Tuesday, March 30, 2004

TV Notes:

Be sure to watch part 2 of "The New Americans' tonight on PBS. Part 1 last night was a facinating look at the pre-immigration moments that must not be forgotten - the sacrifice, the idealism, the beauracracy, the family left behind, etc. It focussed on focussed on Dominican baseball players, Nigerian (Ogoni political) refugees and a Palestinian woman longing for opportunity. The film was co-produced by Steve James (best-known for Hoop Dreams) and is a monumental effort that spanned 4 years and 4 continents. Tonight the more stereotypical migrants come into view - a Mexican meatpacker and Indian tech guy. Through the heart wrenching individual strories, we see a world that pushes people to leave places they love and family they cherish. We see a fictionalized, imagined America where the dreams of not just families, but entire villages, rest hopefully. And from reading about tonight's show, we will be better able to judge the payoff (is it better to be poor surrounded by poverty or poor surrounded by rich?). A Dominican is accused of rape and the woman who sticks up for him has her mailbox bombed. The Nigerian chemical engineer and political activist has to wash floors in a hotel and the Palestinian couple comes up against the 9/11 backlash. Essential... give this 20 minutes and you'll be hooked.

Significant Others on Bravo may be the funniest television show I have ever seen. Seriously, if you love Curb Your Entusiasm or the Office, but wish they would pick up the pace, you should love this reality show farce. The show is largely improvisational and centers around 4 couples who have just begun marriage counseling. The comedy comes in the "damn, that is us" look that my girl and I can't keep down when watching as well as being able to watch both sexes explain different situations and confrontations in front of the supposed therapist. And I think the improv aspect just heightens the timing, delivery and honesty of the dialogue between the immensely talented actors (many of which were apparently from the LA Groundlings troupe). This show is like a fix. Good thing they have been showing 2 in a row.

Cracking Up is another pretty good new comedy, along the lines (but not as strong as) of Arrested Development. I hope both make it over the ratings hump soon, because quality shows like this seem to always be the first to go from the networks.


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