The Moral Universe of Hannibal

A woman lovingly plucks a dead pheasant. A man places a human arm on a cutting board with care, readying his chef’s knife. A woman sinks into a bathtub, seemingly dropping into an abyss. A corpse is lifted on high, framed by wings made of broken glass.All these images (horrific, gorgeous, . . . . Continue Reading »

Maury's Silent Majority

Maury’s struggling to stay in character. Normally he’s the picture of paternal stability: amused but not belittling, hortatory but not pedantic, firm but not overbearing. This is why they seek him out in their most difficult moments, this parade of wounded people from cash-poor neighborhoods across the country. They flock to his sound stage in Stamford, Connecticut hoping to find the sort of judge, the sort of social worker, the sort of counselor—and yes, the sort of father—that they haven’t encountered elsewhere. Maury Povich gives a fair hearing. But even Maury is occasionally worn thin by the monotony of human weakness, and today is one such day. Continue Reading »

“Wolf Hall” and Upmarket Anti-Catholicism

Wolf Hall, the BBC adaptation of Hillary Mantel’s novel about early Tudor England, began airing on PBS’s “Masterpiece Theater” Easter Sunday night. It’s brilliant television. It’s also a serious distortion of history. And it proves, yet again, that anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable bigotry in elite circles in the Anglosphere.The distortions and bias are not surprising, considering the source. Hillary Mantel is a very talented, very bitter ex-Catholic who’s said that the Church today is “not an institution for respectable people” (so much for the English hierarchy’s decades-long wheedling for social acceptance). As she freely concedes, Mantel’s aim in her novel was to take down the Thomas More of A Man for All Seasons—the Thomas More the Catholic Church canonized—and her instrument for doing so is More’s rival in the court of Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell. Continue Reading »

Parenthood’s Happy Middle

Now drifting into its sixth and final season, NBC’s Parenthood has spent its run alternately pegged for cancellation and heralded as the saving grace of the network’s Thursday-night lineup. Rejecting both courses, it has remained just good enough to get by, just bad enough to remain tolerable. Sometimes better, sometimes worse—but always along the gradient of mediocrity. Continue Reading »

Colbert’s Double Game

The cognoscenti tell me that Stephen Colbert, who is a self-identified faithful member of a Church that teaches that homosexual inclinations are intrinsically disordered and that sodomy is a mortal sin, is a smart guy—a really smart guy. Evidently, his shtick is to adopt the persona of a certain type of individual whom he regards as intellectually and morally inferior to himself so that he can ridicule people of that sort. This, I’m told, is the kind of humor that people who watch Stephen Colbert, who is a self-identified faithful member of a Church that teaches that homosexual inclinations are intrinsically disordered and that sodomy is a mortal sin, relish. Continue Reading »

Breaking Bad, Suffering And Redemption

Okay, so a little more Breaking Bad blogging. Spoilers ahead. Over at the Atlantic, Chris Heller writes that Ozymandias was the fitting conclusion for Breaking Bad because: Nobody is saved and everybody suffers. That’s the ending Breaking Bad needed. Bleak, merciless, and tragic. I think . . . . Continue Reading »

Breaking Bad’s Disappointing Finale

The finale was a very entertaining and sometimes moving disappointment - though a disappointment by the extremely high standards of the show. There were many things to like (spoiler alert, of course). The reptile part of my brain enjoyed watching Jesse choke the life out of Todd. It was even better . . . . Continue Reading »