Tagged: drama

REVIEW: Schindler’s List

Schindler's ListHistory is far more than facts and figures, especially since the text books tend to get watered down by committee or skew to a particular point of view. Instead, history is really the stories of mankind. Who did what, and what drove them to commit those acts? Every era has its known heroes and as historians do their work, it’s also clear there are the lesser known players whose efforts remain equally valuable and their stories worthy of being told.

Few events have spawned more tales of heroism than perhaps World War II. We know of the Axis and Allied generals who made bold moves to change the tide of the conflict and of the American scientists who raced their German counterparts to split the atom and harness their power. Since the 1970s or so, more and more stories have been discovered and told, many about those who endured the war and survived to tell their stories. There’s Elie Weisel and Night, Anne Frank and her diary, and Oskar Schindler and his list. The latter’s story didn’t really come out until Australian writer Thomas Keneally released Schindler’s Ark in 1982 (retitled List for America). Almost immediately, Steven Spielberg snapped up the rights and then spent a decade trying to find the time and approach to honor the work and the man that inspired it.

Hard to believe it’s been 20 years since we sat mesmerized for three hours and sixteen, watching this black and white drama, which won numerous accolades, earning Best Picture and Best Director Academy Awards. Now Universal is releasing Schindler’s List a 20th Anniversary Limited Edition which comes in a combo slipcase with Blu-ray, DVD, Ultraviolet digital. Right up front, it should be noted that Spielberg wanted little attention drawn to the film and it’s making so the special features here are the same ones from the DVD release. But, the director oversaw the high definition transfer and did a masterful job so the film, with Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography, looks wonderful and John Williams’ score sounds even better. It’s nice to have the movie on a single disc so it can be enjoyed uninterrupted.

The story of German industrialist Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) and his efforts to rescue one thousand Jews from death in a concentration camp run by the cruel and psychotic Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes). Yes, Schindler made a profit and could be considered a war profiteer but he did use that money and influence wealth provided him to see to it that people did not die. He worked closely with accountant Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley) in crafting the typewritten list of names that became the symbol of survival.

The special features that do reappear here are worthwhile, starting with Voices From the List (77 minutes) as Spielberg hosts a series of interviews with Holocaust survivors and witnesses; USC Shoah Foundation Story with Steven Spielberg (5 minutes); About IWitness (4 minutes), an online application allowing educators and students to access more than 1,000 video testimonies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses.


Time has not diminished the film’s power nor has its message been obscured by the director and performers’ other works. Nor has the deluge of Holocaust and WW II memoirs changed that each is a piece of a tapestry telling a story of when a world teetered on the tip of a pyramid, plunging one way towards peace and another towards unspeakable horror. While the stakes were never higher, the stories of people from both sides need to be heard and understood, seeing who had the courage of their convictions to do what was right despite the odds and personal dangers. Oskar Schindler wasn’t the only one, but saving some 1200 people is an accomplishment few other German civilians could claim.

For those who saw it when they were younger should see it again. For those with children in the intervening 20 years, should show it to them to understand what it means to be a Good Person. Its important film making and a powerful testament to the global outreach of the movies.



THE MASK OF THE RED PANDA #1 the first issue (of 3) of New Pulp Creator and all around Creative Genius Gregg Taylor’s comic based on his Red Panda series is available right now from Comixology.


Racketeers, gangsters, the occasional power-mad supervillain— all have fallen before the iron resolve of the city’s masked protectors. But when forces with powers from beyond this world threaten to bring their war to the streets of Depression-era Toronto, can even the Red Panda prevent disaster? Bringing to life characters from The Red Panda Adventures, Decoder Ring Theatre’s award-winning radio drama series, Mask of the Red Panda is pulse-pounding pulp perfection for all those who love the classic two-fisted adventures of the golden age of radio, classic movie serials and the hero pulps. – See more at: http://www.comixology.com/Mask-of-Red-Panda-1/digital-comic/DIG003156/?app=1#sthash.wWyRkBam.dpuf

32 pages of story for $0.99.  Art by Dean Kotz and published by MonkeyBrain Comics.  

