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True Detective – A Character Study

For once, I haven’t read what other critics have written about True Detective, but simply watched the show and marveled at the writing, acting and storytelling. I am addicted to the show like I haven’t been to a drama in a long time. I loved Broadchurch and Top of the Lake, miss Masters of Sex, and can’t wait for The Americans to premiere soon but True Detective fills some kind of void. I have always been drawn to detectives and crime because it’s akin to seeing ourselves and what we’re capable of and frankly I prefer darker material. I rode with the homicide detectives in the city of St. Louis for six months for an article I wrote many years ago and that experience changed me. I have written my own material about detectives and missing persons and watch hours and hours of the Discovery ID channel. I have always been as fascinated by the detectives as to the crime. I watch each episode of HBO’s compelling series many times to witness all the nuances. I have many friends who couldn’t wait for the second season of House of Cards to come out, so I’ll be adding that show to my viewing time but I’m jealous they can watch the entire show over a weekend. I would like to be able to do that with True Detective. I’m not alone. Even Barack Obama has asked HBO for advanced screeners of the show. Ok, today, I obviously started reading what others have written about the show. 

Nothing that’s been written was a major revelation or something I hadn’t considered, but then I have been writing about television for decades and have interviewed many talented show runners.  But it was a pleasure to connect with others who love the show as I do, even if I disagree with some of their observations. I do watch television differently than some of my friends but it has been fulfilling to be a viewer, to look forward to each episode as they roll out for everyone. I’m not overanalyzing the show. I loved the first few episodes, was fine with it pacing and the way each episode delved into the character’s lives. Matthew McConaughey is such a pleasure to watch as a tortured and tightly wound detective and Woody Harrelson is his equal. have theorized where the story is going but even if the destination isn’t what I would have wished for, the journey to get there has been so well worth my time.  

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Random Missives From TV LAND

I may not be writing as often but that doesn’t mean I’m not watching television. In fact, sometimes watching some of my favorite shows is one of my most enjoyable activities. Look forward to FX’s The Americans and still watching Red Widow and my other faves like The Good Wife. But right now some of the newer shows have grabbed my attention.

I love BBC’s Orphan Black. The pilot was one of the best I’ve watched and I couldn’t wait to see the next episode. Even with the sci fi element, the story is so gripping, watching Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) take over someone else’s identity. I kind of wish there weren’t so many other clones as she’s enough to keep me watching.

I was also riveted to Top of the Lake on the Sundance Channel. As bleak as it was I forgot time as it was so gripping…maybe it was the landscape or the twists and turns that weren’t all predictable, and even though I knew who Tui’s child’s father was it all along that really wasn’t what I was focused on…I love Jane Campion and she knows how to tell a story but Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men) showed just how great she is and that she could anchor a drama. Her relationship with Johnno (Thomas M. Wright) was so sensual and raw and real but al along it seemed doomed somehow. Even before the secret was revealed. There was little sentimentality here and I really liked that as that’s what Americans can over do sometimes. To all showrunners and creators out there…more…more….more.

Watching Mad Men, one of my favorite shows, but the first three episodes are much less interesting to me than in previous seasons. Not big on the flashbacks of Don when he was younger…he’s a jerk really so don’t try to tell us now why he’s like that. Interesting moments of course…but not as compelling.

I’m really looking forward to Sunday night’s documentary All the President’s Men Revisited, a new documentary made by Robert Redford about the Watergate scandal and featuring material from the book and the film of the same name, which he starred in with Dustin Hoffman. I loved the film directed by the late Alan J. Pakula and the inside look at a newsroom.  As a young woman, I became enthralled with Ben Bradlee of The Washington Post and the late Katherine Graham, a former publisher of the once most prestigious newspaper.

