So much I could say about Monday’s wildly entertaining Presidential debate, but it’s Wednesday and I’m sure you’ve heard it all already. Truly jaw-dropping how much Donald Trump lied, and how utterly clueless he was about, well, all issues that were discussed, and just crazy how he thought bragging about not paying taxes would win him votes. Because, you know, America loves a cheater. If you want to hear my thoughts as they were unfolding in real-time, check out my Twitter feed here.
So it’s fall, which means lots of new TV shows, most of which you and I don’t have time to watch, and it seems like every year there’s more and more good stuff on more and more networks and then there’s new streaming content on Amazon and Hulu and Netflix and it’s just all so exhausting to think about.
So the wife and I are trying to be judicious in what new stuff we watch. We kinda, sorta liked the new Pamela Adlon show “Better Things,” and definitely are interested in the new Sarah Jessica Parker HBO show “Divorce” starting next week.
So far I’ve gotten to see two of the new shows I was most excited about, and I’d say 1.5 of them were good. Let me explain.
First, I was surprised at how much I liked “Pitch,” which is on FOX on Thursday nights. The concept is simple: First-ever female pitcher makes it to the major leagues, endures sexism and tough competition, goes through highs and lows, and is managed on the San Diego Padres by Kevin Arnold’s Dad (sorry, his real name is Dan Lauria, but he’ll always be Jack Arnold from ‘The Wonder Years” to me.)
The pilot episode was actually really good. The actress playing the female pitcher, Kylie Bunbury, is strong. Mark-Paul Gosselaar seems very well cast as the cocky All-Star catcher, and believe it or not, most of the baseball scenes seemed realistic (the owner insinuating he’d fire the manager because he wants “the girl” sent back to the minors was ridiculous, and also the dialogue written for real-life FOX announcers Joe Buck and John Smoltz was beyond cringe-worthy. Just horrendous.)
There are a lot of real issues that the writers can mine with “Pitch,” leaving aside there’s no way a woman pitcher with just a screwball could make the majors. I have high hopes this show will continue be good.
**Meanwhile, “This is Us” on NBC is exactly the kind of show I should love. It has so many of the same elements of “Parenthood,” a show I loved despite it pissing me off sometimes. You’ve got generations of families, you’ve got interesting characters, you’ve got heart-tugging stuff like a son reuniting with his (maybe) dying biological father after decades of hating him from afar. The pilot, for the first 45 minutes, despite hammering me over the head with emotion (one reviewer hit it perfectly: “This is Us” is like getting hit over the head with a pillow of tears) was really compelling.
I was into it. I was digging it. The scene with the doctor (Gerald McRaney) talking to the new dad who lost one of the three triplets in childbirth was just gorgeous.
And then … they hit us with the gimmick. (SPOILER ALERT. BUT COME ON, THE SHOW AIRED 8 DAYS AGO, I THINK I’M SAFE HERE, RIGHT?)
It turns out the beautiful couple having triplets at the hospital throughout the pilot episode are not doing it in 2016. They’re doing it in 1979, and the seemingly separate adults we’ve also been watching are all brother and sister, with one brother being the abandoned African-American baby who yells at his bio dad in this episode, 36 years later.
I was gobsmacked by this, as was my wife. I completely understand why creator Dan Fogelman threw this in; now we get to watch two shows in one develop, as the new parents (Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia) raise three kids, one of whom isn’t theirs genetically, while as adults, the kids battle their own problems.
I’m just not sure “This is Us” can pull this off. I’m not sure the going back and forth between 1979 and 2016 is going to work, and I’m not sure the emotional overload won’t be too exhausting. I really, really want to like this show. I just hope it doesn’t play tricks on the audience all the time just to keep us interested.
**Finally today, there’s some hope for struggling freelance writers and journalists who are hoping to pay their bills. Don’t worry about leaving money to your family, your ashes are quite valuable once you’re dead!
Check this out: Someone bought the ashes of Truman Capote, the famous writer of “In Cold Blood” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” for $43,750 at an auction last week.
According to this story, they were kept in a carved Japanese wooden box, the ashes belonged to the late Joanne Carson, wife of the former Tonight Show host Johnny Carson.
I’m brimming with questions: Why would anyone want a writer’s ashes? Was the anonymous collector who bought them a writer themselves, and planning to sprinkle them on his/her keyboard for inspiration? And most importantly, I’m no Truman Capote, but I did once write cover stories for SLAM and Maxim magazines. Think my ashes could fetch 40 bucks?