Thursday, October 31, 2013

TV and Me--Final Episode (For Now)

Briefly, three current shows and why i like them:

NCIS--Like the other two I'll discuss, this is implicitly right wing:  a bunch of heroes who work for the CIA are unlikely to be liberals.  But it's terrific entertainment.  I have wondered why I've found it so, given the rah-rah-america undertones, few women, and only one person of color, who is the head of the department but far from the lead character. i could argue that one of the key characters, abbie,  is female, brilliant, and refreshingly odd. but that would be only partially honest. there was, until the actor's recent resignation, another brilliant female character--ziva, who was annoyingly beautiful but cool.  [and yes, i was one of those people who had to see the episode about  ziva's departure and her near-romance with tony culminating in a passionate kiss.] The plots are unavoidably repetitive: at least half of the TVGuide blurbs begin with "a marine is found dead in...'' But the action always works, because, i think, it's a terrific acting ensemble.  And it has among the cast the terrific, aging [also a relelif to me] david mccallum as the chief medical officer, briskly efficient but deeply compassionate: he always gently talks to the corpses he is dissecting, and these monologues are one of the show's highlights.

the spinoff of NCIS, NCIS LA, has a good cast, though not as fine a cast as its parent show.  but it has something that  the former show doesn't--linda hunt. hunt is one of the few female actors who succeeded in hollywood without being conventionally beautiful--or even pretty.  She was amazing in the 1982  film, The Year of Living Dangerously,  in which she played, believably and stunningly, a chinese-australian  male dwarf.  A tiny woman and now an elderly one, she sparkles as the head of the agency, and is a constant presence, radiating a strength that easily surpasses the talents of the rest of the cast.  the show itself is fun, but i watch it chiefly to see her.

finally, there's my butterscotch sundae, the show i indulge in with no nutrients, but pure pleasure--the summer show covert affairs. like drop dead diva, it was divided into two sections--half of which played in the summer, half in fall. since affairs started later in the fall than ddd, i get to enjoy it for a few more weeks.  it's another cia show, this time occupied by undercover [hence the 'covert'; the 'affairs' is pure sexual come-on] agents. the hero is annie walker, young-and-beautiful, and able to successfully flee from or pursue baddies--usually rogue agents from other countries--in stilleto heels and tight dresses.  she can also jump from the shore into a boat moored nearby in a single leap without scratching an ankle [although to be fair, she did this in low-heeled boots].

 so okay, verisimilitude isn't its strong point. in fact the second most important character [competing with annie in importance, if you take the fan mail seriously] is her handler, auggie, who was blinded in iraq and is almost as much a super-hero as annie. through 3 seasons he was also her best buddy, and anyone who doubted they would become lovers wasn't paying attention from day one.  last summer's season ended with their first kiss; this season began with them as a couple, with a flashback to their first night of sex, complete with the ubiquitous tv satin blanket covering him to the waist and her to just above her breasts.  i always think these blankets are specially made to be 5 inches higher on one side than the other.  and while the scene was appropriately sexy, the camera did a lot more moving around than the lovers.

but they have been an absolutely endearing couple, with as much tenderness as sexiness always in view, even at their most angst-ridden.  and honesty compels me to admit that this is what i watch it for. i love the action sequences, and the plotting the cia agents --and yes, they're all gorgeous--get involved in. this season has been a bit darker than the earlier ones, with annie, auggie, and the crowd in their different way out to defeat super-villain henry wilcox, until recently a higher-up in the cia.  this separates our lovebirds, as annie 'goes rogue' in her pursuit of wilcox and her determination to disband his evil empire.  i do like when we see bad apples in the cia.  annie follows henry's trail to geneva, disguised with dyed but not cut hair--no scissors will shear those sex locks!--and at one point actually tortures to death one of his henchmen, whom she has tied to a chair.  the scene should be appalling, but the writers set it up with a strain of gallows humor: the henchman receives each of annie's vicious blows with an appropriate scream, then blandly critiques her performance. since we see lots of blood and body goo, she's clearly doing a fairly good job, and one does wonder what his complaint is. when she sets out to use electric torture, sticking both of his legs into pails of water, a lamp gets knocked over into the water, and the obnoxious torturee is dead before she can get the info she needs from him.

still, none of this is why i watch. i watch for the pure romantic perfection of annie and auggie.  they are a gorgeous fantasy of tortured but true love.  what straight woman wouldn't want an auggie? what straight man woildn't want an annie?  but then, what decent perosn wouldd want to interfere with their terrific symmetry?  the show's fan mail is loaded with fierce demands to keep them together, or to separate them and pair annie up with a seasoned israeli rogue agent who often appears on the show.  these fans, as far as i can see, are as passionate as the ddd fans but without the friendly banter of the latter.  maybe it's the cia influence: these fans are out to kill.  but  how can i criticize them?--i'm one of them. break up a&a, and i'll do worse than kill. i'll remove one aging spinster from their viewers.  that'll show them.  jump on those boats without me, annie walker!

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