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HOMELAND SEASON FINALE LITERALLY EXPLODED WITH POSSIBILITIES AND ACTION

Okay…I was lulled into a false sense of security on Showtime’s Homeland…as if the ongoing terrorist threat was lessened to such a degree that it no longer mattered. Brody (Damian Lewis) and Carrie (Claire Daines)  together, that’s what mattered. And then…POW! There it was the explosion the carnage and chaos. And only Saul (Mandy Patinkin) and Carrie are left to investigate…oh and the highly watchable Quinn (Rupert Friend) !!! I don’t believe that Brody is responsible for the bomb but is being set up by Nazir’s “people” to be the scapegoat, and a very believable one at that. A third season is already ordered so Carrie will work to clear Brody’s name…with Saul, I guess. But if the show had ended, I would have been satisfied with Carrie and Brody walking off in the sunset. But since that isn’t the way it’s going to be…YET, I can see future storylines examining who the hell is Saul…REALLY! Could there be any sparks between Quinn and Carrie…hey, I’m just thinking. He respects her CIA abilities and I think he likes and trusts her, too, And what will Brody be doing in Canada, investigating on his own?

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David Koechner — character actor, stand-up comedian and Tipton native

David Koechner can be seen in the new film Hit and Run, which opens today and stars real-life couple Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell.

 

Click here  to see the latest Missouri e-Life:

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Missouri eLife October 2011

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Oprah — Gone But not Forgotten

I watched the two-day extravaganza as celebrity after celebrity trotted out to say goodbye to Oprah a bit in denial. It just didn’t seem possible that the icon was closing her shop after 25 years. But she did and she’s gone…at least on network television. But instead of retiring and writing her memoir Oprah has a cable network to run and one that’s not doing so great. Sure it’s a new network, but I can’t help but remember her involvement in Oxygen years ago, even though she was only part of the equation. Now she’s running the show or she better be and it’s obvious to anyone that Oprah better be a much bigger part of the programming equation. . .both on screen and off. I watched the reality shows about the Judds and Shania Twain and they’re ok, and the Master Class is compelling but it’s the beyond the scenes of the Oprah show that’s the hit of the network so far. Whether you found Oprah a bit too much in the past, she was a constant in the daytime landscape and more often than not her guests were provocative and inspiring and she tackled the big issues of our times. But Oprah is alway the draw…always bigger than the celebrity or the guest. She is the most powerful woman in the world but we will all have to watch and see if she can save her network. She admitted that OWN was a huge risk to her legacy, especially if it fails but no one can ever diminish what she has accomplished as a woman, as a television visionary and as a  leader of people. She may be gone but she’ll never be forgotten!!!

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TUESDAY NIGHT — NEW EPISODES OF THE GOOD WIFE and PARENTHOOD

Wish they weren’t on at the same time, but Tuesday night offers two of my favorite broadcast network shows…The Good Wife and Parenthood. And tonight’s episodes are both new and that’s reason to celebrate.

Michael J. Fox’s rebel lawyer is back to spar with Alicia (Juliana Margulies) and it’s prom night for Amber (Mae Whitman) Haddie (Sarah Ramos), which has her dad, Adam (Peter Krause), really stressed out.

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Pilar Alessandra’s The Coffee Break Screenwriter: Writing Your Script Ten Minutes at a Time

As an in-demand script consultant/instructor,  Pilar Alessandra is first a writer’s advocate (www.onthepage.tv). She’s also written a new book, The Coffee Break Screenwriter: Writing Your Script Ten Minutes at a Time that’s a very helpful tool for the screenwriter as the tips and exercises offered can be accomplished in short bursts of time, whether it’s the first or the eighth draft of a screenplay or originaly television pilot or spec.

“I wrote the book for the writer who doesn’t yet know she is a writer;  the one who has a story crawling around in her brain but thinks that she’s too busy or too much of a Hollywood outsider to write a screenplay.  I’ve worked with people from all over and I’ve seen how much they can get done when they’re given ten-minutes of focused writing time and some accessible writing tools to help them get started,” said Alesandra.  
 
“It’s also for the seasoned writer who needs to streamline his writing process:  the one who tears his hair out with long outlines, then labors over every word.  There’s a quicker, more efficient way to write that departs from some of the old-school ways of thinking about story and structure.  Once the writer is freed from that, he can play, experimenting with new choices for his story and characters.
I also know that everyone is busy theses days.  It’s hard to find focused writing time.  That’s why I’ve broken the book down into ten minute chunks.  Nail a sequence in your outline. Move on.  Nail a scene. Move on.  Nail a great character moment.  Move on.  Finish quickly.  Rewrite where you need it.  Polish it on your free time.  Kick it out the door.”  Pilar Alessandra
Instructor/Consultant:  On the Page, Inc.
work: (818) 905-8124
podcast: www. onthepagepodcast.com

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