Don't take my word for it. My friend, UCLAW colleague, fellow UK Top Gear fan, and co-author Bill Klein, who is older and much wiser than I, tells me that:
It has always been annoying to see how they messed up the wonderful British show with their feeble, forced humor, misguided metaphor, and stilted lead characters, but I stuck with it to see some interesting cars while skipping most of the rest. This week, however, was the last straw. Despite having a live audience they used what was obviously a laugh track--than which there is nothing that I find more abhorrent. I've had all I can take . . .
Me too. It's sad that the US can't seem to make a decent car show. Of course, it's even sadder that we can't seem to make a decent car. (Now that'll bring out the comment trolls.)
Update: I stand corrected. A friend points out that there are lots of decent cars made in the USA:
The Accord made in Ohio
The Camry made in Kentucky and Indiana
The Odyssey built in Alabama
The Tundra made in San Antonio
The X series of BMWs built in South Carolina (except for the X6, which is not only goofy looking but also a crappy performer according to Top Gear)
I was taking a break from working on the section of my book that explains why the monitoring model of the board of directors' role and composition creates problems by promoting an adversarial role that impedes group decision making when I ran across this gem from 3rd Rock, which might be my all time favorite TV moment:
It looks like the upcoming series of Top Gear (the real one from the UK, not the bastardized US pale imitation) will include an episode in which our intrepid heroes return to the US for another road trip. In a previous episode, they toured out West with some serious US muscle cars.
This time it looks like they're packing some even more serious Euro supercars.
I thought they did the best job of covering Election night 2010. Reasonably objective and nonpartisan. Far and away the coolest graphics. (Looked like everybody was using iPods and most of the graphics had Apple-like touch features.) But way too many talking heads. You don't need two tables worth of panelists.
Election Night 2010: The most blatantly partisan of the cable news networks. Repeatedly and openly mocked Republicans and conservatives. Keith Olberman is a smarmy, pretentious turd whose coverage managed to make Fox's look fair and balanced.
I'm trying to think of the right word for what just happened. I saw a headline on Drudge "Riot police, protesters clash at Acropolis..." and what immediately came to mind was a hysterical QI clip about the Acropolis. I don't think non-sequitur is the word I'm groping for, but it's the closest I've come up with so far. Any other suggestions?
In any case, here's the clip, which I think stands as a classic example of why BBC America ought to bring us QI:
Mention Top Gear and, sure as night follows day, the do-gooders will start harrumphing. But there's no point moaning about Jeremy Clarkson for being anti-environmental, irresponsible, or politically incorrect.
It's like taking Katie Price seriously on the subject of marriage. We Top Gear addicts don't tune in for an intelligent comparison of torque or petrol consumption.
Precisely the right analogy, eh?
And then there's this:
I would rather my children watch that than another episode of vacuous Z-listers being trailed by cameras as they shop for jeans, undergo cosmetic procedures, or are trapped together in fake, bitchy confinement.
Exactly. I'd rather watch a Top Gear repeat for the fifth time than any of the reality crap that passes as television in the US these days.
And then finally there's this:
And then, of course, there is Clarkson himself, with his booming voice and faintly bullying manner: the Marmite of television presenters. ... Clarkson articulates what a huge tranche of the population knows they shouldn't be saying or thinking, but still somehow do. His persona is arrogant, unapologetic, infantile (watch his childishly ungenerous demeanour when he doesn't win a challenge).
I've started watching The Good Wife on a regular basis. I like the cast, the writing, the semi-realistic portrayal of law practice (the scene where Cary goes out for drinks with a bunch of fellow laid off lawyers struck me as very plausible), and the complexity of the relationships between the characters.
As fellow fans know, one of the recurring questions this season has been whether investigator Kalinda Sharma (played by the brilliant Archie Panjabi of Bend It Like Beckham fame) is bisexual or lesbian. As the LA Times Show Tracker reports, the season finale left us as confused as ever:
To anyone who's been watching "The Good Wife," the lack of resolution in last night's finale won't come as much of a surprise. If anything, the loose ends and ambiguity are all part of the pleasure of watching this show, and this episode is no exception.
Let's start with Kalinda, shall we? The mystery of her sexuality has only grown deeper throughout the season, and at this point, quite frankly, I am still baffled. Here's what we know: Kalinda was in a storage unit with Lana, the world's most attractive and sexually aggressive FBI agent. There were all sorts of breathy whispers and loaded statements. Then, all of a sudden, the camera moves outside and we see their feet from outside the storage unit, whose door has been pulled halfway down. It appears their feet like each other a whole lot. In fact, there's no way to look at the position of their feet and come to any conclusion other than they are totally making out. Add to that the fact that a few moments later, Will calls Kalinda and asks her, "Are you alright? You sound like you've been running." So why did the show get so coy at the moment of truth? I doubt they were squeamish about showing a lesbian love scene -- this is, after all, a show where last week we saw a half-naked dead woman covered in blood.
No, this was a strategic decision to keep us all confused but curious -- which, coincidentally, might be the best way to describe Kalinda's sexuality. Though at this point, I am genuinely mystified about what's going on there. Was she just using Tony, or is Lana the chump? Kalinda looks more serious and talks even more quietly when she's with Tony -- in fact, I can barely make out what the heck she is saying when she's with him, which doesn't help matters much. Is she so guarded because she likes him or because she's trying to protect herself from trouble? And while we're on the subject, what did she give to Tony at the end of the episode? Was she trying to get the truth out about Arkin's wife? Please share your theories. At this point, I'm beginning to think Kalinda only has sex when she can get some sort of info -- a manila envelope full of photos here, a toxicology report there -- and not for pleasure. What do you think?
FWIW, here's what I think. Last week, in the season's penultimate episode of the season, Alicia (played by Julianna Margulies) asked Kalinda point blank: "Are you gay?"
Notice that Alicia said "gay" not "lesbian." Granted, gay is sometimes used inclusively to refer to lesbians and bisexuals as well as male homosexuals. In ordinary discourse, however, if one friend were so bold as to inquire into another friend's sexuality, wouldn't she used the preferred term "lesbian" rather than gay? I therefore wonder whether the show writers' had a hidden agenda in using gay rather than lesbian.
The less interesting possibility is that Alicia was using gay as a generic so as to be open to the possibility that Kalinda is bisexual. After all, you woudln't ask a friend "Are you lesbian or bisexual," would you?
A more interesting possibility, however, is that Alicia used "gay" because she suspects Kalinda is a (bisexual?) MTF transsexual. The generic term would be the best shorthand to encompass that possibility.
The possibility that Kalinda is a transsexual would be consistent with her oft-referenced "mysterious past." Formerly being a guy would be a pretty big mystery It also would explain why she remains closeted in an environment that likely would be fairly gay-friendly. It also would make sense of the ambiguity about her sexuality by making her sexuality even more complex. It might even explain her wardrobe choices (did you notice that she always wears jackets with pockets so that she never has to carry a purse, for example?).
Anyway, it's a great show and a great character. I'm looking forward to next season.
In my effort to educate a dear friend, colleague, and co-author on the greatness of Top Gear--possibly the finest contribution to human culture in the last 100 years--I present the followup to the amphibious car challenge: The Channel Challenge.
Speaking of Top Gear, here's a couple of favorite goodies: