I was aiming for Monday, I honestly was, but here we are again on Wonder Woman Wednesday thanks to tele and work – you know, my usual litany of excuses. Anyway, usual catch-up rules because of my August holiday break: I’ll update you on what’s been happening in all the issues I missed, but only with the titles that were out last week. Also, no mentioning of today’s new releases because spoilers.
That means that this week, it’s a recap of all that’s been going on in Justice League (Rebirth) #2-5, as well as a look at new title Trinity #1. Well, Trinity (Rebirth) #1 technically, but since there hasn’t been a Trinity title in ages and ages, we’ll just gloss over that wrinkle.
All that after the break, but I should probably mention that our Diana also needed a helping hand from Superman last week in Superman #7. She didn’t ask and she wasn’t the only one, but helped he did.
Turns out that Paris thing was a ruse of Greg Rucka, unless Diana was back in London to pick up her things or something.
While my general antipathy to TV shows based around the music industry is well known and formalised enough that I can claim to be “tough on music TV, tough on the causes of music TV”, another general genre dislike I have is for TV shows based around sport. This is less well known because there aren’t generally that many sports shows on TV – a Ballers here, a Barracuda there, a Necessary Roughness over there, a Back In the Game at the back, but that’s about it, fortunately.
But I do, even when it’s a sport in which I’m interested, such as MMA. Sorry, Kingdom.
A show about baseball like Pitch? That would normally stand no great a chance of my watching it than that a whelk has of surviving a supernova. But thanks to a bit of recasting back in March that saw Elisabeth Shue replaced, Pitch managed to make me slightly interested in the fact it even existed by hiring a certain someone special.
Yep, after being unceremoniously dumped in the Legends season 2 reboot last year, TMINE’s first TV love, Ali Larter, is back on our screens, this time playing a baseball agent. Fingers crossed this isn’t another sporting event she’s going to be edited out of, too.
Big yawns so far on the plot, but Pitch is all about what happens when baseball team the San Diego Padres recruits the world’s first ever female Major League baseball player (Kylie Bunbury). She may not be as strong as the other pitchers, but she does have a secret weapon taught to her by her father (Michael Beach) – a surprising ‘screwball pitch’ that enables her to fox the batters.
Can she cope with the pressure, the expectations, the adulation of little girls everywhere, the demands of her dad, the misogyny of the Internet and sports commentators, and the dickery of her team-mates, including the now slightly aging captain Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Saved By The Bell, Truth Be Told, Franklin and Bash, Raising the Bar)?
To be honest, I didn’t really care, probably because baseball is a sport that’s basically as dull as rounders but which you need to drink beer during to make remotely tolerable. But Pitch also makes the entire first episode play out like every other ‘underdog against the odds’ sports drama you’ve ever seen, from the initial failure that makes our heroine think she’s never going to make it all the way to her triumphant – but not too triumphant, because that wouldn’t be realistic – breakthrough at the end. Gosselaar even has to deliver a powerful motivational speech near the end when Bunbury’s at her lowest and so aware of the formula is he that he actually says before it, “If this were a movie, this is the point where I would give you a powerful motivational speech that would help you win.”
There is a little variety, with Gosselaar and Bunbury’s former teammate Mo McRae turning in surprisingly amusing performances. ‘Character actor Bob Balaban’, to give him his full title, is marvellous as the Padres’ owner. And there’s also a whole bunch of people, none of whom I recognised or even came to close to recognising, who I’m pretty sure either play baseball professionally or talk about it on TV. If you like baseball, that might appeal to you for a reason almost as unfathomable as your liking baseball.
There’s also a very big revelation towards the end of the episode that’s actually pretty clever. However, that can only be pulled off once, leaving subsequent episodes to fend for themselves with the show’s standard foundations instead.
But apart from Gosselaar, Larter (of course) and just generally wanting to root for the first female anything, even something as pointless as Major League pitcher, there’s not much in Pitch for anyone who doesn’t like a sport where you spend as much time plugging data into Excel spreadsheets and using the AVERAGE() formula as you do watching players standing around with big wooden sticks.
“Tough on sports TV, tough on the causes of sports TV” – I wonder if it’ll catch on?
TV news producer – sexy job? Probably not. Mainly just people sitting down, looking at spreadsheets, working horrible hours and getting an ulcer while trying to work out where today’s top story could come from.
Criminal defence attorney – sexy job? Probably not. Mainly just people sitting down, looking at abstruse papers, working horrible hours and getting an ulcer while trying to work out where an obviously guilty client’s defence is going to come from.
But when you stick them together, hey? Sexy, right?