Mindy Newell: Isabel’s Review

Newell Art 130121Last night the whole family went out to dinner to celebrate my father’s 90th birthday. And as regular readers of this column know, this is a birthday to truly celebrate. Less than a month after suffering a stroke with seizure complications, less than a month from bringing him home to die, my father is up and about. Not only has he recovered 99% of the use of his left arm and leg, he’s able to dress himself and perform most of the ADL’s (that’s Activities of Daily Living for you non-medical types) without assistance. Yes, he’s walking with the aid of a walker, but let me tell you, folks, I wouldn’t place odds against him in a race against The Flash. He’s zooming down the hallways of the rehab center like a bat out of hell.

And the best sign of all? He’s grumpy again, turning around to harummph at my mother to “keep up, Laura” as he did a loop around the floor and complaining that he wants to go home. How miraculous is this? Well, last night at the restaurant – for those of you who live in the Cherry Hill, NJ area and are looking for a great dining experience, it was Caffe Aldo Lamberti, a very fine Italian restaurant at the intersection of Route 73 and Haddonfield Road – we bumped into one of my father’s doctors from Cooper University Medical Center, who didn’t even recognize him. “The last time I saw him,” the doctor said, “he was literally at death’s door.”

And while we were out celebrating and toasting and laughing and stuffing our faces – so wildly boisterous, in fact, that our waiter came over to tell us that there was a complaint from one of the tables, to which I said “Screw them!” and my brother said, “My father is 90 years old, he was a death’s door, and if it wasn’t for him they’d be speaking German right now!” – yeah, we were all pretty drunk; even my father had a couple of sips of Glenn’s Kamikaze and my mother’s Pinot Noir – Isabel told me about two wonderful graphic novels she had just finished, Smile and Drama, both by award-winning graphic novelist Raina Telgemeir.

Smile is an autobiographical novel in which Ms. Telgemeir tells the story of the accident which led to the loss of her front teeth when she was 12 years old and its resulting agony of surgeries, implants, and false teeth. Parallel with all of this was Ms. Telgemeir’s experience with her corresponding puberty, with all the roller-coaster joys and terrors of that time in all our lives – crushes, maturing bodies, middle-school cruelties, and changing expectations in herself and from her family.

The New York Times Book Review said about SmileIt hits home partly because there is nothing else out there like it.” Kirkus Reviews said “An utterly charming graphic memoir of tooth trauma, first crushes and fickle friends, sweetly reminiscent of Judy Blume’s work. . . . Irresistible, funny and touching – a must read for all teenage girls.” And Publisher’s Weekly said “A charming addition to the body of young adult literature that focuses on the trials and tribulations of the slightly nerdy.

Drama is the story of a girl named Callie, who is a total theater geek. But she prefers the smell of the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd from backstage, so Callie is the set designer for her school’s production of Moon over Mississippi. And Callie is determined to bring Broadway-worthy sets to her middle school, even if the budget doesn’t exactly match that of Annie. And even if Callie doesn’t know a thing about carpentry. And even if tickets aren’t exactly selling like hot cakes.

And even if Callie’s crew isn’t what you could call a Band Of Brothers. Plus there’s all this “drama” going on between the actors, and those two realllly cute brothers who join the production.

Ada Calhoun of the New York Times said Drama has “an inspirational message for girls, and it’s communicated more subtly here than in Smile. What makes Callie happiest is not catching the eye of that week’s crush, but winning the coveted position of stage manager and finding her place in the world.”

Raina Telgemeir is also the author of four Babysitters Club graphic novels that made the American Library Association (ALA) Top 10 Graphic Novels for Youth 2007 list, as well as being selected by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) as a Great Graphic Novel for Youth that same year. Ms. Telgemeir also co-authored X-Men: Misfits, a graphic novel that was on the New York Times Graphic Books Bestseller list. She has been published by Random House, DC, and Nickelodeon Magazine, and her comics have been nominated for the Ignatz, Cybil, and Eisner awards.

