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October 23, 2007

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Another HBO show I've really enjoyed watching on DVD is "Rome". No need to subscribe for it, though. After just two seasons, it's over now.

You couldn't get into Deadwood?!?

Deadwood - A+
Rome - A+
Six Feet Under - A
The Sopranos - A+
Curb Your Enthusiasm - A-, with occasional A++ strokes of genius
Sex and the City - B+

HBO management responsible for canceling Deadwood and Rome - F-

Another great cable (FX) cop show I heard a lot about but couldn't see until it recently hit (broadcast) syndication is "The Shield", starring and produced by Michael Chiklis.

A great show about morality, politics, sexuality, race, and family, focusing on a volcanic LAPD strike team leader who dances back and forth across the legal lines surrounding him. It's alternately hyper-subtle then kinetically explosive - psychologically rich characters in evolving relationships peppered with blasts of ultraviolence.

Just the way I like it!

John: Sorry to say I've never seen "Curb Your Enthusiasm," although I've heard so many excerpts on "Fresh Air" that I get the general idea. As for "Deadwood," the only episode I've seen was one of the last episodes of the first season. I couldn't keep track of the characters or the plot lines--which is the same problem a viewer would have coming into "The Wire" in mid-season. "Deadwood" just looked dark and tormented. I recently learned via Steven Pinker, author of "The Stuff of Thought," that the swearing in "Deadwood" is far from authentic: the most shocking swear words in the 19th century were religious, not sexual or scatalogical. But a 21st-century viewer wouldn't be scandalized by "hellfire and damnation" the way an actual Deadwood resident would have been, so the writers took considerable liberties. Like David Simon, I'm kind of an authenticity nut, so this bothers me.

Mark and Janet: I've heard lots of good things about "The Shield" and "Rome" and really should check them out. Thanks for the reminders!

I'd implore you to give "Mad Men" another chance. It just got good after you quit, IMHO, and kept setting off in unexpected directions once it established the core cultural references you identified. That said, "The Wire" is on our list.

"Curb Your Enthusiasm" -- in a nutshell, it's a half-hour paper cut.

You'll love the 4th season. Truly the most engaging and heartbreaking. I, like you came to the show the same way, didn't subscibe to HBO, watched it on DVD, went through the entire series in a matter of weeks. I can't wait for the 4th seaon to come out on DVD and anxiously looking forward to the 5th.

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