Welcome back to the TV Week That Was. Some good stuff to talk about.
First of all, Showtime had a four episode documentary called “The Putin Interviews.” Filmmaker Oliver Stone spent the last three years having interviews with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. I have to say that most of these episodes felt pretty fluff. Putin comes off very charming and intelligent. I think some of what the Russian leader said was taken too much as truth. There was not enough of questioning or challenging what he said in a situation where, supposedly, there were no questions off limit. Episode four was a little different when the questions on Trump and the Russian hacks came up. Putin, who was cool as a cucumber throughout the previous three episodes, was twitchy and displayed body language that made you believe that he was not telling the truth. It was a distinct change in his tone. During that time, Stone, to his credit, did press Putin on much of what he said and did not let him just say what he wanted. It was probably the most compelling part of the series. However, there is no doubt to what my favorite moment was… and it was unbelievably surreal. Oliver Stone mentioned Stanley Kubrick’s classic “Dr. Strangelove” during their discussion of nuclear weapons and he asked Putin if he had seen the film. Putin responded with a no (or nyet). We then see a series of scenes of the two of them in a large room, watching the DVD of Dr. Strangelove, and it was amazing. Stone had that look on his face as if he were sharing something great with his friend, and Putin sat there with a humorless expression on his face. Truly, the most surreal moment of the entire thing. I can’t even wrap my head around it.
What else happened this week…
Twin Peaks. I have to say, as a lover of the original series and a definite Peaks Freak, I have been somewhat disappointed with the new series so far. I am ready for the whole “Dougie” stuff to come to an end. I understand that Agent Cooper needs to show some off-balance behavior after returning from 25 years in the White Lodge, but I am ready for him to “wake up,” as he was told by Mike. There also seems to be less of the art in this series, replaced by simple violence. The scene of the little boy being run down by the truck and the scene of the midget stabbing the woman to death seem out of place with the elegance of the rest of the series. Maybe it is because there are no brakes on David Lynch as there were on the original series, but those moments lose a lot of their power, I believe, with the gratuitous nature of their presentation. Understand, I am still on board with Twin Peaks and I have no intention of stopping my viewing of the show, but it just has not captured the same place in my heart as the first series did. I must say though the arrival of Diane was a welcome moment. I could use more narrative. It really feels like a series of individual scenes without any through line. Perhaps that will still come, but I would like it to come soon. I would also like more action in Twin Peaks itself.
Fargo is rushing toward its finale this coming week as we got an outstanding showdown between Varga and Nikki. Both of these great characters believe that they have the key to blackmail the other, but only one can come out on top. Nikki really showed herself as a player in these scenes, reminding me how much I have enjoyed the progression of this character during this season of Fargo. I also loved the interactions between Emmit and Gloria. These two actors, Ewan McGregor and Carrie Coon, provided such a powerful interrogation scene that dove deep into the characters. I felt for Emmit as he recollected his relationship with his brother. “30 years I’ve been killing him. That was just when he fell,” said Emmit as a summary of his relationship with Ray. Very powerful, indeed.
The season finale of American Gods is on tonight, and I have been able to see the episode already on Amazon Prime and it is spectacular. The first season has been amazing and we finally get the reveal tonight of the true name of Mr. Wednesday. He is Odin. And we also meet the goddess of spring, which has become mashed up with Easter. There are also a lot of Jesus characters wondering around. The remarkably creative idea that said that when someone believed in Jesus, a different version showed up, was tremendous. It also gave us a chance to see on old favorite in his second role of the week. LOST’s Daniel Faraday was played by Jeremy Davies, and Davies appeared in this episode as Jesus Prime. Davies also appeared this week on Twin Peaks. American Gods has been weird and wonderful and full of amazing performances. Gillian Anderson was back this week, once again commanding the screen with her presence.
ABC has returned to the summer of games, as we got the premiere of Celebrity Family Feud and the $100,000 Pyramid. There were a few other game shows on the summer schedule, but these are the two that interested me. I enjoyed watching Leslie Jones and her over the top behavior on the Pyramid. You could tell she really wanted to help the contestants win. Then, it was also great to see the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin’s family on the Feud, despite them not winning the big money at the end. Teri was there and it brought me back to the old days with Steve. I miss him so much. There was a really nice story told by Bindi Irwin to host Steve Harvey about how much her father loved Harvey. It was very touching and you could see how much it meant to Steve.
However, what stuck out the most was a promo they ran during the Sunday night game shows. It revealed the return of the Battle of the Network Stars. I AM SO IN!!! I remember loving that old series back on ABC, where stars from the three networks would get together and compete in track and field like events. I always cheered for ABC. It looks as if this time, they won’t be going by network as much as by categories (e.g. TV Sitcoms, TV Kids, Primetime Soaps etc), which works for me. Series premieres on June 29th. I cannot wait.
That’s it for the week. Tonight is the WWE Money in the Bank PPV, which has the first ever female money in the bank ladder match. We also get the finale of Fargo this week and the continued hope that Agent Cooper will break free from this Dougie persona.