Accolades that are all very prestigious. Accolades that are all very deserving.

But Isabel said it best:

“There are sooooooooo good.”




The Point Radio: ARCHER Breaks The Rules Again

PT011413ARCHER returns this a week for a new (4th) season on FX, and the cast tells us that they are going even farther than before – plus the new time travel drama, CONTINIUUM, debuts on SyFy tonight and we have the star, Rachel Nichols, giving us a sneak preview. Also, comics end the year with more big $$ales and the idea of a Wonder Woman TV pilot rises from the dead.

Also, check MORE of our exclusive interview with AISHA TYLER of ARCHER right here!

Take us ANYWHERE! The Point Radio App is now in the iTunes App store – and it’s FREE! Just search under “pop culture The Point”. The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any other  mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Martha Thomases: Soap

Thomases Art 130111Oh, Pine Valley! I have missed you so!

But my prayers have been answered, and All My Children will soon be back, if only on the Internet. And while it won’t feel real to me unless they get back Erica Kane or Zach, I think this is a real win for those of us who like our entertainment niche.

Soap operas are not new. They were a staple of radio drama and easily made the transition to television. Usually, the focus would be on one or two families, and the drama that resulted when love, greed, hate and intrigue enmeshed them with each other and their neighbors.

Conventional wisdom maintained that this kind of entertainment was for women, especially housewives. They would watch “their stories” as they did the ironing or dusted. Every day, for 30 to 60 minutes (including commercials), they could vicariously experience the lives of beautiful people, with a cliffhanger at the end, ensuring a date with tomorrow’s show. When (white, middle-class) women went into the workforce in large numbers in the 1970s, it was assumed the genre would die.

That didn’t happen.

Instead, the soap opera mutated. It invaded primetime, where shows like Dallas and Dynasty were monster hits. Soap elements – relationship dramas among the characters that couldn’t be solved with a laugh, a gunfight, or magic – invaded cop shows, doctor shows and more. Do you think you’d have The Sopranos without General Hospital? If so, you think wrong.

(My point is not that David Chase is a soap opera fan – although he may be – but that network executives wouldn’t have gone for the pilot without a profitable precedent.)

What ultimately drove the soaps off network television was the cost, and the continued segmentation of the audience. It’s expensive to have daily shows with big casts, big sets, and lots of writers. The talk shows that replaced the soaps are way cheaper, and product placement is much easier (although I will always remember with fondness the month that AMC had Campbell’s Soup as a sponsor, and therefore soup solved everything). They don’t get the same audience as the soaps, but they don’t need to.

The solution? The Internet. It’s taken a while for the producers to get it together with finances, and unions, but now it looks like they have.

It’s an interesting parallel to comics. Hollywood is making a ton of money from superheroes, but sales of floppies appeal to a much, much smaller audience. And, again, the Internet provides a way not only to grow the readership, but to level the playing field for those creators (and readers) who don’t want to limit themselves to one genre, or one business model.

The folks trying to resuscitate All My Children have already signed up Angie. Get Tad, and I’m there.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman


Mindy Newell: The Culture Cult

Newell Art 130107I was listening to NPR the other day – I think it was Leonard Lopate’s show – and the guest was television critic Alan Sepinwall, who used to write for New Jersey’s Star-Ledger and now has a regular column discussing television on Hitfix.com. Mr. Sepinwall is the author of the just published The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers And Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever, in which he hypothesizes that the same old same-old television drama in which the hero wears a white hat, the bad guy is in black, and truth, justice, and the American way prevails by the end of an episode, with all elements of the plot neatly wrapped up with a bow and placed under the Christmas tree (or Hanukah menorah) and with no messy, lingering thoughts to bother the viewer – is dead, gone the way of the dodo bird.

