I’m enjoying my first real summer off since I was a kid. No work. No school. The dog days of summer aren’t over yet. When it’s frizzling hot outside, I try to keep cool indoors. Where I can read and watch TV.
Summertime TV has come a long way since my childhood when all we had were reruns of network shows. Now the cable channels offer original programming, even in the summer. First I found AMC’s Mad Men.
The Company, a 3-part CIA drama on Sunday nights. Young idealists, old masters of covert operations, moles, double agents, beautiful women, Yalies, the KGB – all the usual suspects in any Cold War spy story are here. The first episode kept my attention for the whole two hours as the action shuttled primarily between Washington D.C. and East Berlin in the post-WWII era. I’ll tune in this Sunday for the next one.
My favorite new show, Saving Grace. This series, starring Holly Hunter, has something to offend everyone. Grace Hanadarko is a hard-charging Oklahoma City police detective who drinks, cusses, drives a Porsche way too fast, shoots pool, has an active sex life (some critics have said “promiscuous” but I disagree), and has turned against God and religion as she often tells her brother, who’s a Catholic priest. She’s a loving aunt to her motherless nephew (her sister was killed in the OKC bombing), a bulldog when pursuing a case, kind to the old guy next door, and fast with a fist when a rich cattleman hits on her.
And there’s Earl. He’s her last chance angel, a big rumpled tobacco-chewing guy in a plaid shirt and jeans. He also has a righteous set of wings he deploys when all else fails. Earl first appeared in answer to Grace’s prayer – “Oh God, help me” – which jumped out of her mouth after, driving drunk and too fast, she hit and killed a pedestrian. Earl – wings, tobacco spit bottle and all – popped onto the scene and after she finished arguing with him, Grace realized that the body, the blood and all evidence of the accident were gone.
Earl doesn’t help her solve crimes but he doesn’t leave Grace alone either.
This series may vanish without a trace after a few episodes because it could offend just about everybody, according to stereotypical thinking: traditional religious folks by the cussing and drinking and sex and amount of skin shown, and more liberal minded types by the God and angel stuff.
I’m fine with all of it. I hope a lot of people are. This series dares to portray three-dimensional characters who are living complicated and meaningful lives – out there on the plains of mid-America, nowhere near the Right or Left Coasts, or Chicago, New Orleans or Houston. Come to think of it, that may be harder for a lot of audiences to believe than a tobacco-chewing angel named Earl.