Boston Dailies (wait for it) Diverge on Gates-gate

April 24, 2015

From our Late to the Ancestral Party desk

The current Henry Louis Gates Jr./Ben Affleck/PBS/Sony Entertainment/WikiLeaks rumpus over the excising of Affleck’s slave-owning ancestry from Gates’s documentary series Finding Your Roots got very different play in Thursday’s local dailies.

Let’s let the Boston Globe’s Ty Burr set the scene.

Lessons in inconvenient truths

Affleck revelation shows that nothing stay hidden nowadays

This week’s celebrity tempest in a teapot is brought to you by Ben Affleck, Henry Louis Gates Jr., PBS, and Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton. Oh, and WikiLeaks, which, if it had hands, would be rubbing them together 8917b9a34d2c47788d1664887d6c02e1-8917b9a34d2c47788d1664887d6c02e1-0in adolescent glee.

The website, whose editor in chief, Julian Assange, is still living in political asylum at the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, recently released tens of thousands of documents left over from the Sony hack late last year — the ones that the original hackers (North Koreans or whoever; the jury’s still out) hadn’t bothered to make public. Among those memos is a back-and-forth between Harvard professor Gates and Lynton about whether to expose the fact that Affleck had ancestors who owned slaves on Gates’s PBS documentary series, “Finding Your Roots.”

 

Affleck asked Gates to omit that part of his ancestry. Gates turned for guidance to Lynton, who said “all things being equal, I would take it out.” But Gates clearly knew it would be wrong to do so, telling Lynton that if the issue ever became public, “It would embarrass [the star] and compromise our integrity. . . . Once we open the door to censorship, we lose control of the brand.”

Well, consider it lost, Henry, since you did omit the Affleck family’s slave-owning past and, according to the lamest press statement since Mark Sanford hiked the Appalachian Trail, “focused on what we felt were the most interesting aspects of his ancestry.”

Uh-huh.

Burr’s conclusion: “The stain isn’t that Affleck had ancestors who owned slaves. It’s that he thought we’d think less of him — or his celebrity brand — if we knew. And now, poor schmo, we do.”

A Globe editorial also spanked Affleck: “This Cambridge homeboy needs a reality check. You can edit truth out of movies, but not out of family history.”

Actually, it’s the Boston Globe that needs a reality check.

The issue here isn’t Ben Affleck, who did what most people might instinctively do. The issue is Skip (Journalism 101) Gates.

And the Boston Herald’s Mark Perigard nailed him on it in Thursday’s edition.

‘Roots’ censorship shows host Gates has got to go

Faces of America

Stop stalling, PBS.

You know what needs to be done.

Either cancel “Finding Your Roots” or fire host, executive producer and Harvard professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr.

 

As Perigard notes, Gates could have used this whole kerfuffle as a “teachable moment.”

He could have reminded [Affleck] he is not responsible for the sins of his ancestors.

He could have appealed to his ego and told him his reputation would only be enhanced by 
acknowledging this shameful bit of family history.

He could have informed him that previous guests — including Anderson Cooper, Derek Jeter and Ken Burns — have discovered slave owners lurking in their family trees.

Most critically, Gates should have recognized his own obligation to the truth.

 

But he didn’t.

The great Henry Louis Gates Jr. tried to cover his ass.

And, as Mark Perigard says, his ass should now be fired.

(More, no doubt, to come as we head downstairs for today’s papers.0

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Local Dailies Trash The Vineyard

July 23, 2013

Well, actually, The Vineyard.

That’s the new unreality show that debuts tonight on ABC Family.

 

Here’s what the cable channel says about it:

ABC Family’s newest original docu-series, The Vineyard , is set against the idyllic backdrop of Martha’s Vineyard, MA, and features the island’s iconic Black Dog Tavern. The series follows a mix of locals and transplants living and playing together for the summer. Rounding out the cast of seven girls and four guys is a Latin pop princess, a hopeless romantic and a pre-med student, just to name a few. It’s sure to be an intriguing combination of new friends, new rivals and tight quarters, all resulting in a summer of trouble and romance.

 

Except . . here’s what the TV critics at the local dailies say about it.

Mark Perigard in the Boston Herald:

JACKIE LYONS, KATIE TARDIF, GABBY LAPOINTE‘Vineyard’ dim bulbs are biggest losers

ABC’s new “unscripted” series “The Vineyard” — set in Martha’s Vineyard — has a lot in common with the CBS hit summer drama “Under the Dome.”

Both shows feature people in a tight geographical area. One features people behaving unspeakably stupidly and vile, the other is based on a Stephen King novel.

 

Shouldn’t that be “vilely”? Funny you ask – the Boston Globe’s Matthew Gilbert says, not really.