I found the conversation extremely interesting, especially as the shows Mr. Sepinwall believes are responsible for the new landscape of television drama are those usually associated with the word cult.

Cult, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, has several meanings, but in this case the one that applies is: a great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad; (b) the object of such devotion; (c) a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion.

As in “the cult cop show The Shield.”  Or “the cult science fiction show Battlestar Galactica.” Or “the cult teenage horror-fantasy show Buffy The Vampire Slayer.” Or “the cult late 1950s – early 1960s drama Mad Men.”

I think this usually means that the person describing these shows really thinks “I haven’t seen it, but my colleague/competitor is raving about it, so I’d better get on the bandwagon so I can sound just as cool and auteur as he/she does.” It can also mean “everybody is talking about it in the office, and I don’t want to sound like I don’t know what they’re talking about, so I’ll just go along with whatever they’re saying.” Or it can mean “I tried watching it, and I just don’t get it, but my wife/kids/best friend/boss loves it, so I better pretend like I do.”

It also usually means that the shows don’t have the greatest ratings, but the network executives love the prestige and the publicity and being thought of as brilliant by the television critics who rave about the shows. (Hey, who doesn’t love an ego boost?)

These are the shows that Mr. Sepinwall believes ushered in a new “golden age” of television drama:

Oz (HBO, 1997 – 2003)

The Sopranos (HBO, 1999 – 2007)

The Wire (HBO, 2002 – 2008)

Deadwood (HBO, 2004 – 2006)

The Shield (FX, 2002 – 2008)

Lost (ABC, 2004 – 2010)

Buffy The Vampire Slayer (The WB, 1997 – 2003)

24 (Fox, 2001 – 2010)

Battlestar Galactica (Sci-Fi Channel, 2004 – 2009)

Friday Night Lights (NBC, 2006 – 2011)

Mad Men (AMC, 2007 – Present)

Breaking Bad (AMC, 2008 – Present)

Mr. Sepinwall also gives note to those shows he believes were the “building blocks” of this new millennial golden age of television:

Hill Street Blues (NBC, 1981 -1987)

St. Elsewhere (NBC, 1982 – 1988)

Cheers (NBC, 1982 – 1993)

Miami Vice (NBC, 1984 – 1989)

Wiseguy (CBS, 1987 – 1990)

Twin Peaks (ABC, 1990 – 1991)

Homicide: Life On The Street (NBC, 1993 – 1999)

NYPD Blue (ABC, 1993 – 2005)

The X-Files (Fox, 1993 – 2002)

ER (NBC, 1994 – 2009)

I never considered Cheers or ER or even The Sopranos cult hits. But reading the book, I understood why Mr. Sepinwall included them – all of the shows took chances, whether it was in the scripts or in the use of the production values such as camera work or even simple casting. I also found, as I read the book, that it was really not so surprising that so many of the people involved both behind and in front of the camera have intertwined histories, or that at one point or another in their careers they believed themselves to be “hamstrung” by the parameters of the shows with which they were involved, whether through executive interference or through mythology.

Ron Moore described the mythos of Star Trek as a “fly stuck in amber.” Bottom line, every single one of them, whether network executive or producer or writer or actor, had a desire, an eagerness, a need to break barriers. Sometimes it was because, as in the case of the WB and Buffy, a “what the hell, what have we got to lose?” attitude, as a network tried to establish itself as a viable competitor to the “Big Three” and cable. And sometimes it was because one executive believed in the vision of one writer, as in the case of Bonnie Hammer and Ron Moore.

If you’re a cultist like me (also known as a nerd or a geek), I recommend you read this book.

•     •     •     •     •

On a personal note… The Newells have been participants in an honest-to-God miracle.

My father suffered a stroke on Christmas Eve that progressed to continuous seizure activity. After four days in the hospital, with nothing left to do, we brought him home to die surrounded by the family he loved him.

On New Year’s Eve, he woke up.

