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What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been

27 June, 2017 (21:38) | Uncategorized | By: Ian Burdon

I’ve been catching up on TV since we got back from holiday.  Of course, that doesn’t amount to a lot for me since I don’t watch that much TV, and I’m still not reconciled to the cancellation of Sense8, but still…

Dr Who: Moffat and Capaldi’s final series has knocked it out of the park so far. It reminds me a lot of what early ’70s Who could have been with better production techniques. One episode to go.

American Gods: I haven’t shared the general hyperbolic enthusiasm for this, although I do like it. I find it has tried so very, very hard to be stylish and to be Event Television; however the exaggerated style has, I feel, overwhelmed what substance there is. It’s like, as Carly Simon wrote, it has one eye in the mirror as it watches itself gavotte. But, and this is a very substantial but, it got a whole lot better when Emily Browning, as Laura Moon, got her own episode (Ep. 4, Git Gone) and then again, playing another character, Essie McGowan, in episode 7 A Prayer For Mad Sweeney. Browning steals every scene she appears in. Reflecting on the first 8 episodes I realised I had no interest in Shadow Moon or Mr. Wednesday or the rest of the pantheon, but I am fully engaged with Laura Moon and the Leprechaun who are the most, and best, realised characters in the show. I’ll keep watching when it comes back because of them.

Twin Peaks: Until this week I would have given a mixed review of Twin Peaks. I’ve enjoyed it, but also found it hard to tell whether or not it was just an elaborate piss-take on the part of Mark Frost and David Lynch, insofar as it has been so self-parodic. However then came episode 8, one of the most remarkable hours of television I have ever seen. It never felt any need to condescend to the viewer with anything so cheap as an explanation for what was happening. The episode is modernist, absurd, surreal, creepy as hell, horrific and utterly compelling. It absolutely sets the bar for TV from now on, in just a single episode, in the way American Gods’ “look at me” stylishness does not. It is a strange trip.

But not as much of a Long Strange Trip as Amazon’s 4 hour documentary about the Grateful Dead. There are many things to say about this, and one is that, like the excellent Anthem To Beauty, it is not necessary to like the Dead’s music to enjoy the documentary, even at 4 hours. The running thread through the documentary is Jerry Garcia, and I understand why he was the focus. I tend to think that that there are other, just as interesting, documentaries to be made about the Dead focusing on the other musicians, and also the general impact of their music in America in particular (I’ve lost count of the number of bluegrass versions I’ve heard of Friend of the Devil).  Notwithstanding that, I enjoyed every minute of it.

Finally, I was going to close this post with a link to the Dead on YouTube, but I’ve just found out that Rosalie Sorrels died while we were away on holiday. This is the first thing I heard her sing.