I realize I have been posting so irregularly that it may seem like I'm disappearing off the face of the earth sometimes, but I have a new job that takes a bit out of me, and I have other obligations, like all of us. Still, i should be a little more regiar about what I do. I saw The Social Network this weekend (brilliant movie by the way) You never know where a blog will take you. Reminded me how much I missed Aaron Sorkin's dialogue too. But I guess he's all about the films now. Well, he'll get an Oscar nomination this year for sure.
At the other end of the last decade, January 2001 to be precise, I was watching an episode of ER, a show I never thought was quite as good as everybody thought it was. I don't remember the title of the episode, onyl that Mark Greene, in the midst of his battle with cancer, was having brain surgery in New York to remove a tumor. The more interesting B-story was back in Chicago. A middle-aged man was driving his son to hockey practice (I think) and was in a car crash. The episode followed his process through the ER and through the medical process of Cook County. The character was played by Jim Belushi, and I remember being shocked by how good a straight performance it was. ER always managed to coax fine performances from its guest casts, but this was more than I'd come to expect from Belushi, who always seemed to be coasting through not quite good comedies and the occasional whimsical drama.
I remember that performance because Beliushi very soon after would starting 'According to Jim', a series known not just for extraordinary mediocrity, but for ABC's keeping it on the air season after season while other brilliant shows got cast by the wayside. The need for the show made sense when they depending on Drew Carey and Regis Philbin for their survival; after they had 'Lost' and 'Desperate Housewives', there really was no excuse. It still sticks in my craw that Invasion and Line of Fire got cast aside for that. His acting seemed to be an aberration.
But then in September, 'the Defenders' premiered on CBS. Now the courtroom drama has been on life support for awhile, but CBS does seem to be interested inr resusciating. It's nowhere near the level of 'The Good Wife' (which continues to get better with every succeeding episode) but it's definitely a lot better than some of the pale imitations we get these days. Belushi and Jerry O'Connell have a good rapport, the cases are interesting, and the writings good. But this show wouldn't work without Belushi's solid work. Pete Morelli has layers in the way that a lot of characters on TV don't (Not Patty Hewes' or Alan Shore's level, but few shows did) and even though there is a certain amount of sleaze, he demonstrates charm, something I really haven't associated with his work in film or TV. Add to this the fact that this was supposed to be a reality show, and I'm really starting to get in it's corners.
The Defenders has challenges ahead (it's up agains the latest incarnation of the Law and Order franchise) but the future is good. And maybe if Belushi continues to do solid work, he can atone for all those years we had to suffer his pale excuse for a sitcom.
The next Post will come sooner. I promise