Nope. Two ulcers, that’s what. Duh. But Notorious nevertheless tries to convince of the two careers’ combined sexiness by using the simple tactic of removing reality from the equation altogether.
Like CBS’s Bull,Notorious is ‘inspired’ by real people’s lives – in this case, those of criminal defence attorney Mark Geragos and Larry King Live news producer Wendy Walker. Like Bull, that means it’s almost certainly nothing like their lives, but a big fat development check will still be heading their way.
The lovely Piper Perabo (Covert Affairs) plays the top news producer who’s also best friends with top defence attorney Daniel Sunjata (Graceland). He gives her scoops with all his most media-worthy clients, she gives him the heads up when sh*t starts heading their way – it’s all win-win for them both.
Then Sunjata’s top billionaire client, who coincidentally happens to be married to Sunjata’s ex-girlfriend, appears to wrap his car around a person and Perabo and Sunjata are having to help each other out without ruining their friendship. Except things aren’t quite as they seem and before you know it, Perabo and Sunjata are investigating the crime themselves – and each other.
Even without clients claiming they’d taken pain medication that caused them to ‘sleep drive’, this is nonsense of the highest order. Improbably, Perabo’s assistant happens to be a former escort, a handy former career that helps her to secure all manner of scoops and is in no sense stigmatised. And maybe life on Larry King Live was a lot stranger than we imagine, but Perabo’s star anchor (Kate Jennings Grant) spends most of her time in her underwear, shagging rappers before she’s due to be on-screen. Oh yes, shagging rappers who organise indoor barbecues in her dressing room. That’s not unlikely, is it?
Sunjata presides over a slightly more plausible firm that includes the likes of J August Richards (Angel), except he’s the kind of go-to top attorney who’ll go to a car impound lot at night so he can extract a great big bag of cocaine and dispose of it, rather than get someone else to do it. I wonder if that’ll look a bit encriminating?
There is struggling in Notorious something interesting being said about the interplay between the media and the law when it comes to celebrities and how the truth is a rapidly diminishing aspect of cable news that the quest for ratings is obscuring. Unfortunately, said message is struggling beneath a layer of absurdity that makes Scandal look like a documentary about the Eisenhower White House years.
I wish the cast well in their future careers, but you should try to help speed them on their way, by not watching this Notorious and watching the rather marvellous Cary Grant/Ingrid Bergman thriller instead.
In the US: Sundays, 10.30pm, HBO. Starts October 9 In the UK: Acquired by Sky Atlantic. Will air in October
Don’t let my TV-set avatar fool you. I’m not actually an everyday household appliance. Let me reveal to you now that I’m actually a middle-aged, middle-class, white guy from London who doesn’t get out much and who’s never spent longer than a week in the US.
Now I think about it, you probably worked all that out for yourselves already.
Anyway, that ‘revelation’ means that it shouldn’t surprise you that I have no idea what it’s like to be a twentysomething, educated, single black American woman. I can guess, but you might as well be asking me the length of the Emperor of China’s nose.
To be fair, though, judging by Insecure, twentysomething, educated, single black American women aren’t quite sure what it’s like to be a twentysomething, educated, single black American woman – or at least, they know what it’s like but they’re pretty sure it’s different from what it’s supposed to be like.
Based on her own web series, Awkward Black Girl, Insecure is co-written by and stars Issa Rae, who plays a well meaning member of an outreach programme for inner city schools. The only black member of the programme, she finds herself seen by her white colleagues as their ‘in’ to the ghetto, even though the kids all mock this college graduate for ‘not talking like a black girl’. Meanwhile, her boyfriend of five years is still trying to get his act together and her attorney best friend is looking for a man – perhaps any man – who doesn’t respond with ‘I’m not looking for a relationship at the moment’ when pressed for any degree of commitment.
The show is co-written by former Daily Show correspondent Larry Wilmore, who’s established himself as a guarantee of clever, insightful comedy writing about African-American life with shows such as black-ish and his own show, The Nightly Show. Together, Rae and he have created something that’s not really laugh out loud funny, but which has the ring of authenticity, as well as sympathetic, recognisable characters.
Rae is herself a top performer, successfully depicting someone who’s navigating through all of society’s stereotypes about women, American-Americans and American-American women. One stand out scene has Rae rehearsing for a night out, running through a gamut of different ‘black women’, including one fairly decent English black woman (“No, you drive on the wrong side of the road”), before collapsing into a heap of self-doubt (“No, that’s too aggressive”).
Will I stick with it? Maybe. It’s got a lot to say that’s interesting, but I’m potentially too far away (continents and decades) for it to truly grab me. But I will say that not being a big BET or OWN viewer, I’ve not seen anything like it before and new always interests me. Give it a whirl, because it might be new for you, too.