Friday, March 25, 2005

TV: The Office

As someone who has watched every episode of the BBC comedy series at least twice and who regards it as the premiere artistic achievement of this decade (technically I could call it “the premiere artistic achievement of this century,” but that would be excessive), let me say this about the new NBC edition:

I liked it. If I weren’t so familiar with the original Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant version, I’d probably find it hilarious.

The remake is overseen by Greg Daniels, co-creator of KING OF THE HILL (which, despite its long run, remains the most underrated series on television). Daniels clearly knows that he has comic gold here, and he has skillfully Americanized the show while remaining true to the original’s rhythms. I doubt it will ever be as inspired as its inspiration. But I’d certainly watch it again.

Book: All The Flowers Are Dying, by Lawrence Block (2005)

As someone who has referred to Block as my spiritual father more than once (check the Links page if you don’t believe me) and who has read every one of his books about alcoholic ex-cop Matthew Scudder in sequence, let me say this about his latest:

I liked it. A lot.

Block intersperses third-person sections told from the point of view of a serial killer, which I’ve always thought of as the CRIMSON JOY effect after the Robert B. Parker/Spenser novel in which I first encountered it. I’m not a fan of this device, particularly when it means time away from Scudder. But Block employs the technique more effectively here than in the previous Scudder outing HOPE TO DIE, and his effortlessly smooth prose makes these glimpses into madness chilling.

Scudder has aged in real time since 1976’s THE SINS OF THE FATHERS, so FLOWERS is as much a meditation on mortality as a crime novel. The ending packs a true emotional punch, especially for longtime readers. There’s a valedictory air about this book. Then again, I felt the same way about 1998’s EVERYBODY DIES and Scudder came back for more, so it’s clear I have no idea what I’m talking about.

Miscellaneous: Links

Astrology? Hogwash. For insight into your true self, try Popstrology, which is based on what pop song was Number One on the day of your birth. As this New Yorker piece demonstrates, popstrology “has a sneaky way of starting to seem reasonable.”

For the record, I was born under the sign of “Hello, I Love You” by The Doors. And life begins to make a great deal of sense.

My fellow film fanatic Tony Kay has a launched a blog of his own. More importantly, like me, he has taken a bite of THE APPLE.

And in Austria, THE SOUND OF MUSIC gets its first production in a national theater.