Spent the last couple of days up in Oxford at my folks' house while they're away in California. So while my sister attended classes in the big city during the day, I ate groceries, drank Diet Coke, and watched my folks' hairy-ass Keeshonds. When these bitches have to go out, they jab my arm with their snouts and growl insistently. They do this every 2 and a half hours. I also reaquainted myself -- as I am wont to do when I visit the country house -- with cable television. During the day there's as much nothing being broadcast on 200 channels as there is on the 15 or so I have with the bunny ears I have at home, but prime time on cable is a different story. There's a lot on these days.
For instance, I watched the tail end of one of the so-called "lost episodes" of Chappelle's Show, and it was hilarious. It was the racial pixie episode. ("Say herro, Roro.") Damn funny. There was a thing where they showed a clip of MTV's Cribs and a rap duo called the Ying Yang Twins were showing their house to the cameras. They were acting very crazy and Dave Chappelle pops up at the bottom of the screen in blackface, complete with top hat and white gloves, and says, "I never thought I'd say this, but I'm embarrassed." Rough stuff, but also hilarious. I can't help but feel a little cheated that Chappelle left the show. I understand his confusion about whether his comedy was "sending up racial sterotypes or reinforcing them", as he said in the GQ interview, but damn, adjust your comedy to suit your new sensibilities, or start a new show or something --but just to leave us without any new Dave Chappelle content. A stand-up tour where tickets are going for $75 or more a pop isn't good enough. What about a Half Baked 2, huh? C'mon, Dave. We'll go see your block party movies if you take out all that boring Erica Badu music and do two hours of comedy. If $50 million dollars won't do it, what the hell will?
Anyway, I also saw the third and fourth installments of the new TNT miniseries, "Stephen King's Nightmares and Dreamscapes" while I was at my folks' house. This stuff is, surprisingly, really good. In all the years people have produced Stephen King material for broadcast on the small screen, this is by far the best stuff they've produced. The actors are first-rate (William Hurt, William H. Macy, and to a lesser extent, Tom Berenger and Claire Forlani), and the production value is very high. Each one-hour installment makes the 3-hour abomination that was Desperation look like an undergrad's film project. The first one's entitled "Battleground" and it stars William Hurt. At the beginning of the episode, Hurt's character kills the owner of a toy company. A day or so later, back at Hurt's tres chic, fortress-like San Francisco apartment, a mysterious package is left at Hurt's door. He opens it and finds a bunch of green army men. And then... that's right, you guessed it, they come to life and go on the attack. This is King's homage to Richard Matheson's famous short story, "Prey", where the doll comes to life to kill a hapless young woman, (incidentally, the teleplay was written by Matheson's son), and it works very well.
Though "Battleground" is, at heart, a silly story, it's got some really surprising whimsical flourishes that make it a lot of fun and much better than the typical Mick Garris-directed ABC miniseries crapfest. And, also, there isn't a single line of dialogue. The two I watched today, "Umney's Last Case" and "The End of All of That", were both in the same goofy but riveting vein. Here's why I think Nightmares and Dreamscapes is so good when most of his stuff that's been on recently has been so bad:
Stephen King has no creative involvement in it. He's not writing the teleplays, he's not behind the camera, he's not making cameos -- none of it. He's letting people who know how to make movies do their thing, and the results seem to indicate that he should never adapt anything else of his ever again. He should just write the raw material and let others do as they will. Let everyone play to their strengths.
Anyway, Nightmares and Dreamscapes is some good television. Ya'll would do well to check out an episode. "The Road Virus Heads North" is going to be a good one. I think that's airing this coming Wednesday.
Before I go, a semi-interesting note: I watched both the last 20 minutes of The Chronicles of Riddick and the first 10 today, and I was once again persuaded that the film is a minor pulp science-fiction masterpiece.
Tomorrow, I'll tell you what I thought of The Matador, and Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic. Here's a hint: I liked them both. Allright, I'm putting myself to sleep. I'm done.