So… the US Supreme Court got down the wire, as it always does during the last week of June, before it goes on its summer break. Looks like the case on marriage equality is about 100 pages (majority and dissent opinions). They sure know how to make things interesting…
Considering how I had done a couple of housing discrimination cases, I like the idea of having some more tools in the arsenal that would be helpful and housing discrimination is tricky business without effective tools. Disparate impact would really approach it in a broader but targeted way (even if people feel uncomfortable about not looking for alleged intent, disparate impact really digs deeper into addressing social injustice by examining the effects).
Any lawyer can tell you that the constitutional cases aren’t short reads, but trying to get through them and make sense of them – well, not the simplest of reading, but it means something to me. Fortunately, e-readers make that a little easier – at least, I’d like to think so, but I barely got to really reading last year’s decisions after downloading them and as a news junkie, I’d like to try better and as a lawyer, at most, I end up reading the decisions most relevant to my area of work – but as a US S.Ct. curiosity seeker, well, there’s a weird fun to all of this, whether I like how a decision goes or not. (I’ve been a sucker to read Slate’s Supreme Court Breakfast Table feature every June the last couple of years).
And, while I’m not sure how the future will go, I’d like to think that the decisions this week were positive steps to a better and fairer society. Keep hope alive, everybody!
Oh, and otherwise: my current reading is Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, the first James Bond book. Probably not legal-related as I can get this week; I need a break…!
What happened was that I had seen the link to this post over at Startrek.com, “Kirk vs. Picard: An Enduring Debate” by David McDonnell, on my Facebook newsfeed, and I thought it had an interesting look at the history of the debate of Kirk vs. Picard. But, then again, my initial reaction to the article was, “Good Lord, the Kirk vs. Picard is a never-ending debate since ST:TNG started. Can’t we just agree that they’re two very different styles of captains?”
Generally, it always seemed to me to come down to Kirk, Man of Action, versus Picard, Man of Contemplation. But… on further thought, if one looks at the overall evolution of both of them, they’re probably not that different from each other…
After all, young Picard started as a Kirk-esque guy, but matured from his experiences (as Picard and Q realized, “Johnny” Picard was a boat-load of fun, but losing his (physical) heart and growing up made him the man that he became), and Kirk probably wished he had a Picard maneuver to deal with Khan in another way back in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” (TWOK), which reached ridiculous Picard-level of Shakespearean tragedy.
Moreover, during TWOK, Kirk’s love for antiques and dead tree books was a plot factor – and he clearly had his leanings to be contemplative, but for the lust for action (hence, he lost Carol Marcus, as she had implied during TWOK). I was always curious about how TWOK explored the intellectual and thoughtful sides of Kirk, the parts of him that were more than the rash and romantic space cowboy. Could a parallel universe Kirk become a Picard-esque man?
Well, the rebooted J.J. Abrams-verse ST has yet to suggest that – he’s still the Man of Action, even though he tries to keep in mind the principles of Starfleet and all that – but the new version of Kirk seems to have a greater yearning for family more than original Kirk did (considering what J.J. Abrams did to his biological father and his father figure, which didn’t happen to original Kirk). Hmm…
Then, a Facebook friend (J) posted a response to my sharing the link on the Kirk vs. Picard debate, along the lines of, hey, forget Picard and Kirk; there’s Sisko and how far he went in the episode of “In the Pale Moonlight” on “ST: Deep Space 9.” That got me thinking: Sisko did the things so many wouldn’t do to save the Federation, as shown during the Dominion War arc (and even the Maquis storyline, when the Federation entered a real gray moral territory over how it treated Federation citizens and how Sisko was so determined to uphold the Starfleet way). What does that say about Sisko as a Starfleet leader? Is he the “better” man? Or were the others “better”?
Picard sure wouldn’t do what Sisko did, even if he might understand and empathize with Sisko. Picard had a darker man in him (I think his Borg trauma probably only enhanced it; see the example of the movie, “Star Trek: First Contact”), and he went through more than what most normal men would have gone through (besides the Borg trauma, there was torture by the Cardassians; essentially mental rape when the alien entity made him live a whole life in the episode, “The Inner Light“; and losing lots of his friends, relatives, and at least two ships), putting aside for the moment Sisko’s own tragic loss of his first wife and the personal revelations about his mother. But, Picard’s darkness tended to be reined in by his principles and respect for basic things, like life, love, nature, and free will (especially free will, since he and Q had ridiculous interactions about that).
