Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Knots Landing season 5

Knots Landing Season 4 was a transitional year, in which the tone was heightened and the format broadened, but the story-lines themselves -- Karen's romance with the local DA, Val and Gary's tumultuous divorce, Richard's failed restaurant venture, Kenny's quest for a hit album -- remained as comfortably middle-class as ever. Season 5 serves up the last piece of the puzzle -- the enlarging of the situations -- required to bring the series closer in content to the other, higher-rated primetime soaps. But Knots never loses its identity or its way; on the contrary, the result is the series' most exhilarating and satisfying season.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Doctor Who: the Doctors' best and worst performances

When I published my Classic Who countdown last summer, serving up capsule reviews of all 158 classic serials (from my least-liked to my most-loved), friends asked if I had plans to do the same for NuWho. "God, no," I responded -- but I did want to start branching into more NuWho essays, or at least essays that embrace the entire history of the series, from 1963 to the present. And I knew where I wanted to start: with the actors who've played the Doctor, and taking a hard look at their best and worst performances in the role -- the times when they especially shined, and the times when they notably did not. The truth is, Doctor Who has, by and large, been blessed with such extraordinary actors in the title role that it's easy to take their work for granted -- to presume their performances are uniformly strong, and not focus in on the highs and the lows. But actors, like the rest of us, have good days and bad days, and in the case of Doctor Who, there are all kinds of factors that can contribute to the quality of a performance -- just as there are all kinds of criteria I have for judging them. So below, the eleven actors who've essayed the title role (excluding the Eighth Doctor, who had only one full-length appearance), and what I'd consider their best and worst performances -- and why. (In the paragraphs below, I've bolded the stories that contain their best and worst work, but I vary the order in which I present them. Sometimes, I list the good before the bad, sometimes vice versa; if you only look at the titles bolded, you might be surprised, when you ultimately read the text, to discover which is which.)