On some reality shows, the characters seem partly real and partly the creations of the director; on “The Vineyard,” the characters seem almost entirely designed by the director, as if the cast members have been given extremely precise instructions. Katie and the oh-so-chivalrous and ab-tastic Lou are going to be the romantically tortured “A” story.23vineyard2

OK, I have to be transparent. I just went to Thesaurus.com and searched for “repulsive,” and right now I’m feeling overwhelmed by the number of appropriate choices I have to round out my final thoughts on “The Vineyard.” “Odious” is good, but maybe a little too sniffy; there’s no point in being sniffy about a show so obviously rigged to be vapid. “Vile,” too, is an overreaction. I mean, these people are so flat and unreal, it’s pointless to waste sharp words on them. Ah well, even “repulsive” won’t do. I’ll stick with “hollow” and “generic” and get out.

 

Of course you’re wondering: Will the hardreading staff be watching tonight’s premiere?

Get out.


The ‘Ray Donovan’ Rumpus? It Ends Tonight!

July 2, 2013

As the hardworking staff at Campaign Outsider noted earlier, the Times-Industrial Complex rendered a split decision on Showtime’s new series Ray Donovan. New York Times critic Alessandra Stanley found it “grandiose, predictable and painfully slow,” while kissin’ cousin Boston Globe critic Matthew Gilbert considered it “fantastic.”

So the hardworking staff went to a tiebreaker: Wall Street Journal critic Dorothy Rabinowitz, who called it a “hard-bitten and buoyant tale.”

But then came Boston Herald critic Mark Perigard, who hated it.

 

Picture 1

 

So we needed another tiebreaker.

Which was me and the Missus.

Our verdict:

Meh.

The Missus wants to stipulate that we love Liev Schreiber, but the rest of the cast does a lot of scenery-chewing, and Jon Voight has had so much cosmetic surgery, it now qualifies as a head transplant.

Regardless, we’ll give it one more chance.


BBC’s ‘The Hour’ Is/Is Not Worth the Time

November 28, 2012

Split decision in the local dailies today over the BBC series The Hour, which returns for its second season on BBC America tonight.

First up, the Boston Globe’s Matthew Gilbert, whose opinions the hardwatching staff generally agrees with (except when he called John Simm’s portrayal of Sam Tyler in the original Life on Mars “weaselly”).

His review in today’s edition:

‘The Hour’: Worth the time

I hear from a lot of TV viewers who really want to like “The Newsroom,” Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama about the media, integrity, and the Gordian knot of love. But while they’re drawn to a drama about TV journalism, they complain that the “Newsroom” characters are preternaturally intelligent, overly self-important, and emotionally adolescent. The usual Sorkin rumpus. I enjoy the show, for Sorkin’s passionate treatment of timely issues, and for Jeff Daniels’s flamboyant performance, but I can’t argue with those who reject the kit because of the kaboodle.

Cut to: BBC America’s “The Hour,” the British series that returns for a second season of six episodes on Wednesday night at 9. This is also a drama about the news business, the challenges of integrity, and love’s near misses and thunderclaps, but it’s not marred by any of Sorkin’s excesses. Set at a weekly BBC newsmagazine in the 1950s called “The Hour,” it’s a subtle intertwining of journalists’ professional struggles, their personal lives, and the thorny social issues that envelope them, and I can’t recommend it enough. “The Hour” is not “Breaking Bad” good, or “Mad Men” good, but it’s close.

 

Quickly we go crosstown to Herald TV critic Mark Perigard’s review:

BBC America’s period drama drags

Zero ‘Hour’

The Brits are learning the wrong things from American TV.

Take BBC America’s “The Hour,” which returns tonight for a second season. The 1950s-set drama about the making of a “60 Minutes”-style news show sucks up all the excesses of AMC’s “Mad Men” and none of its storytelling virtues.

 

Tiebreaker, please.


Split Decision on ‘Last Resort’

September 27, 2012

The fall television season is upon us, which means the return of familiar shows and the debut of new ones. It also means TV reviews, to see which one are worth watching.

Or not, if you read both local dailies.

Case in point: the ABC’s new drama series Last Resort.

The Boston Globe’s Matthew Gilbert likes it, he really likes it:

‘Last Resort’: Paranoia below the sea

There’s no question in my mind that most TV sci-fi dramas have some precedent in “The Twilight Zone.” Rod Serling’s stark, brilliant anthology series, which ran from 1959-63, messed with all kinds of cosmic possibilities – about existence, about childhood, about time and space, about good and evil, about politics, technology, and the future. There were humans, aliens, robots, mutants, dreams, and apocalypses, the last of which are particularly popular these days in primetime. From “Lost,” “FlashForward,” and “Fringe” to “Revolution” and ABC’s fascinating new “Last Resort,” TV is still toying with the what-ifs and watch-outs explored in TV’s great uber-ancestor.

But the Herald’s Mark Perigard? Not so much.

‘Last Resort’ aptly named

Nuke-happy network drama’s a bust

An anti-Muslim video created by an idiot and posted to YouTube has provoked violence worldwide.

Tonight, a commercial network releases an expensive-looking drama that casually drops two nuclear bombs on Pakistan and obliterates millions — off-screen, thankfully.

It gets better.

Our “hero,” late in the hour, detonates a nuclear bomb on American soil — just to prove a point.

To be fair, “Last Resort” does not insult ideology — it merely knocks your intelligence.

Anybody got a coin we can flip?