Tuesday into Wednesday

I once again thank my VCR(s) for doing double duty. Without them, I would not be able to enjoy the riches of the Tuesdays at 9pm time slot.

TV Guide’s tv critic Matt Roush had mentioned this on tvguide.com – Tuesdays at 9pm (EST) is just loaded with good stuff – and it drives me nuts (kind of how Wednesdays at 9pm did it) – – – “Amazing Race” vs. “House” vs “Veronica Mars” (I really got into it as the mystery wound down) vs. “Scrubs” (I would like to watch the show, I just can’t fit it in at all – impossible. and channel-changing between commercials doesn’t satisfy, so I don’t try it at home too often, even if I try…). Argh.

“Amazing Race” – well, interesting finale. I’ll say more later, in all likelihood. But, for now, I must say – the series needs more minority contestants (and when I say “minority” – I mean people of color, not just the interesting interplay of people of various sexual orientations and moms and best friends). The couple that won in the end were wonderfully determined and lucky and faithful – but watching them pull off that final leg of the race without money was just hard viewing. I know it’s part of the rules of non-elimination round to deprive the contestants that came last of their money and stuff, but the producers didn’t seem to feel any qualms about doing that to the African-American couple and thus having them beg for help and cash? I felt bad as it was watching the older couple go through that the previous edition of “Amazing Race,” but to watch the African-American couple go through it was heart-wrenching. It really compounded the notion of racial perceptions in (North) America (the husband asked for help to pay the cab driver just as he and the missus were yards away from the finish line, and this white guy remarked “Get a job” – ugh … ), and so it was only right and fair that they got to win in the end (they certainly were amazing competitors, putting aside all frustration to make it and they became more committed to each other). My one major criticism of the “Amazing Race” folks, I guess. More diversity will help. (Pardon my rambling).

Oh, and I do think that this show is more revealing about relationships than, say, Dr. Phil’s show – the way “Amazing Race” put couples through the ringers…

I managed to watch my tape of the season finale of “Veronica Mars” – this season’s big mystery is wrapped up, but implications for next season are already in place. Good stuff.

Oh, and “House” – well, I taped it and will have to save it for later. Actor John Cho (a.k.a. Harold of the “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle” fame) guest stars as the latest patient of the week. Apparently, his character is described as a “pervert” – umm, okay… 😉

Speaking of diversity on television, I read this interesting article in the NY Times by Matthew Fogel about the diversity of “Grey’s Anatomy” on ABC:

Seattle Grace is the fictional home of ABC’s latest hit series, the steamy hospital drama “Grey’s Anatomy.” Although medical shows have become the cough syrup of television – sturdy, dependable and widely available – “Grey’s Anatomy” has differentiated itself by creating a diverse world of doctors – almost half the cast are men and women of color – and then never acknowledging it.

Perhaps there just isn’t time: the series creator, Shonda Rhimes (who helped write the screenplay for the HBO movie “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge”), has conceived Seattle Grace as a frenetic, multicultural hub where racial issues take a back seat to the more pressing problems of hospital life: surgery, competition, exhaustion and – no surprise – sex. It’s a formula that has paid off for ABC, which leased the show its most valuable post-“Desperate Housewives” real estate, where it has quickly become a surprise hit.

“The face of America is a diverse canvas,” said Stephen McPherson, president of ABC entertainment, who as president of Touchstone Television helped develop the series. “And the fact that this show represents a lot of those different aspects, you would be silly to think that doesn’t have something to do with its success,” he said in a telephone interview.

A lot of this has to do with Ms. Rhimes, who, as one of television’s few black showrunners (she shares the duties with James Parriott, a television veteran whose credits include the series “The American Embassy” and “Threat Matrix”), has created a show around her vision of diversity – one in which color is more description than definition – that feels almost defiantly fresh for network television.

“I’m in my early 30’s, and my friends and I don’t sit around and discuss race,” Ms. Rhimes said on the telephone. “We’re post-civil rights, post-feminist babies, and we take it for granted we live in a diverse world.” [….]

And even though some network executives assumed [Sandra] Oh’s hypercompetitive character would be white, Ms. Rhimes did not – in the pilot’s script she wasn’t even given a last name – so all it took was one “fabulous” audition from the “Sideways” star to christen the character Cristina Yang.

“Of course Cristina is smart and ambitious – she’s in medical school,” Ms. Oh said, responding to what some critics have called a stereotypical character. “The reason we sustain these stereotypes is that we never have more than three lines, so the audience doesn’t get to know us better.”

Ms. Rhimes has also worked hard to extend diversity to her show’s smallest roles. Determined not to have a program in which “all the extras are white, except the lone janitor,” she has created one of the most colorful backgrounds in television, a hospital in which punked-out bike messengers and suffering Hasidim roam the corridors. “Shonda’s only rule is drug dealers and pimps cannot be black,” said Dr. Zoanne Clack, a black writer for the show who also practices medicine. Even the episodic roles – a gay African-American, a young Hispanic couple – are multicultural. [….]

Very interesting stuff. Of course, I think I just like the show because of the relationships of the characters and the complexity (Oh’s Cristina Yang is the stereotypical hypercompetitive one with the poor bedside manner, yet she appears to be Pompeo’s Meredith Grey’s closest friend of the roommates; the pretty model/doctor character is turning out to have compassion that may be her vulnerable flaw/greatest strength; George, the male roommate intern who has an unrequited crush on Meredith – well, is he going to get his act together?; the resident in charge of the interns – the tough short African-American female – they need to flesh her out – she has potential to be really interesting as more than the tough one; and, of course Patrick Dempsey (still cute, even if his character is sooo wrong for pursuing a relationship with an intern!).

I’m still on my promoting Bob Kerrey kick, I guess – NY1.com’s politics section referred to this fascinating New York Magazine article analyzing Bob Kerrey, by Kurt Anderson, a fellow native Nebraskan turned New York Magazine writer. Anderson nicely notes: “[Kerrey’s] 72-hour debate with himself about the mayoralty was, it must be admitted, capricious and half-baked. Yet its very whimsy reinforced my fondness for him. Indeed, I count most of the attributes that are conflated into that invidious ‘flaky’—unapologetic ambivalence, reflexive candor, independent-mindedness, a habit for giving bipartisan offense, spontaneity, playfulness—among Kerrey’s great virtues.”

Flaky, as I noted before, is ok.

Enjoy the nice weather…

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