Help for tired, listless and run-down folks

Just received my new TV Guide with an ad for the “first ever” “I Love Lucy Vitameatavegamin Doll!” The 14-inch “poseable” doll wears blue gingham and pearls, speaks in Lucy’s own voice, plays the “I Love Lucy” theme song, and is endorsed by CBS and Desilu, too.

Only $129.99!Lucy



“Mercy Street” PBS flop

Mercy me–“Mercy Street” on PBS is truly awful. I started watching out of boredom and continue to hope (obviously against all odds) that this sorry mess of a Civil War tale will improve. A few of my complaints: the terrible and inconsistent accents, turgid dialogue laced with 21st century expressions, the ill-fitting costumes and wigs, the dime store fake Victorian jewelry, even a buzz cut on the actor playing a preacher, Gary Cole’s unkempt hair and beard, and bad casting choices. A completely lackluster production.

New fall TV shows

Up from the depths: placed our 95-year-old mother in an adult family home after a series of health crises. She loathes the place, is filled with rage, and not speaking to me. It’s been a fun-filled couple of weeks around here.

The PBS three-part series “Breathless,” was a “Mad Men” wannabe but had some great moments, especially the scene with the menopausal wife of a cheating spouse whose doctors give her short shrift: pumping her full of hormones and anti-depressants which make her bonkers. What she really needed was a divorce and an affair with a much-younger man.

Love the new season of “Good Wife” with its great scripts, wonderful acting, and Margulies’s and Baranski’s fabulous costumes and jewelry.

I started watching the dreadful “Madame Secretary” because of my fondness for Téa Leoni and Tim Daly, and then kept at it. The only explanation I have is that Channel 11 took “The Closer” off its 8 PM schedule.

Not only is Ms. Leoni wrong for the part, several of her supporting cast members are really smarmy (the kid who plays her son; that perpetual bummer dude Zeljko Ivanek; creepy Geoffrey Arend and his equally creepy cohort Patina Miller) and the scripts are insipid. Naturally, it’s a hit!

Speaking of unbelievable scripts ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder,” is another inexplicable hit. I’m only hanging in until they reveal who killed the husband and why. Fast forward please—put me out of my misery!

As for PBS: I liked the new, albeit very short season of “Inspector Lewis” but, as sacrilegious as this sounds I wasn’t very taken with “Death Comes to Pemberley,” a Masterpiece Theatre two-parter that aired last night.

While it was fun recognizing the actor who plays an ADA on “The Good Wife” and the actress who played Doc Martin’s inept substitute as Darcy’s housekeeper, disturbing images of Matthew Rhys in “The Americans” kept surfacing. I had to tune out of “The Americans” and “The Bridge” because of the high level of smut and violence that my fragile soul couldn’t handle.

However, I’ll probably watch Episode II of Pemberley (by the way I couldn’t get into P.D. James’ book either) because I must find out whodunit.

Glad those darn “Roosevelts” are over

Fourteen hours was too much, although most of the PBS-Ken Burns‘ series was fascinating and made anyone who had a good childhood rejoice. My attention wandered around episode six. Kept wishing Eleanor had discovered quality foundation garments early on but maybe she didn’t have time to squeeze into a girdle or get fitted for a decent bra what with her constant “gallivanting” as the Republicans liked to say.

Astonished at FDR‘s lifelong philandering although easy to see why women were attracted to him…what a dynamic personality!

Really related to Eleanor’s struggle with FDR’s odious mother and loved the bit about Eleanor attempting to wash lettuce!

Perhaps I was taking a quick break and missed it, but I didn’t hear any mention of T.R’s namesake the teddy bear, nothing about the Marian Anderson debacle, nothing about how much investment money FDR lost during the Great Crash of 1929, not enough about what became of all the Roosevelt children from both families, no follow up on whether Eleanor ever forgave her daughter Anna or spoke to the cruel woman who spilled the beans about who was there when FDR died (uncalled for meanness!), and absolutely zip about whether or not FDR was still able to have intimate relations after becoming so ill at age 39 from what they thought at the time was polio.

Liked most of the voice artists, although I sometimes had difficulty understanding Meryl Streep as Eleanor Roosevelt.

Farewell Jimmy–actor James Garner dies

One of my all time favorite actors (and millions agree), James Garner passed away of natural causes at the age of 86 this morning at his home in California.

James Garner
James Garner

Fat chance

Read Karen Valby’s essay in defense of Melissa McCarthy in Entertainment Weekly’s July 4th edition and while it’s great to rail against McCarthy’s mistreatment by the media over her obesity I’ve never understood why anyone with wealth would choose to be so overweight. You recall my disgust at Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s inability, despite his vast wealth and resources, to seek help for his drug and alcohol problems…well, same goes for McCarthy. I don’t think Internet trolls and film critics should dwell on McCarthy’s obesity in such cruel ways, but if I had her dough I’d check into a weight loss spa pronto.

History Channel botches “The World Wars”

History Channel’s recent “The World Wars” 3-part series was a disappointment.

The actors chosen to play Hitler, Churchill, Mussolini, FDR, Patton, and MacArthur looked and sounded nothing like the real thing (right down to eye-color and physical demeanor) and when they were supposedly middle aged they looked too old, with the exception of the cardboard figure playing Stalin who was too young and never aged. Especially bad was the actor playing Harry Truman.

Another details the History Channel got wrong: hair. All the actors sported shaggy 2014-era hairstyles. Lots of other things didn’t work either: flowers blooming out of season, MacArthur unkempt and sweating like a stuck pig in the bunker while everyone around him looked cool as a cucumber, (any student of history knows MacArthur never sweated), using the same WWI actors and settings in the WWII scenes, no mention whatsoever of Eisenhower, Montgomery, or major WWII events such as El Alamein, Dunkirk, and the Bataan Death March.

Time was obviously the enemy during production of “The World Wars” because it suffered greatly by excluding the women in the leaders’ lives, the British royal family, and what was going on at the home front. PBS does better.

New feature: What I Learned Today

From: New York Times, Seattle Times, The New Yorker, ABC News.

Blue is the new black for tuxedos. Adam Sandler’s latest movie “Blended” is a flop, despite the presence of darling Drew Barrymore. The hottest thing to come out of the cold is Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard. Americans are over scheduling themselves to feel more important. Actress America Ferrera demonstrated grace under pressure when some nut case got too close for comfort at Cannes.

Inspiration from actor Michael Caine

From Michael Caine’s memoir “Acting in Film: An Actor’s Take on Movie Making.”

“Success, it may surprise some to hear, comes from doing, not negotiating, not counting lines, not weighing credits. Do it, do it, don’t wait for it.” 

Michael Caine

I think this applies to any craft, writing included.