Monday, 22 November 2010


Alright, confession time: given my propensity toward the teen drama genre of the late 90s/early 2000s, it should come as little shock that at one time in my life I would have considered myself a sincere fan of the New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys (I would have gone to mat for 'N Sync's superiority, though). The two nineties-tastic groups have joined forces for a summer tour that will undoubtedly re-release the suppressed high school hormones of thousands of 26-34 year old women. It should be glorious.

Well, Sunday's American Music Awards featured a fun mash-up of recognizable hits from the two boy bands, performed by nine of the ten original members of both groups (I'm looking at you, Kevin Richardson). I tried, but I couldn't resist posting this. Take a look at it below. So fun.

As a side note, I'd like to express my admiration for Donnie Wahlberg going back to his roots with the New Kids, in spite of a successful TV career. His show Blue Bloods is actually pretty good. Respect to Donnie D.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Private Practice's After School Special

Last night's episode of Private Practice, entitled "Did You Hear What Happened to Charlotte King?", was a doozie. It featured the rape of a main character and her very unsettling reaction to what happened to her. I have a feeling future weeks will focus on the Charlotte's responsibility to admit that she was raped, and head down the "bad guy gets his" route that we would expect from a primetime drama. This episode as a stand-alone, however, was superb. I was particularly affected by the way Charlotte (KaDee Strickland) fought the victim label like a wounded wild animal. That character has always found what she thought was strength in her ability to be domineering and powerful, which is why she and sad puppy man-child Cooper are good together. In this episode, Strickland did a nice job conveying a sense of vulnerability in a character that hates letting people see her be vulnerable. She's still tough as nails, but now she's broken.

A couple of thoughts about the episode:
- The episode was bookened by the "Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major: I. Prélude", which featured prominently in my favorite episode of The West Wing, "Noël" from season 2, when Josh faces the reality of his PTSD. Is there something about this piece and traumatic occurrences on primetime TV shows? Perhaps it's just pop classical enough to illicit a reaction, letting us viewers know that it's "serious time" now. In any case, I thought it complimented the action well.

- The rape scene at the end of the episode was surprisingly explicit. It felt odd to me that they tried to make it a big reveal that Nicholas Brendon's character was the rapist. Wasn't that pretty obvious from the get-go? While the rape scene at the end was harrowing and it gave KaDee Stickland even more to work with, I wonder if it was completely necessary. Wasn't her description of the rape to Addison shocking enough? It's like Gertrude's description of Ophelia's death in Hamlet ("When down her weedy trophies and herself/Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;/And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up"): we don't need to see it to understand the horror of the situation. I understand that it was all about the "reveal" of the rapist's identity, but it still strikes me as something that might have been gratuitous.

- This show, which at the beginning seemed to be attempting a light, Grey's Anatomy tone, has really hit its stride doing darker plots. I loved getting to watch the aftermath of Violet's attack last season, and I think the show has greatly benefited from letting Addison take a more cynical approach to things in her profession. I know it's crazy to say this, but this show really doesn't suck.

Did any of you watch the episode? Did you find it affective or just another attempt to shock us?

Monday, 1 November 2010

Marion Jones: Press Pause

ESPN's 30 For 30 series is presenting a new documentary on former track and field star Marion Jones by John Singleton, set to air on ESPN Tuesday, November 2 at 8/7c. A preview trailer can be viewed here.

I, for one, will be eagerly tuning in to see Singleton's take on Jones' seemingly amazing career and downfall. During the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, when Jones won her five medals (three gold and two bronze), I was just starting my college track and field career, and, even though she was an explosive athlete and I was a long, slow distance runner, I took a lot of pride as an American track and field athlete in what she was able to accomplish. Five medals for any track and field athlete at any meet is a huge accomplishment, but this was the Olympics! I thought she was super-human. In 2007, however, my admiration and respect for this amazing athlete suddenly gave way to disappointment when she admitted to using performance enhancing drugs during the height of her career. She seemed penitent and broken by her actions as she told the press what she had done. She was shortly stripped of her medals.

As silly as it sounds, I remember feeling sad and personally hurt by Jones' admission. She had been a track and field hero of mine, a super-athlete who supposedly showed us the limitless possibilities of hard work and dedication, which are the virtues of all great track and field athletes. She was a female Jesse Owens. With all the bad press that track stars had been receiving about the use of performance enhancers, I was naive enough to think that Jones would be one of the clean ones. It broke my heart a little bit to find out that her greatest successes were predicated on a lie. It's still a punch in the gut to watch her tearing up as she told everyone what she did.

I guess it's an important lesson to learn that sometimes heroes aren't as heroic as we think they are. Jones made a series of mistakes at the pinnacle of an already great career, losing the respect of millions of fans (yes, I'm optimistic enough to believe that a track and field athlete can have millions of American fans!), and she's paid dearly for it. She's still an extraordinary athlete, but she's more human now than she used to be. That's got to be a huge burden to carry, and I wish her the best. I'm curious about Singleton's take on my former hero. If any of you tune in, let me know what you think.