British TV and MTV in the U.S. banned this Frankie Goes To Hollywood video for the song “Relax.” Officials were uncomfortable with the guy overtones, apparently. But I really didn’t know what the hell was going on in this video until somebody explained it to me. I mean it felt a little gay pride parade, but I haven’t spent very much time in gay nightclubs, so I don’ t know if there are a lot of fat guys with shaving cream on their face. Anyway, here’s the hit from 1983.
Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot” | Original air date: March 6, 2014
Season 1, Episode 2: “A Bitch Named Karma” | Original air date: March 6, 2014
“Sirens” is a middling new comedy on USA Network about three Chicago paramedics, two of whom belong to the now stock Hollywood character of selfish, dumb men who are guided only by their desire for pleasure.
To the show’s credit, it celebrates this male hedonism rather than show the behavior and then have it berated by moralists. That’s to be expected. One of the producers is comedian Denis Leary, whose last successful show was “Rescue Me,” about New York firefighters after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
“Rescue Me” was at its funniest in scenes of firehouse banter. The same is true for “Sirens.” The comedy is richest when veteran EMTs Johnny (Michael Mosley) and Hank (Kevin Daniels) razz rookie Brian (Kevin Bigley). It’s weaker when it deals with the relationship minutia between Johnny and his estranged girlfriend, Theresa (Jessica McNamee), a Chicago cop.
“Sirens” is weakest when it delves into race-based and sexuality-based jokes. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not opposed to either. Comedy shouldn’t have rules. Sometimes it’s offensive. And people who are offended by things always have the right to not consume those things they don’t like.
What irks me is that this comedy appears to be done because the character of Hank is both African-American and gay. It feels like the writers said, “OK, we’ve got a black and gay guy on the show, now we can say whatever we want as long as the black and gay character laughs.”
The dialogue in the show has reasonable verisimilitude to my experiences with firefighters, cops and EMTs. There’s probably less profanity, but you can only go so far on an NBC-owned basic cable network.
If you’re going to do that humor, though, I want it to be a little braver. Let’s not hide the racial and sexual jokes of straight white men in the dialogue of a gay black man.
Leary was braver with “Rescue Me.” There’s a scene in a “Rescue Me” where the crew must visit sensitivity training because one of the men used an insensitive slur toward a female firefighter. The amount of race-based epithets in that scene had to set some kind of record. It was funny and pointed.
I found myself drifting by the second episode. The guys rescue a jerk after he is hit by lightning. The guy gives them tickets to a Bears’ game against the Packers. But they’re supposed to give a CPR lesson to kids. So, of course, they try to blow it off in order to get to the game only to be caught and chastised by Theresa.
The second episode felt more like an average sitcom. And that’s my biggest worry. The show feels very much like an ordinary sitcom that’s trying very hard to be edgy.
The cast is fine, but the characters are a little too zany. The rookie, Brian, is ridiculously cherubic. Another EMT is a stats wiz. Yet another takes pictures of gory injuries. Everybody has a cute quirk. That’s fine, except quirks are not personalities. And if these characters are to be anything but forgettable, they need something more than what they showed in the first two episodes.
Dierks Bentley songs regularly appear on the country chart, but I had never heard of him until a couple days ago when this catchy single wandered out of my radio. “I Hold On” is the second single from his latest album, “Riser.” The song evokes strong imagery of a battered pickup truck and a worn out guitar as evidence of a man who appreciates long-lasting relationships in his life. Bentley wrote the songs during a period when his father died and his songs are reflective. I’m particularly impressed by the lyric, “What they don’t know is that my dad and me drove her out to Tennessee. And she’s still here and now he’s gone, so I hold on.” Enjoy.
Season 1, Episode 17: “Heavy Meddling” | Original air date: March 6, 2014
One of my favorite scenes in the fine romantic comedy “High Fidelity” is when Barry (Jack Black) comes into Rob’s (John Cusack) record shop and puts on a tape of “Walking On Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves.
Rob quickly shuts off the tape. Barry accuses Rob of listening to “sad old bastard music” after his breakup. Rob says, “I don’t wanna hear sad old bastard music, Barry, I just want something I can ignore.”
This is how I feel about “The Crazy Ones.” It’s something I can ignore. I’m not sure I really want it, but I do ignore it.
Season 7, Episode 17: “The Friendship Turbulence” | Original air date: March 6, 2014
“The Big Bang Theory” offered three stories. None of them were funny. They weren’t offensively bad or stupid. They just weren’t funny. “The Friendship Turbulence” wasn’t worth a shrug, let alone an angry review. Basically, it was something soft to have on the background while browsing the Web for sexy pictures of Kaley Cuoco.
Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Howard (Simon Helberg) insult one another a lot. Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) suggests they stop. So Howard flies with Sheldon to Houston, where Howard is to give a talk at the Kennedy Space Center. The plan has bad turbulence. Sheldon and Raj hold hands and admit they like one another.
Ho-hum. The “plane is crashing and we admit everything” is a Hollywood cliche. It’s right up there with a fruit car rolling out in front of a police car during a high-speed chase.
Penny (Cuoco) turns down a role in the sequel to a movie about an ape rapist. Leonard (Johnny Galecki) suggests it’s not a good idea for her to turn down paid work, even if it’s in a terrible movie. Penny gets mad. Then her car breaks down. So Leonard buys one. She’s not mad anymore.
Penny represents all the worst cliches about women. She gets by on her looks. She manipulates her boyfriend using sex. Her getting a car from Leonard and being teary about it is the kind of money-grubbing, gold-digging metaphor that should make women’s studies professors heads explode. Me? I’m just glad I don’t date anymore. This is the kind of woman I would totally fall in love with and hate myself for loving her beauty and ignoring her inane shallowness.
Raj (Kunal Nayyar) is lonely. This probably has something to do with him being an arrogant, insensitive jerk toward women. He asks Amy (Mayim Bialik) to help him communicate with a woman through his online dating profile. It fails. I think the writers want us to think Raj is just shy and conflicted. But he’s really mean. He’s shallow and has a terrible personality.
Hey, maybe he should hook up with Penny.
Wait. That already happened. Maybe it’s time for this show to retire.