Tag Archives: Television

There are no new ideas anymore…

So the premise behind the well-reviewed Fox series The Following, about an English serial killer with an artistic bent who inspires a cult of copycat followers, bears a remarkable resemblance to a 2007 Law & Order: SVU episode, “Svengali,” which was about an English serial killer with an artistic bent who inspires a cult of copycat followers.

Coincidence, I’m sure.


Larry King saved my life one night

So Larry King will be quitting his landmark cable chatfest in the fall. I can’t say that I ever watched a complete episode of Larry King Live during its 25-year run on CNN, and his column for USA TODAY, published weekly from 1982 to 2001, was a popular target for parodies — and homages, too. (Its three-dot spirit lives on, appropriately enough, via Twitter.)

But whatever King became in his later years on television, he was truly great in his original medium — radio. In fact, he may have saved my life once. Let me explain.

Back in the summer of 1986, I had a job as a bank courier. During one late-night run, I was fighting off sleep behind the wheel of the van when the A.M. dial  stumbled upon King’s radio show. He was interviewing Albert Brooks, and it was fantastic — smart, well-paced and hilarious. Like Johnny Carson and other great interviewers, King was unobtrusive, and he had a knack for asking questions that landed right in his subject’s wheelhouse.

Of course, a sharp wit like Brooks would be a great guest for any host, but King’s interview was special. This flawless bit of radio kept me awake until I spotted a truck stop and pulled in for a much-needed cup of coffee.

So thanks, Larry King, for keeping the company vehicle out of a ditch somewhere between Charlotte and Raleigh that summer night 24 years ago.

‘Breaking Bad’: Freaking great

In the moral universe of AMC’s Breaking Bad, terrible choices cascade into worse consequences, and Sunday’s cliffhanger conclusion of Season 3  dialed that theme up a notch. Maybe three.

To summarize: Walt orders Jesse to murder Gale, saving Walt’s hide but also possibly (certainly?) ensuring Jesse’s death at the hands of Gus Fring’s drug gang. So both of Walt’s rivals for Meth Cooker-in-Chief could be out of the picture by early next season. Walt’s ruthlessness will have paid off again — but at what cost to those around him? Based on the past, it’s probably too appalling to contemplate.

Walter’s character arc — from naive chemistry teacher, to desperate cancer patient, to unpolished drug dealer,  to cold-blooded murderer and manipulator — has been fascinating to follow for the past three years. But this season, it’s been equally fascinating to discover more about the elegant, hypercautious drug lord Gus (a great Giancarlo Esposito), the gruff, inhumanly efficient fix-it man Mike (Jonathan Banks) and the comical yet nimble lawyer Saul (Bob Odenkirk).

While Sunday’s show was a satisfying wrap-up to the season, it wasn’t nearly as suspenseful as an earlier episode, “One Minute,” in which Walter’s DEA agent brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris) took down the terrifying Cousins in a parking-lot shootout that ranks as one of the most gripping sequences in recent TV history. (And once again, we see the consequences of Walt’s actions exacting a devastating toll on those close to him.)

You know in your gut that this story is not going to end well for all involved, but you can’t wait to see what grim surprises await.

That’s great television.