He has no memory of that week. He has residual left side weakness, but he is getting stronger every day with the help of physical and occupational therapy. And he has the appetite of an elephant. Yesterday all he wanted was a pastrami sandwich on rye with mustard, which he ate vigorously.

He’s not out of the woods yet, but he’s got his throttle all the way open, and his nose up in the air and he’s pushing the envelope, chasing the demons that live in the sky.




A Doctor A Day – “Army of Ghosts / Doomsday”

Using the new Doctor Who Limited Edition Gift Set, your noble author will make his way through as much of the modern series as he can before the Christmas episode, The Snowmen.

The mysterious spectral shapes that have been appearing across London are not what they appear.  What becomes a Doctor Who fan’s greatest wish come true starts as an…

by Russell T Davies
Directed by Graeme Harper

“Daleks have no concept of elegance.” “This is obvious.”

Returning to Earth, The Doctor and Rose are surprised to learn that ghosts have been appearing all over the world.  Rather than being met with fear, they’ve become a national phenomenon.  People await their by-the-clock appearances and disappearances daily, and happily discuss the visitations with each other and on the TV.  What they don’t realize is they’re actually being caused by experiments at the Torchwood Institute, attempting to perfect a machine that would cross dimensional barriers to obtain new energy sources.  But even that is only means to an end, to open a mysterious sphere that resists all testing and analysis.  As The Doctor attempts to analyze the ghosts, Torchwood detects the shift in the field and realizes he’s in the area.  So when he identifies the source and heads there, they’re ready for him.

Following from Queen Victoria’s dictate, Torchwood exists to study alien technology as a defense for the nation, and they view The Doctor as an enemy, regardless of the number of times he’s saved the world.  He’s immediately taken into custody and the TARDIS impounded.  Showing him the sphere, he identifies it as a void ship, designed to travel, and hide, in the space between dimensions. He convinces them to stop the testing, but the people (well, I say people…)  behind the breach have been slowly taking over the staff, and they initiate a final breach, and stand revealed as…Cybermen.  The ghosts across the world fully materialize as Cybermen, and almost immediately seize control.

Ah, so they’re hiding in that void ship sphere, right?  Wellll, no.  The Void Ship was what pushed through to our world first, a weakness the Cybermen took advantage of.  It’s a life raft for a race that thought they would not survive its final battle.  It’s the Daleks.  Carrying a Genesis Ark, they plan to repopulate the world with new Daleks, and with no Time Lords to stop them, nothing should stop them from conquering the universe.

Well…ONE Time Lord.  And luckily, a small army from Pete’s world, who cobbled together technology to follow the Cybermen through the Void.  But is that going to be enough to fight the two most powerful enemies The Doctor has ever faced at once?

The Doctor Who team did a great job keeping the return of the Daleks secret, basically by making it blatant that the Cybermen were returning.  There’s not a Whofan on Earth who hasn’t considered how cool a Cybermen/Dalek team-up would be, and to finally see it was a surprise indeed. The first discussion between the two foes is absolutely hilarious.


A great close of the season, and a happy ending for Rose and Jackie.  Following up on the idea of alternate universe replacements, Pete has almost no hesitation in accepting “our” Jackie and Rose as his new family, and since it meets the happy ending parameters we want, we do as well.

The Cybermen got a small upgrade in this adventure, the retractable wrist-cannon.  They had no offensive weapon in the earlier adventure, and had to “delete” their enemies hand-to-hand.  We also saw a rather big change to the Daleks as well, with the Cult of Skaro, three Daleks bred to have independent thought, to come up with ideas that a normal brute-force Dalek never could.  It’s an idea that had been addressed before, with the need to find Davros in Destiny of the Daleks.

The original “Ghostwatch” was a very controversial one-shot special presented on the BBC in 1992, and never repeated in the UK.  Presented as a reality/documentary show about ghosts, it was in fact a staged drama.  British chat show legend Michael Parkinson  hosted what was to be a live investigation of spectral activity in a house in North London eventually resulted in the ghosts taking control of the broadcast and remotely possessing Parkinson as the show ended.  Even though it was touted as a drama, complete with “written by” and cast credits in the opening, the show was met with a reaction similar to the classic War of the Worlds broadcast.  There’s copies of it floating about the Internet, and is well worth a look.

