Category Archives: Commentary

What’s in a name?

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I have devoted many a blog post to the all-too-short-lived series Parenthood on NBC.

You may have noticed.

But this weekend, an unrelated article in the Sunday New York Times has brought forth yet another question:

Why did the family name change from Buckman — in the 1989 origin film — to Braverman in the TV series?

I’ve done some research, and apparently I’m not the first to ask this question, but for decidedly different reasons.

Many viewers pointed out that “Braverman” is a surname of Jewish origin, but the Parenthood family is decidedly not so. Others surmised that “Buckman” sounded a bit too Midwestern — where the movie was located — and the name change was necessary to reflect the California setting.

Or was it a bit of an inside joke?

The Sunday New York Times article discussed the evolution of Doc Johnson Enterprises, the ‘first family of pleasure products.’ The family surname? Oh, it’s not Johnson; it’s Braverman. And it got me thinking…

Could one of television’s great family dramas have added this little Easter egg…just for giggles and grins?

Or maybe one of the creators is simply related to a Braverman, or it tested well…neither of which is as fun for me.

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In the dark

Are you a fan of Poldark?

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I only discovered the Masterpiece series — which recently began its third season on PBS — a couple of weeks ago.

Now I’m hooked.

Flash flooding yesterday in Chicago gave me the perfect excuse to binge watch seasons 1 and 2 on Amazon Prime Video. (PBS members can also watch past episodes on their local affiliate website.)

The saga of the Captain Ross Poldark and his family set in post-Revolutionary War Cornwall is wonderful costume drama. And Aidan Turner as Poldark? Well, let’s just say I finally have a reason to watch the Hobbit movies, too.

But tonight?  I will be glued to the tube watching season 3 of Poldark.

 

 

Hat trick

If you’ve been watching the US Open Championships this week, you probably recognize this guy:

Denis Shapovalov, phenom from Canada

I first saw him beat Rafa Nadal a few weeks ago in a tournament in Montreal. Now he’s cutting a similar swath through the men’s bracket at the Open.

I’m pulling for him.

But I am distracted by his hat. It is always cinched so tight.

I have to wear caps like that at the widest possible position. Some don’t fit me at all. Which begs the question…

How small is Denis’ head? And how big is mine?

An apology

john heard

By now you’ve no doubt heard that John Heard died.

Yesterday my social media feed was full of articles about the actor, all attributing his success to Home Alone.

I know he’s not here to read this — and let’s face it, he wouldn’t if he could  — but I feel the need to apologize.

While the family comedy may have made the most money in his filmography, it certainly did not make the most of Heard.

If you’re interested and willing to do a bit more research than his obit writers, I encourage you to watch Heard in the gripping thriller Deceived, co-starring Goldie Hawn. He also played opposite Tom Hanks in the comedy Big (a great excuse to watch that again). And he was an excellent Arthur Dimmesdale in a TV miniseries version of The Scarlet Letter in 1979.

Let’s hear it for one of the great character actors. He will be missed.

 

 

 

 

 

Cold case

We have had more than enough reasons of late to question our leaders and institutions. So, perhaps you’re not ready for yet another in your entertainment viewing.

netflix-the-keepersBut I still must recommend The Keepers on Netflix.

This seven-part documentary series examines the unsolved murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik, who was abducted and killed in Baltimore in 1969 at age 26.

The circumstances surrounding her death are just one element of the story. The apparent cover-up by the church and police is even bigger and more disturbing.

And the entire investigation of this ‘cold case’ was led by Gemma Hoskins and Abbie Schaub, retirees and former students of Sister Cathy at Archbishop Keough High School.

The information they bring to light is shocking and sad — even more so because it took this long.

Sister Cathy Cesnik — and all the students at Archbishop Keough — deserve justice.

 

Too close for comfort

Did you read The Handmaid’s Tale in high school as I did?

The dystopian work of fiction was horrifying to my teenage self but far-removed — nothing I could realistically see occurring in my lifetime.

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Then Trump happened.

Now every event portrayed in the television adaptation that dropped yesterday on Hulu — only three episodes, quite frustrating for binge watchers like me — seems like a warning of things to come if we are not vigilant.

Women universally stripped of their rights to work and own property, then treated as property and debased. The LGBTQ community hanged for simply being. It is terrifying and dressed up as a return to traditional values.

I signed up for a free trial to Hulu just to watch this series. I think everyone should.

It’s that important.

Kick this around

13-reasons-why

If you haven’t started watching Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, or are in the midst of the series, don’t worry —

There are no spoilers here. Just one question (and kind of a tangential one at that).

Do bicycles not have kickstands anymore?

We see Clay Jensen ride around town as he tries to solve the show’s central mystery, and he throws his bike down on the ground like an unloved toy. He has bounced that thing off of cement, buildings, trees — you name it — and it’s been shoved into a lot of car trunks, too.

That bike gets no respect.

I have to think a kickstand would be a major improvement. But perhaps they just aren’t cool in 2017.

I don’t know….I may need 13 reasons way.