Mike’s Prattle

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Archive for April, 2007

Mike prattles on TV (was What I’m Watching)

Posted by Mike on April 30, 2007

The following two links are my previous forays into this sort of thing, prattling on about the TV I watch…

https://mikesprattle.wordpress.com/2006/12/06/what-im-watching-update/

http://mikesprattle.wordpress.com/2006/10/20/what-im-watching/

This are my most recent thoughts as the summer approaches…

Monday

24 has always been something of a guilty pleasure despite its level of unbelievability. It always makes me chuckle when someone sneers at a genre program, usually due to being unable to suspend belief, yet of late I’m better off believing in space ships and little green men than the twists and turns of the increasingly witless 24. It’s gotten to the point that even after seeing the show have a pretty good season last year, that I’ve lost all connection to all of the remaining characters (those not killed off for some sort of shock value) and just don’t care anymore. The May 13th ep was the last for me.

On the other hand and at the same time, Heroes seems to be improving, particularly as all the various characters begin to interact. My problem with this show is that the acting leaves a lot to be desired, I’m already extremely exhausted by Hayden Panetierre’s plethora of teenage mopey looks and it’s really only actors like Christopher Eccleston and Malcolm McDowell (who strangely enough plays his character here a lot like the one he did in Entourage) that help to keep this part of it from sinking. What I do like is the complexity of the plot in that there does seem to be some direction to what’s going on.

24, FOX, 9 PM D (as in delete)
Heroes, NBC, 9 PM, B

Tuesday

Veronica Mars has been absent from the TV for weeks and comes back tomorrow night. It’s a show that’s been on the bubble for both me and its network. I love the writing and plotting, the dialogue even, but the angsty teenager/post-teenager stuff isn’t really of much interest. It’s a show I don’t mind watching but won’t be terribly disturbed if it gets cut.

The Shield, on the other hand, seems to be feeding off the energy brought into it during Season 5 last year, possibly the show’s best season. As “Season 6” seems to really be the last half of 5, it’s hard not to see it as a continuation. The stakes just keep getting larger and it finally feels as if the series arc is starting to turn the corner and take us to the conclusion at the end of Season 7. Chiklis and Goggins are particularly brilliant this year, witness Chiklis’ breakdown scene at the hospital at the end of episode 4. Cracking stuff and no miss television, maybe the best show on TV.

The Shield, FX, Tuesday, 10 PM, A
Veronica Mars, CW, Tuesday, 9 PM, C+

Wednesday

Always the busiest night in TV for me, although I was a hair from dropping Lost from my schedule after the season’s opening and rather dull first six episodes. Fortunately it seems like it’s regathered a bit of steam of late, the last 3-4 episodes reminding me of why I used to like the show. I’m not one of those who needs all the answers right away and am quite OK with their being a larger mystery needing resolved. And then there’s the actress who plays Juliet, who probably has done more than anyone else to help rejuvenate this sinking ship.

Jericho lies somewhere between Heroes and Lost in terms of a serial TV show. Like Heroes, I’m not utterly convinced or drawn in by the entire cast, but the plotting seems to have moved beyond the post nuclear war scenario into an “every town for itself” thread, which has been fairly interesting, although I’m really starting to detect and notice the typical cliche plot points, particularly the need for suspenseful situations to be resolved at the last minute all the time. The show could probably lose me at any time given a dive, but it’s also on at 7 PM, which makes it rather accessible overall.

Friday Night Lights, if you can forgive the occasional sports movie cliches, ended up as one of the season’s big bright spots, a show whose acting and plotting is all around excellent. It’s amazing in particular how they can turn a character you can barely be sympathetic for into a real draw, to the point where there were few people in town I wasn’t interested in by the end. As a show on the bubble, this is the one I want most to succeed, it’s only slightly promising that NBC has ordered more scripts given its relatively low ratings (not to mention it being up against American Idol).

South Park Season 11, the “a side,”¬†started out with the brilliant and controversial “With Apologies to Jesse Jackson,” a classic that lives up to repeat watching, but then managed to get rather average for the rest of the 7 episode run (returns in October). This seems to be fairly typical of the show the last few seasons, although the second half run tends to be the best. But overall, even one classic SP for every 7 eps keeps the show well worth watching.

Jericho, CBS, 7 PM, B-
Friday Night Lights, NBC, 8 PM, A-
Lost, ABC, 9 PM, B-
South Park, Comedy Central, 10 PM, C+

Thursday

Not too many changes since my last report for Thursday, all shows remaining at about the same quality. Smallville has gotten a little darker, but its rather dull acting and predictable twists evens it out some. I suppose in some ways it’s a fun show to chuckle at occasionally, which makes it worth hanging in there. For now.