Musical motifs from what would become the Torchwood theme appear in this episode’s score, which rather makes sense since Murray Gold provides the music for both.

Yes, that is Freema Aygeman as a worker at Torchwood.  Doctor Who has become almost legendary at choosing from its own for larger parts— Eve Myles will be back shortly for Torchwood, and Karen Gillan made her first appearance as a prophetess in The Fires of Pompeii.  It didn’t start in the new series, either.  Colin Baker, Doctor number six, first appeared as Commander Maxil in Arc of Infinity.

A Doctor A Day – “New Earth”

Using the new Doctor Who Limited Edition Gift Set, your noble author will make his way through as much of the modern series as he can before the Christmas episode, The Snowmen.

A trip to the future, a return of a foe presumed dead (get used to THAT one) and a moral conundrum.  And it all happens on…

by Russell T Davies
Directed by James Hawes

“It’s like living inside a bouncy castle!”

The Doctor and Rose travel back to the five billions, to the time after The End of The World, to New Earth, the city of New15 York. The Doctor got a message from someone via his psychic paper, asking him to come to his aid at a nearby hospital.  But someone is watching, and as soon as the pair try to enter the elevators, they are separated.  Rose is sent to the basement, and is confronted by Lady Cassandra O’Brien, the last pureblood human, and the baddie behind the events on Platform One.  Saved from her apparently grisly death by cloning a new “body” from leftover parts (parts from the …back), she barely survives in the basement of the hospital, and has made plans to move on.  And for Rose to come along, another pureblood human, specifically one responsible for nearly killing her…well, when the fates hand you an opportunity like that…  Cassandra uses a device to transplant her mind into Rose’s body, and begins to take stock of new assets.

The Doctor, meanwhile, was summoned by The Face of Boe, who he met on Platform One as well.  The Face is dying, and his nurse, Novice Hame, explains that legend says that as he dies, he will impart great knowledge to someone like him, “A traveler, a lonely god”.

Amazingly, Cassandra’s not the real threat.  The Sisters of Plenitude, a feline race who run the hospital, have been breeding clones expressly to infect with every disease known to man, for the purpose of finding cures for them.  They maintain the clones are not sentient, but as soon as they’re awakened, that’s immediately proven untrue.  The Doctor starts to investigate, and also starts to notice that Rose knows a bit more about technology of the year five billion than she should.

So The Doctor has to find out the secrets of the hospital, get Rose back in charge of her own body, shut down a sect of cat-nuns, and stop a horde of disease-ridden clones from overrunning the place.  Not a bad first day out…

The Christmas episode was a bit different from later ones would be – it was the first appearance of the new Doctor, and was more “in continuity” with the rest of the season, as opposed to being a stand-alone adventure. It also features other recurring characters, as opposed to later specials that would only feature The Doctor and all-new characters. Functionally, it’s the first episode of this season.  So this episodes starts shortly after the special, with The Doctor and Rose off on new adventures, already with a much lighter tone.

Both Billie Piper and David Tennant get to camp it up a bit as Rose and The Doctor get inhabited by Cassandra, with the requisite fun and silly accents.  Davies excels at keeping a balance between drama and humor in his stories, and this one’s a good example.

One could argue that this plot is an argument against various forms of experimentation.  I prefer to stand by Dr. Mordin Solus’ philosophy from mass Effect – “Use of sentient beings in scientific tests disgusting. Have personal standard – Never experiment on species with members capable of calculus. Simple rule, never broke it.”