And, Kirk…? (original Kirk, that is). Hmm. Is it weird that I’m not sure if Kirk would do what Sisko did? Maybe Kirk would have turned away from everything, to be the cowboy, ride his horses, keep having adventures, and save the universe when he wants to do so and feels he was the one to do it. Did Starfleet and the Federation mean that much to Kirk? Or did he just live in such a different era than Picard and later Sisko? New Kirk might be different, since Starfleet gave him a life worth having, but original Kirk was still quite the heroic figure (almost in that Greek mythology sense, which the original series and the movies certainly pushed).
Or is Sisko such an outlier to the Kirk vs. Picard debate because he’s not an Enterprise captain? He was, in some ways, both action and contemplation, and beyond either – more the whole person – or “being,” especially if one accepted the final arc he had on “ST:DS9.” (I can’t say that I did – but primarily because I appreciated Sisko as a human being, and believed that he liked that about himself too, despite or because of his bond to the planet Bajor).
But, then again, the Star Trek novel, The Serpent Among the Ruins by David R George III (Amazon link here), at least posits one Enterprise captain would pull some conspiracy stuff to save the Federation, where John Harriman (generally the guy in the movie “Star Trek: Generations” who allowed Kirk to save the day) pulled off quite a stunt to give himself and Starfleet a clean conscience while manipulating a war (see here for the post to my reaction to that book).
Kathryn Janeway of “ST: Voyager” and Jonathan Archer of “ST: Enterprise” — well, I could go into a whole rant, but I won’t. I liked both shows on their own, but for me, it’s harder to say whether their lead characters quite match the explorations of socio-political issues and character development the way Picard, Kirk, and Sisko did. I’m not even sure if Janeway and Archer quite fit that whole debate of action versus contemplation or the “screw that” schema that Kirk, Picard, and Sisko have.
Janeway should have been “the scientist,” but I don’t think the writers of ST: VOY did her favors by not fully fleshing out her journey through the Delta Quadrant (at least not in a more satisfying way for me). Archer was very much a character of his times, reflecting the early roots of Starfleet and the Federation – and his journey got derailed by the Time War arc (I could try to explain that, but I can only say that it made things very messy in a needless way; you’re more than welcome to search “Star Trek: Enterprise” on triscribe’s search function and see what I thought back when the show was on). Overall, I’d say that the journeys of Kirk, Picard, and Sisko made for a good range of leadership to check out.
By the way, I looked it over and I think my list of what I think of as ST moments still holds for me (mind you, that post was just my opinion of what I had liked; different people might have different takes on what they feel is an ST moment). Feel free to check that out.
Meanwhile, I had seen this this article over at Deadline by Mike Fleming, Jr., about director Justin Lin, who is tasked to direct the next reboot movie of the J.J. Abrams-verse. The article gave me hope that Lin could pull off a good ST movie, especially since he said he grew up watching ST. I think if Lin can tell a good story while highlighting the development of the bonds that the crew of the Enterprise has (yep, that group of professional, stubborn but open-minded, multi-racial, multi-species of people), it’d be fun.
Honestly, I didn’t think I’d enjoy the Fast and Furious franchise until Lin had stepped in and tweaked it, not that I’d compare F&F and ST… Not exactly, anyway. But, a fun series that moves the viewer’s emotions… that’s surely what ST is, isn’t it?
Some season finale observations or overall season overviews. There might be more television posts later; we’ll see. Anyway, spoilers ahead, or if you don’t care, read on.
As I’ve said before about “Elementary” (see my 2014 year in review commentary), I wish the show did a better job at being an ensemble show. The acting is great, but the reality is that the show is very much the Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson show (and even then, more the Sherlock show, as well it should be). However, the moments with Detective Marcus Bell (Jon Michael Hill) and Captain Thomas Gregson (Aidan Quinn) have been notable and they sort of had arcs this season. I’d like to see more of that – to see a coherent expansion of the Holmesian universe.
For instance, Bell slowly developed a friendship of sorts with Sherlock and he realized that he deserved a life (to avoid, as Sherlock pointed out, the life of personal isolation that Sherlock, Joan, and Gregson each seemed to have carved for themselves).
Meanwhile, Gregson got confronted with how his daughter was a victim of abuse from a failed romantic relationship with another cop, and how her ambition as a cop might not make her the most upstanding cop. And, maybe some amount of corruption or power play might push Gregson to a promotion he didn’t seek or want, which might lead to problems for Sherlock, Joan, and Bell.
But, the arcs of Bell and Gregson felt a little flat ultimately (it didn’t help that the season finale didn’t touch on their mindsets very much, beyond Gregson’s frustration that Sherlock was putting himself in danger).
And, even Joan’s storyline was troubling for how her boyfriend died and how that led to her moving back to the Holmes brownstone and socially isolating herself (or, as she put it, fully committing to detective work).