30 Rock seems to have improved as it reached the end of it’s first season run (it has been renewed), the introduction of Alex Baldwin’s foil with the avian bone syndrome had me in a couple spots of uncontrollable laughter. At times the show goes way over the top, in a similar way to bad SNL (which I haven’t watched since Tina Fey was the news person), but if that can be toned down a little, the cast is excellent and provides for some hilarious and rather bizarre TV.

The Office remains about the same, I can’t get worked up over it like I could for the English version, but there are enough good episodes and funny situations to keep me watching.

Smallville, CW, 8 PM, C-
The Office, NBC 8:30 PM, B
30 Rock, NC 9:30 PM, B

Friday through Sunday and others

The only network TV show I watch during the weekend, and then usually after the fact, is Family Guy, which remains at a more or less consistent level, perhaps not quite as good as it was before it was revived, but still containing enough brilliant ideas to make it worth watching.

Before that is HBO’s Entourage which is a very enjoyable half hour show about Los Angeles and hitting the big time. I’m pleased to see the addition of Carla Gugino to the cast, although at this point I’m more interested to seeing how this will affect Ari more so than Vince and his crew. With Piven’s Ari sidelined for now, the standalone stories seem a little beside the point, it’s always better when Ari is with the crew.

Entourage, HBO, 7/10 PM, B
Family Guy, FOX, 9 PM, B-

And this wouldn’t be complete with the nods to some great British programming, the incomparable and genius Life on Mars (A), the epic and wacky series 3 of Doctor Who (B+) and the opening series of Primeval (B-), most¬†of which I hope to say more about when the first two air over here later in the year (DW in early July on Sci-Fi, LoM somewhat later on BBC America).

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Pat Zalewski “The Kabbalah of the Golden Dawn;” Nick Farrell “Gathering the Magic;” Ellic Howe – “The Magicians of the Golden Dawn”

Posted by Mike on April 12, 2007

Managed to finish off three esoteric books in the last few weeks, all of which are of interest in various ways, none of them in particular, except maybe the last title, would be described as beginning work. Pat Zalewksi’s The Kabbalah of the Golden Dawn is of interest mostly because the lineage of the Golden Dawn in New Zealand through the Whare Ra temple is different than most modern lineages that come through the Stella Matutina and Israel Regardie and in some ways it feels a deeper and richer tradition, certainly one that doesn’t have the struggles the Regardie tradition has these days in terms of who “owns” it. As a book, KotGD has something of a scrapbook feel to it in that it mostly reproduces lectures and diagrams related to the order’s take on the kabbalah, many of which are similar to the Regardie lineage. It’s in those places where it diverges where it becomes interesting, including some comparisons between alchemy and the kabbalah that are of interest. I’d probably still suggest Dion Fortune’s The Mystical Qabalah or even Regardie’s “The Garden of Pomegranates” as a better introduction, but this goes quite a bit deeper than both.

Nick Farrell’s Gathering the Magic has to be read to be believed, it could be one of the funniest books on esoterica on the market, with an almost Python-esque sense of satire and self-deprecation. Not only funny, it strikes me as eminently wise and even if the book is geared towards individuals setting up their own occult groups, something I’m not doing, its look into interpersonal dynamics and the psychology of groups is priceless. Farrell’s clearly been around a long time, in various groups and has seen them both succeed and derail in various ways and provides advice and warnings in full. And never have you read an esoteric author with such a matter-of-fact tone, we’re saddled with so many writers from different eras, that to hear someone so 21st century was a pleasure. An excellent and fun book.

And speaking of matter of fact, Ellic Howe’s documentary history on the Golden Dawn is probably something everyone should read, and particularly esotericists, as it provides the non-occultic side of the story from someone who has done a brilliant bit of research and has come off with a bit of a sneer at the people who were part of this legendary group. Howe’s access to various treasure troves of correspondance helps to tell the story of the Golden Dawn from its fuzzy and apparently forged beginnings to the break up of the group, in fact one wishes we could send the aforementioned Farrell back in time to give this group of squabbling and somewhat insecure adepts a little lesson in gaining some control over the ego. In fact anyone with the Complete book as provided through Regardie might remember the dire warnings of ego inflation that comes along with working the system, one is continually reminded that such warnings were largely there as a reminder of what happened to the originals. Howe ain’t an occultist by any means and often takes easy shots at some of the people in the book, but these do often tend to make the whole thing less dry and more readable. It’s all a serious reminder that those who take these paths are still human beings in every way, not magical floating gurus in meditation asanas throwing lightning bolts at the profane.

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