Thursday, August 18, 2005

The six degrees of HBO

Well, after just a few weeks, I am a complete convert to Such a wonderful system--$25 a month, 4 DVDs at a time, and as many DVDs a month as you can watch and mail back. Which wouldn't be quite such a deal if there weren't so many amazing TV series I've never seen out on DVD ... I spent last week working my way through season 4 of Oz, and just now watched the first two episodes of Firefly, Joss Whedon's post-Buffy/Angel attempt at an SF series that was not, unfortunately, given much of a chance. But more on Firefly and all things Joss in a future post.

I currently have Band of Brothers, Queer as Folk, Carnivale, and Deadwood on order ... if nothing else, the DVD allows for the perusal of all these innovative TV series that I would not otherwise be able to see until (a) they reached network television three years down the road in heavily edited form, (b) I spent obscene amounts of money to buy them, (c) ever.

And I never thought I would say this, but a cable network is -- in some small way -- a force for good. I'm of course speaking of HBO, whose programming is the antithesis of the all-reality-all-the-time crapfest that seems to now dominate television (so much more severe in the summer months -- Supernanny? I mean, come on). Watching Oz, I am in awe -- I would walk out of a film after such writing/acting/directing and be dazzled (a rare occurence in the SilverCity universe at the best of times), but to sit and think to myself, this is television ... it makes you re-examine your media biases. To the point where I included a unit on "smart" television when I taught pop culture ... and, much to the dismay of my TAs this past year, I included a question on one of the midterms that asked, "Can television be art?"

Now that I have the maritimes and Quebec between us, I can say to poor John, Selma and Prabhjot ... yes, I did that deliberately to make your lives miserable for a short time. But I suspect you knew that. [insert diabolical laugh here]

One thing I do love about the HBO universe is its overlap with the Law & Order universe ... not, unfortunately, that they share characters (oh, how I would dearly love to see an episode in which Jack McCoy showed up to shake down Schillinger in an attempt to get evidence for an ongoing prosecution) but that they share so many actors. And what's even better is that whoever happens to be on Oz tends to show up on a Law & Order show as their diametric opposite -- like Christopher Meloni, who plays Chris Keller on Oz, a borderline psycho gay-killer, is Det. Eliot Stabler on Law & Order: SVU.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you, for your geeky pleasure, the six degrees of HBO (caveat: not exhaustive! I welcome additions):

Christopher Meloni
Oz: Chris Keller, inmate
SVU: Det. Eliot Stabler

Edie Falco
Oz: Diane Whitlesey, corrections officer
The Sopranos: Carmella Soprano
Law & Order: recurring defending lawyer role

B.D. Wong
OZ: Father Ray Mukada, prison chaplain
SVU: Dr. George Huang, psychiatrist

Dean Winters
Oz: Ryan O'Reilly, inmate (the Iago character!)
SVU: Det. Brian Cassidy
Sex and the City: some guy Carrie slept with

J.K. Simmons
Oz: Vernon Schillinger, inmate, leader of the Aryan Brotherhood
Law & Order: Dr. Emil Skoda, psychiatrist

Kathryn Erbe
Oz: Shirley Bellinger, convicted and executed for killing her children
CI: Detective Alexandra Eames

Kirk Acevedo
Oz: Miguel Alvarez, latino inmate
Trial by Jury: Det. Hector Salazar
Band of Brothers: Sgt. Joseph Toye
(also, I think he's the hispanic, short version of Holm)

Ok, I'll stop there ... but there are many, many more ... and I haven't even watched Carnivale or Deadwood yet ...

Two characters from Oz I do want to mention, however -- first, good old Ernie Hudson, who plays the hard-ass yet compassionate warden -- but who I'll always remember as the fourth ghostbuster. And Harold J. Perrineau, who I think is one of the finest contemporay American actors we have -- who played the wheelchair-bound Augustus Hill, but who I first noticed in his brilliant turn as Mercutio in Baz's Romeo+Juliet. I was ever so happy to see him on Lost this past year ...

OK. Geeking out done with. Return to your families and friends.


andrew dewaard said...

im a satisfied zip customer as well, they have such a great selection eh. every film student should have a membership, its so much more affordable than a regular store anyway. wanna know the secret? a dvd burner (which are only like 60 bucks these days, and blank dvds are like 50 cents). i get 4, burn them, send them back for 4 more. i have a wicked dvd collection already. is six feet under part of your hbo experience? im just getting into that, its excellent. i think i'll move on to oz afterwards...

Chris in NF said...

Andrew, you pirate ... and here I was thinking the bandana and cutlass you always wore were just affectations.

mr. tomas ubik said...

have you been introduced to the previews for Rome as of yet...the HBO epic takes a turn for the seriously over produced.

also if you havnt, watch Huff, I think its a product of Showcase.

Even if Showcase did not make Huff that channel deserves a cable lovers mention because of late their racey product has been noteworthy television.

the L word is like sex in the city only with attractive women who want to kiss or mess with one another.

the perfect date show. but seriously Huff, put it on your smart television course unit, im serious when I say it deals with amazing issues all intertwined into the life of a psychiatrist trying to help others while he deals with his own crazies.

alex said...

the l word is an excellent program, similar to sex and the city, minus all the heterosexual sex - appealing to both men and women, i think, or to any individuals who like to watch woman-on-woman romance and whatnot.

if you're looking for dvd series, you should get your hands on some trailer park boys. now that's quality canadian programming.

keep the updates coming! i hope all is well in nf :)

Chris in NF said...

ah, but the best thing about "The L Word"? Mia Kirshner ... mmmm, Mia ...