The most recent season finale didn’t really end on a cliffhanger note (not to me, anyway), when it concerned the threat of Sherlock’s addiction relapse. Sherlock’s addiction problem was left hanging (or never went away) since the season finale of the previous season, when he took the heroine from his safe. And, I would have to go back to the season premiere of this season, but I really thought he had relapsed already, and he never denied that relapse was a threat that still haunted him (the never-ending problem of being an addict).
On the other hand, I was kind of hoping that Sherlock’s realization that he needed friends and his growing acceptance of Joan, Bell, and Alfredo (Sherlock’s former Narcotics Anonymous sponsor) as friends meant more for his character development – especially since he was as someone who was so flawed and rejected his family.
And, I could have sworn that we viewers were left hanging as far as the state of friendship between Sherlock and Gregson (or what passes for friendship). Way back in Season 1, Sherlock pretty much burned Gregson by doing some really dubious things, and Gregson has been left with the thankless role of Supportive Boss of Authority over Sherlock, Joan, and Bell (a fairly stereotyped role of police procedural tv series and movies). There could have been some fleshing out of this whole friendship theme of this season.
I ended up liking the “Kitty as Sherlock’s new protege” storyline far more than I expected, because it made Sherlock aware of how he impacted lives. Even Kitty, as a jarring character during the 1st half of the season, grew on me (even if she was pretty brutal). What I like about Sherlock Holmes of “Elementary” is that he is so human. But… the big but…
But, as the A.V. Club‘s Myles McNutt noted in his reviews of the 2nd half of this third season, things got weird. McNutt got frustrated that the episodes seemed so determined to have a murder as a hook, even though the plot would get very meandering and away from the original murder. I agree that, with such rich characters, there could and should be an easier way to have the procedural part, than what often felt like incoherent messes with terrific Sherlock dialog.
(also, I enjoyed McNutt’s season finale critique, and I’m sorry that he’s moving on from the “Elementary” assignment on the A.V. Club! Hope his successor goes as deep).
When a series makes it obvious that the guest star is the suspect and did do the murder, I would strongly suggest going back to the drawing board. This ain’t Columbo (and even the “Elementary” episode that was in a Columbo style – where the viewer knows who did the murder, even if the why has to be unfolded – didn’t exactly work all that well, because the why still made no sense).
I have hope for “Elementary,” since the cinematography is great (I love how Long Island City ends up being a stand-in for just about every part of the city, and how the city just looks good on the show) and the cast – I like the cast! But, come on, writers: be focused and use the strengths of your cast!
Meanwhile, “Dancing With the Stars” managed to be its usual fun. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how the adapted music on that show works for the ballroom dancing stuff, but the pro dancers are so talented. I have enormous respect for Derek Hough as a choreographer, but I was rooting for Val Chmerkovskiy to win finally. The time when he and Artem Chigvintsev did the trio paso doble with Rumer Willis – whoa. Hot stuff. I couldn’t get my eyes off of Val and Artem! See below!
But, yes, in dancing with Val during this latest round of “Dancing With the Stars,” Rumer has done a great job showing us viewers that she is more than the daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore. She has a lot of talent and hopefully this can help her with whatever her next gig is. The season finale was pretty bloated though, dragging out the tension while still being entertaining.
I watched the farewell to David Letterman on the “Late Show with David Letterman” on CBS this past Wednesday. It was actually David Letterman Day in the City of New York (well, “Late Show with David Letterman” Day, per the mayor’s proclamation for that day).
I’m not much of a late night tv viewer, but I admired how Letterman became such a New York City icon, from his days of returning to work after 9/11/01, and how he made his return from the writers’ strike. Letterman was funny about his sarcasm and candidness (his skewering certain politicians could be fun to watch), and his human moments (his family, his heart surgery) were human. And, those odd bits (Rupert Jee and the South Asian guys from the early days of the series’ CBS incarnation) were … odd bits.
Anyway, I thought that the farewell episode was sweet for remembering old guests (especially those who passed away). Also, the Top 10 was hilarious, just for being a fun roast of Letterman (not a new thing, but a nice way to end things).
It’s not clear what Letterman plans to do in his retirement, other than spending time with his family. He’s entitled to do nothing during retirement. But, as I’ve mentioned before, I could easily imagine him doing a Charlie Rose-style of project, covering topics he wants to do or whatever he cares about. Best wishes and congrats, Letterman, and be good in whatever you’ll do next.
Sidenote stuff: See here on FC’s post on Calvert DeForest, who was best known as “Larry (Bud) Melman” on the old “Late, Late Night with David Letterman” on NBC (the Melman name couldn’t go to CBS during Letterman’s transition); I thought it was nice that a clip of him was on the finale.