out this week 5/12 & 5/19...tori amos...iron & wine...true blood...jarvis cocker...bricolage...

Posted by Brad Schelden, May 21, 2009 12:40pm | Post a Comment
six feet under cast
When I first moved to Los Angeles 7 or 8 years ago I became obsessed with Six Feet Under. I remember going to work one day and one of my coworkers talked about the show for hours. She couldn't believe that I was not watching it. However, I didn't have HBO and I don't think the show was out on DVD yet. I didn't even have a DVD player yet. VHS releases of TV shows were starting to disappear so I didn't really have any way to watch it-- so it might have been Six Feet Under that made me finally give in and get a DVD player. My first DVD purchase was The Muppet Movie, but I think my second or third purchase was the first season of Six Feet Under. It had been a while since I had been obsessed with a really good TV show. I still managed to watch the entire Twin Peaks series about once a year, but there wasn't much else out there. It was just that I didn't have HBO. I had heard about all these new shows, but still had never watched Oz or the Sopranos. These shows would later become some of my favorites as I started to collect the DVDs and eventually was forced to get HBO again. I don't want to sound like an advertisement for HBO, but it really did change the way I looked at TV and really gave me many enjoyable viewing hours. Six Feet Under came at a perfect time in my life. The show took place in the Los Angeles area and was filmed just down the street from Amoeba at the Gower studios. I somehow felt the show was speaking directly to me. And I somehow felt more involved with it since it was filmed so close to me and took place in a city so close to my heart. It was also nice to see a gay character as one of the lead roles in a drama series. I have always had a love/hate sort of relationship with Los Angeles, but this show made me love it just a little bit more. The five seasons of the show took me on a long and intense journey. I fell in love with all the characters and started to think of them as my family. The show followed me back to San Francisco, where it eventually ended in 2005. This was one of those shows that I really did love but it also just sort of tortured me when I watched it. Not only was every episode dealing with somebody's death, but it was also dealing with all the characters' messed up lives at the same time. It was an intense journey. The thing that made this show so fantastic was the cast. The mix of the brilliant writing with the perfect cast was a magical combination -- and it doesn't really happen that often. The leads were all perfect. Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, and Lauren Ambrose were perfect as the siblings of the house. Frances Conroy was brilliant as their mother. The show just had a list of some of my favorite or soon to be favorite actors -- Rachel Griffiths, Freddy Rodriguez, Jeremy Sisto, Lili Taylor, Kathy Bates, Richard Jenkins, Rainn Wilson, Justin Theroux, Mena Suvari, Veronica Cartwright, Illeana Douglas, and Catherine O'Hara. And Patricia Clarkson and Joanna Cassidy were nothing short of brilliant as the aunt and mother in law. I wish they could have been in every episode, I don't think any TV show will ever get a better cast...although Mad Men comes very close.

The finale of SIx Feet Under still remains the most intense hour of television I have ever seen. I really didn't want the show to end, but sometimes five seasons is enough. I would have hated to see the show go on when it didn't really need to. I don't want to explain too much about the finale in case you have never seen it, but the show basically did what I have always wanted a show to do. It answered that question, "But what becomes of all these characters after the show ends?" Sort of the exact opposite of the approach that The Sopranos took with their season finale. I understand that this is not appropriate for every show. Sometimes it is great to just be left with an unknown future for the cast. You can sort of make up your own future for them. I sure wouldn't want to know what lies ahead of me in my own life. It would get rid of any excitement and wonder. But it was a perfect way to end a show that dealt with death. I have watched this episode only twice, but sometimes I think of just skipping ahead and watching it once more. I will most likely be making the journey and watching the whole series again at some point in the next couple of years. I will just have to wait until then to experience that final episode once again. But it is seriously so intense that I can make myself cry just thinking about.

