Monthly Archives: January 2012

Downton Abbey: Season 2, Episode 1

SONIA BRAND-FISHER: The second season of the much anticipated “Downton Abbey” began with a literal bang, of guns and the grit-shrouded trenches that signify the horrors of World War I. A far cry from the continuously glistening elegance of the previous season, this episode made promises for a season that deals with more than the contained and aesthetically delicious drama of a single household. We are notified by the slightly dropped necklines and the re-costuming of a few footmen to wearing uniforms that this is a very different time than the previous season. Even with the announcement at the end of Season 1 of being at war with Germany, it was still at a lavish white garden party with little to indicate turmoil other than a few choice facial expressions. In the two hour premiere of the second season, we have seen war, death, politics, rejection, and regret under a huge umbrella of uncertainty.
HOWARD MEGDAL: What precisely is it that made the return of Downton Abbey such an emotionally rewarding event for me on Sunday night?

ZOË RICE: One would imagine two years of war changes everything. And yet, upon re-reading last year’s Perpetual Post review of the season 1 premiere of Downton Abbey, I realized part of the success of this season’s opener rests on the fact that the series has remained entirely true to its early roots. As Howard noted last year, at its heart, Downton Abbey is a lofty soap opera. One with excellent characterization, heart-stopping poignancy, and moments of pitch-perfect dialogue, but a drama all the same – and thankfully for us, not a Greek drama, “when everything happens off -stage.” The Great War has amplified last year’s themes of modernization, progress, and change for every character, both upstairs and down. Downton Abbey has always been as much about the conflict of change as it has any gripping plot point, and I’m more ready than ever to see how each character copes with the tangled effects of progress and loss. (I fear much trouble for Mr. Carson.) Continue reading

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Michele Bachmann’s Downfall: Sexism?

DANI ALEXIS RYSKAMP: Michele Bachmann predicted “a miracle” in Iowa only to come in functionally last (ahead only of Jon Huntsman, who didn’t campaign in Iowa; Herman Cain, who is no longer running at all; Buddy Roemer; and “No Preference”). Not surprisingly, Bachmann offered her concession speech not long after. And I’m inclined to believe – perhaps too generously – that it wasn’t sexism that cost Michele Bachmann in Iowa.

CHRIS PUMMER: Save the sexism talk. Bachmann’s ship sank because if would have been lunacy to consider her as President of the United States, and the media should be shamed for ever trying to tell us we should have taken that prospect seriously. Continue reading

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Modern Family

KIP MOONEY: I’m really going to try to look at this show with fresh eyes in the back half of this season. But I didn’t have to try that hard, because after ending the first half of the season on…

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Best Holiday Movie

MATTHEW DAVID BROZIK: There are so many wonderful holiday movies—and by “holiday,” I mean “Christmastime”; and by “wonderful,” I mean “boring.” The single best holiday movie, hands down, is the one that has not snow falling from the sky on…

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Review: The Artist

SONIA BRAND-FISHER: Watching Michel Hazanavicius’s 2011 silent film, “The Artist,” made me feel as if I were in a cathedral of cinema history. A cathedral is a place, mostly silent except for a few camera clicks and prayers, that is simultaneously meant to teach and inspire those who seek spiritual refuge from the rapidly changing world. Film is a medium that has undergone revelations and revolutions, represented in the stories told by movie stars, whose faces we recognize as quickly, if not quicker than, any apostle. “The Artist” allowed for me to sit in the theatre and gaze up at these figures who were re-enacting the turbulence that was the transition to the talking pictures. Icons in their own right, both the film’s protagonists, George Valentin and Peppy Miller, framed in the stained glass light of a silver screen, act as intercessors between the audience and cinema’s history in a film that could only have been made in 2011. Continue reading

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Melvin Mora Remembered

MIKE SILVA: How often do late season call-ups make a huge impact on a team in the postseason? Some names that come up off the top of my head are Shane Spencer with the Yankees in 1998, K-Rod in Anaheim in 2002, and Francisco Cabrera with the Braves in 1992. The Mets had two such players under Bobby Valentine: Melvin Mora and Timo Perez.

CHRIS PUMMER: Melvin Mora’s career batting line after his 30th birthday: .281/.354/.441 in more than 5,000 plate appearances. That’s a pretty good career, even before you consider that he was used as a utility player until he was 33. If he’d posted the same numbers before 30 with the same number of plate appearances, he’d have finished with 3,006 hits. Continue reading

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