes with Ed Brubaker, even assured me at last year's DragonCon that Det. Crispus Allen is "a low-rent Pembleton." Though be assured, there's nothing low-rent about him -- Greg's just modest.)

Seriously. Imagine Homicide set in Gotham City. It's got all the gritty detective work, the gallows humor, the squadroom banter -- plus all the complications that come from being police in a city where, thanks to Batman, everyone considers you incompetent and an afterthought, and where you deal with criminal masterminds who are just going to get sent to Arkham Asylum for milk and cookies anyway. It takes a special breed to do the job, and Gotham Central features numerous wonderful characters to go with its tight plots. The foreshadowing and small hints that turn out to mean something big are wonderful and make reading it an even more rewarding experience.

If you love cop shows, you owe it to yourself to check out this book. The first graphic novel is now available, and it's good, but the comic really started hitting its stride with issue #11 -- a look at the squad from the point of view of Stacey, the civilian employee whose job it is to turn on the Bat-Signal (the cops themselves can't do it for liability reasons) -- and the next story arc, "Soft Targets," which featured the Joker terrorizing Gotham as a sniper killer and featured an amazing, heartbreaking final issue that was both a wonderful tribute to Homicide and completely its own self at the same time and left me too keyed up to sleep for hours. The current storyline, "Unresolved," is just as good and features the return of Harvey Bullock. There! Now will you read it? If you're a fan of Renee Montoya or Josie MacDonald from the other Bat-books, they're here too.

Gotham Central also offers something rare -- a very nuanced look at what it must be like to know that no matter how well you do your job as a cop, you'll still be second-place behind Batman, and you're not even sure if he's on your side. (That's probably the real reason it's not Code-approved.)

If you like cop shows, Batman, or just damn good storytelling, read Gotham Central. You won't regret it.
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