Sunday, October 16, 2005

Am I Writing for the West Wing and Nobody Told Me? (plus, why Rome is no Deadwood, though it may be dead wood for HBO)

So, for the second weekend in a row, the seemingly rejuvenated West Wing has stolen important political statements straight out of my email account. First Vinick tells the religious (far-far-far) right to suck it (in cleverly diabolical fashion.) Then, this week, MattJimi SantosSmits (btw, please, PLEASE have Dennis Franz show up as the head of his secret service detail...) gets it just right on the Intelligent Design issue. ID and Evolution are not mutually exclusive, (in fact, if I were an intelligent person of faith, I'm not sure I could believe one without the other). But one is 'Science', its disprovable. One is faith. When teaching science to children, the scientific method is at least as important, if not more, then the physical/chemical/biological laws being demonstrated.

I am a bit worried that the show may be going in too many directions at once. The split story thing worked for a little bit when Sam Seeborn was getting bitch-slapped by the voters of the OC while Barlett was mopping the floor with I mean Gov. Richie (Florida, Texas, what's the difference?), but now they have to deal with both campaigns (each of which could be its own show...brilliant to have Bruno working for Vinick. Gives Lemon Lyman a worthy adversary, plus, with props to Sports Guy, HIS FATHER IS THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY). As a bonus 3rd story, apparently Toby is going to jail. Like father, like son, evidently.

My other Sunday evening show, Rome is entertaining, if not engrossing in the way of HBO'ss better efforts, such as The Wire or Deadwood. The comparison between Rome and Deadwood is particularly apt, since both shows are supposedly based on a similar premise of society forming order without law. (David Milch has said as much.) Deadwood is stronger in two areas, I think. First, is familiarity. The Old West wasn't that long ago, and even though things are different, we, as a culture, are familiar with the era, so don't need exposition on that kinda stuff. So much of the stuff in Rome either needs teedious explanation, or goes unexplained, leaving a bit of the "Wha?" feeling. (Example, the whole Plebian/Nobility thing, with Pompeii being the Pleb Counsul. The dynamic is understandable if one knows that little tidbit of Roman culture, but its never explained in the series at all.)

Second, and perhaps more importantly, is characters. Vorenus doesn't suck, but doesn't bring much to the table either. Pullo is fun in a Falstaffian kind of way. Atia might be an ancient ancestor of Livia Soprano. But there is nothing approaching the sheer awesomeness that is Al Swearengen . Plus, there is Calamity Jane, and Wild Bill is a much better dead character then Pompeii Magnus. Yes, Bullock is slightly boring, but you can't mess with guys named Seth.*

Anyway, I'm willing to give Rome a few more weeks, elst I have to switch to Sunday Night Football. (Though if SNF was anything near this good every week, there would be no contest.)

* MacFarlane that is...

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