TV Series: Blue Bloods

I am a lifelong sucker for New York City-based police shows beginning in my youth during the late 1950s with Naked City through Kojak, all of the Law and Order iterations, Cagney & Lacey, NYPD Blue and others. This new CBS series with Tom Selleck as the patriarch of a family of cops plus a prosecutor has started out promisingly and already shown some heft and depth that augur well for the future. It’s a good, solid procedural drama with a strong familial thread that could in time make its own nice mark.

Movie: October Sky

Too often what are typed as “family films” lack the real drama and gravitas of great movies. But this 1999 winner starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Homer Hickham, a small town West Virginia boy who grew up to work for NASA, is a gem. Inspired by the USSR’s Sputnik launch, Hickham starts making and trying to send his own model rockets into the sky and possibly escape the local fate of working in a coal mine. It has the right proportions of drama, warmth and truly happy ending without ever pandering or descending into pathos or shallowness, and strong and very realistic performances by Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper and Laura Dern. It’s a film parents can watch with their kids without embarrassment and a pleasure for adults.

TV Documentary: When It Was a Game

This three-part history of America’s great national pastime by HBO is right up there with Ken Burns’ Baseball, and perhaps even more clearly demonstrates how the sport was an integral element of American 20th Century culture. That’s especially evident in its third segment which shows how baseball was primary to our national life in the 1950s and ’60s and then lost its ties with the public with the advent of free agency and its expansion, becoming ever more a business rather than, as the title announces, a genuine game that epitomized our national culture.

From The Progressive Populist, March 1, 2014


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