Archive for January, 2011

Bodie Broadus

Posted in Uncategorized on January 24, 2011 by a4synapse

Unless you’re a “The Wire” afficionado, you have no idea who this is/was.  I’ve been playing catch-up-TV in the November to late-January desert.  Seven weeks of nothing on TV – brutal, inhumane, stultifying.  I needs a fix.  Luckily, it’s beginning to show a pulse, but DAMN!

I would like to award a ‘best promo trailer’ to the folks at FX for the ‘Justified’ Feb. 9 2nd season premiere.  It’s the one where the camera opens with a view of sunlight through the treetops for 3 seconds; then the crunch of a boot on gravel; then a hat rises like a second sun in the frame; then you see Raylan Givens’ face looking down at the camera; he intones: “Hence the phrase: Die Trying.”

I was hoping FX would put the vid on their site, but no luck (or I would have linked to it). UPDATE: here’s the link:

If I ever learn how to embed, I might be dangerous.

Now for a discussion on metaphorical death.  (Tune out now before it’s too late.)  Bingeing on once and future television brings the question of death into sharp focus.  Watching heavy on David Simon and Joss Whedon.  Would have worked some David Milch in there too, but ‘Deadwood” is sometimes too-heavy-a-meal, even in metaphor.  “The Wire” (all 5 seasons); “Firefly” (all 1 season); “Dollhouse” (all 2 seasons (especially the unaired 14th ep from season 1)).  Plus watching BTVS on LOGO, which helpfully goes through all 7 seasons and then begins again.  I’m pretty sure there are extensive edits so they can fit in the endless ads for Ru-Paul and Johnny Weir, which cheapens the experience.

Death is front and center for all these shows.  Usually death at a young and healthy age by violence (guns and vampires favored).  What’s painful for me is that the death of a fictional character is sometimes more painful and the feelings more persistent than the death of someone I know.  This shames me.  I think that I need to remind myself of the brevity and confusion every day.  It’s evolved into a drug.  I wouldn’t know myself without these reminders.  It’s possible that there are two selves; the one that had a relationship with my friend who died (albeit faraway) and the one that had a relationship with a construct on a screen (and from there into the mind of a writer/human being) that is more immediate and sadly, predictable.

“The Wire” killed and wounded characters with aplomb and a fair amount of foreshadowing.  Bodie Broadus was one of the first characters introduced as a kid escaping from a juvenile facility (and rather cleverly).  Over five years, he developed from gofer to murderer to captain to independent.  He was intelligent, and practical, and when it finally became too illogical and impossible, he considered doing the right thing (reasons be damned), and that was the proximate cause of his murder.  The other death that disturbed me was Stringer Bell.  He and his partner Avon Barksdale built an empire from the streets.  When Avon goes to jail, Stringer begins to apply his business school training to the drug trade. One of the funniest scenes was Stringer applying ‘Roberts’ Rules of Order’ to a meeting of his drug captains.  Then he organized a consortium of dealers across the city in order to cut down the random violence, improve reliability of supply and  improve pricing and quality (a really admirable show of management skill).  He still ends up dead at the hands of those he’s betrayed.  The show goes into the cramped rowhouses and backalley slums and hopeful apartment complexes of Baltimore.  It’s so beautiful and terrible to see the city on these terms.  After Stringer’s death, two detectives go into his home to see what they can find.  It is a zen study of color, balance, serenity and line; a detective pulls a copy of Adam Smith’s ‘Wealth of Nations’ from a shelf and asks: ‘Who have I been chasing?’

I had an ‘out-of-body’ experience watching the “Objects In Space” ep of ‘Firefly’ while listening to Joss Whedon comment on the episode which guest-stars Richard Brooks as Jubal Early, bounty hunter on the trail of Simon and River Tam.  It’s been one of my favorite-ever-episodes of television since I first (and only once) saw it in 2003 or ’04.  Richard Brooks is a favorite from very early Law & Order (which I no longer watch); he was an assistant DA and played it with a dryness and elegance that I admired deeply.  His work on this episode is similarly elegant.  Jubal is ‘broken’ (something River knows immediately) as he sneaks aboard Serenity (a typical pun for JW) and uses the ship against its denizens.  Joss talks about Jean-Paul Sartre and “Nausea” and the awful realization of contemplating an object in space and what that means for existence.  Jubal has a conversation with Simon Tam outside River’s empty room about how her space is ‘imbued’ with her essence; this is after Simon tells Jubal that he ‘thought he was ‘Alliance’ – and Jubal replies “I’m like a lion – I have a mighty roar.”  This stuff sends me over the edge, it’s a perfect of how perception misses from one mind to another and yet focuses exactly on the ‘it’s right there’ of it all – and now it’s gone.  River sneaks aboard Jubal’s ship and plays ‘vox ex machina’ with them and turns Jubal’s ship against him.  The final line of the ep is “Well, here I am.”

Also, in the third season of BTVS, there is a gratuitous shot of Angel in the Crawford street mansion, reading Nausea by firelight as Buffy approaches to deal with her existential crisis.

Ahh, ‘Dollhouse’.  The first season definitely started slow and networks have no tolerance for a slow-building, multi-layered meme.  It’s safe to say that the stupidity of the American public spoiled a lot of fun here.  The second season has its terrible beauty.  I have to quibble with the death of Topher Brink, however.  I have a problem with the death as redemption theme.  I hated to see him die, even though he was irretrievably broken.  I thought Fran Kranz did some amazing work here, work which snuck up on me.  Also Enver Gjokaj as Topher Brink was a treasure.  The death which really got me was Paul Ballard in the final episode.  He was there and then he was dead.  That’s it.  The End.