The reason that Six Feet Under is on my mind is because of another show by the same creator. The genius behind Six Feet Under was Mr. Alan Ball. His new show is called True Blood. The show aired on HBO last year. The first season is out on DVD this week. Season two premiers next month on June 14th. It is the perfect summer show. It takes place in Lousiana, so I always feel hot and sweaty when I watch it. I still have never been to Lousiana but I just imagine it always being hot and humid there. There is also not usually much on TV in the summer, so it is the perfect time to get a show like this. Hopefully you have already watched the show and fallen in love with it like I have, but if not, you still have some time to pick up season one and get all caught up in time for season two. But you do probably need to at least have a mild interest in vampires to really get into the show. Hopefully you have at least read Interview with the Vampire or at the very least seen the movie. I have been a fan of vampires since I can remember. I have always liked horror movies and horror fiction. Vampires are the perfect subject for novelization. Maybe you wouldn't want to live forever yourself but it is still a very interesting subject to explore. True Blood is one of those great shows that really brings you into the city it takes place in. This story could not really take place in any other place and they capture this small town perfectly. I have never been there in person but I feel like I have because the sets and art direction are so perfect. The cast is also close to perfect. I originally thought Anna Paquin seemed a bit too young for this show, but she has grown up. Unlike other child actors like Katie Holmes and Christina Ricci, she still doesn't look like she is 10 years old. It is always strange watching an actor or actress grow up in front of the camera. Sometimes it is hard to see them as an adult. Anna Paquin got off to a great start with her career. She won an Oscar for her very first film, The Piano, in 1993. She has been acting ever since but I really have not seen her in anything memorable since then. It is as if she was just trying to find part a like this for the last 15 years. I am glad she finally found it. Or it found her.

Vampire films and TV shows always have the risk of being a bit cheesy. I don't really know how you can make a vampire not seem a little silly. That is part of their charm I guess. Buffy the Vampire Slayer sort of embraced the funny aspects of being a vampire and combined humor with the horror. There is always a bit of comic relief in most vampire movies. There is just something funny about vampires for some reason. True Blood also does a good job of combining a bit of humor with the horror. The show did take a couple of weeks to grown on me. I hadn't decided that I really loved the show until about half way through it. I feel like most shows are like this -- it takes some time for you to get to know and love the characters. You really need to care about the characters and what happens to them. There is really no reason to follow the show if you don't have that connection. That is what keeps you coming back every week. You feel invested in their lives. The first season is only 12 episodes, so you really could watch it all in one day, or maybe stretch it out into one long weekend. That is the best way to watch these shows. That is how I watched most of Six Feet Under and The Sopranos. It is sometimes hard to wait a whole week to find out what happens next. The show is also available in Blu-Ray, which I also highly recommend. I watched this show originally in HD so I imagine the Blue-Ray also looks fantastic. There are a couple special features in the box set, but it is really just all about the show. You don't really need anything else. The show is based on the set of books by Charlaine Harris. I imagine the books to probably be even more entertaining than the show. I will most likely be exploring these very shortly. They are on my list of books to read. This show is so much better than that other movie that was also based on a series of vampire books. While I am sure there are way more Twilight fans out there in the world, True Blood actually does the vampire story right, but I guess Twilight is aimed at the younger generations. When the Twilight fans get a bit older they will now have something to look forward to. I am just glad that this show is now on DVD for everybody to enjoy. And I can't wait for season two to start! I have missed my television friends.

also out 5/12...

Mind the Drift by Big Business

Bricolage by Bricolage

OK Bear by Jeremy Enigk

Lost Verses Live by Mark Kozelek

Magnolia by The Wooden Birds

also out 5/19...

Abnormally Attracted To Sin by Tori Amos

Around the Well by Iron & Wine

Eats Darkness by Apostle of Hustle

Still Night, Still Light by Au Revoir Simone

Catastrophe Ballet by Christian Death

Clues by Clues

Further Complications by Jarvis Cocker

Rotting Slowly by The Curious Mystery

Super Animal Brother by Ear Pwr

Relapse by Eminem

Yesterday & Today by The Field

Two by Miss Kittin & the Hacker

Polly Scattergood by Polly Scattergood

Nests of Waves & Wires by Tartufi

Terminator Salvation Soundtrack

True Blood Soundtrack

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Jarvis Cocker (3), Tori Amos (11), Iron & Wine (4), Nick Cave (27), True Blood (5)