We see a new emotional side to The Doctor here.  Not only is this the first time he’s “Sorry…so sorry” at the site of the clones, it’s also the first time he gives a foe who truly deserves it a merciful end.  One of the things we see him do many times is offer threatening aliens a chance to leave in peace.  Sometimes they refuse, and his judgment is swift and hard, sometimes others pull the trigger (like Harriet Jones did last episode) and he’s just as merciless on them, but sometimes, if they deserve it, he helps them.  Cassandra really did try to help at the end, and once she came to peace with her fate, The Doctor gave her a chance to at least die happy.

The payoff to the promise from the Face of Boe wouldn’t come till next season, tying into the Big Bad for that season.  So even though Moffat is doing it with more deliberation, Davies was also setting up multi-year plotlines, teasing events quite a ways off.  Looking back like this, it’s amazing how many things we ascribe to Moffat were already being done from the beginning.  More fodder for the “who’s a better showrunner” argument, certainly.

Dennis O’Neil: She-Spies

Fictional spies seem to come in two varieties, with numerous subsets: There are the glamorous and super-competent who bop around the globe, always traveling first class, driving lavishly sports cars, staying at palatial hotels, indulging in expensive cuisine and exotic liquor and comely members of the opposite sex and killing bad guys and saving civilization from slightly caricatured nut cases. (Bond – James Bond.)

If you can ignore the authoritarian subtext, mentioned in his space last week, and if you aren’t bothered by the veneration of conspicuous consumption, this almost-fantasy can be excellently entertaining, and often I have been excellently entertained by it.

This kind of secret agent is currently represented on television by Covert Affairs, a show in which the superspy is a woman incarnated by Piper Perabo. Her character isn’t quite as over-the-top as Bond, and thus far her opponents haven’t been any more caricatured than most televised antagonists, but she is one tough jet-setter who doesn’t stay in hostels when abroad and seems to have no qualms about her profession. She is part of a CIA unit that functions as a surrogate family, has a brotherly colleague with whom she has a platonic (so far) relationship, and even a biological sister. Oh, and she’s gorgeous. Did I mention that – the gorgeousness?

The other kind of fictional spy is a lot less fun. You find him/her in print in the novels of John LeCarre and Graham Greene and on the screen in movies made from those novels, and, I guess, some others. On the screen in your living room, this brand of spy is represented by another woman who is a far distance from Ms Perabo’s Annie Walker. Claire Danes’s Carrie Mathison, of Homeland fame, is deeply conflicted and in need of psychiatric help, which she got in the last episode of the previous season in the form of shock therapy. Ouch!

She has a love-hate relationship with her primary antagonist and doesn’t always mesh with her fellow CIAers. She usually looks unhappy and she’s been known to raise her voice. Her world is dark and the mortal climate is ambiguous: watching Homeland this week, I saw a beautifully written and played scene in which Carrie and a terrorist debated the righteousness of their respective causes and neither was in error. Grey is apparently the universe’s hue of choice and Homeland reflects that.

So what kind of spy story is better? Hey, no need for such a comparison. There is absolutely nothing wrong with pure entertainment and I would sashay along Annie Walker’s path any time. But – maybe drama should occasionally try for something more than entertainment. Maybe it should reflect the perplexities of the real world and maybe it should prompt us to question inherited wisdom and assumptions and so, if we were indulging in pointless comparisons (and we’re not! We’re not!) Carrie would be the more valuable she-spy.

But I’d still rather sashay with Annie.

RECOMMENDED LISTENING: The Science of Natural Healing, presented by Dr. Mimi Guarneri and available from The Teaching Company. The information Dr. Guarneri gives us could conceivably save lives. Stuff everyone should know.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases – Where Are The New Nerds?



The Point Radio: Matthew Perry Beats The FRIENDS Curse

After two previous attempts, Matthew Perry has broken the alleged “FRIENDS Curse” and struck comedy gold again with NBC’s GO ON. Matthew shares the secret of mixing comedy and drama and making it all work. Plus Andrew Lincoln and Chandler Riggs tells us how the cast of WALKING DEAD reacts when one of their fellow stars meets their fate.

The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.