Television This Week

Once Upon a Time  -  Sunday 8-9 on ABC.  Not quite sure how the writers are going to end this season, but it's fascinating to watch.

House  -  Monday 9-10 on Fox. Like many television shows–and like just about every successful show–House ran for too long. Of course what made the show a hit wasn't the medical case each and every week which was hyped in the commercials and promos, but Hugh Laurie's performance. His comic timing was impeccable and his ability to

Eureka  -  Monday 9-10 on SyFy. Very sad to see that Felicia Day got killed off last week and wondering exactly where things are headed.

Don't Trust the B in Apt 23  -  Wednesday 9:30-10 on ABC. I've been enjoying this series, though as someone who didn't watch Dawson's Creek and all I know about James Vanderbeek is that he starred on that show, I keep feeling like I'm missing jokes. I don't mind too much. Though I am getting tired of actors playing themselves on sitcoms. And I'm getting tired of shows about show biz, even in small doses.

Revenge  -  Wednesday 10-11 on ABC. I know it's trashy, but it's like doritos. It may not be good for you, but it's so damn enjoyable, you don't notice.

Fringe  -  Friday 9-10 on Fox.  Every season of Fringe ends with a bang and this one looks to be no different. What will the first of a two-part season finale bring...? We shall find out.


Leela Corman talks about "Unterzakhn"

I spoke with Leela Corman recently about her book "Unterzakhn" which I loved. In the introduction to our conversation, I stated that the book establishes her as among the first class of American cartoonists and I wasn't just trying to sound bombastic to get more people to read. It's a great book.


Guy Delisle on tour

The great cartoonist Guy Delisle is touring North America this week and next, which happens rarely, so if you're interested in him or his work, you should make an effort if you live nearby. He'll be in New York City tonight in conversation with Benjamen Walker (whose show Too Much Information I've raved about before). Jerusalem is Delisle's best book to date and if you're on the fence, the book was excerpted in Foreign Policy.

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and Carla Speed McNeil's Finder

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books was last weekend. I always loved going when I lived in Los Angeles. I would catch the bus and spend the day at UCLA, where the festival was held. I remember meeting authors, hanging out with friends (getting a sunburn, usually) and having just a great time. Westwood was just a short walk away and we'd grab lunch or dinner before going back home. It was just a great time and it was the kind of event that I wish Los Angeles (and other places) had more of.

Of course now the festival is held at USC. Having never set foot on the USC campus, I have no idea how that would work (though if I still lived in the Valley, I doubt I would bus it all the way to USC) but I'm glad to hear that the festival seems to have been a success.

I was also glad to hear and read that DC co-publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee were grilled a little about Before Watchmen and some of their recent moves. I don't expect DC or those individuals to do anything differently no matter how much ire is directed at them, but I'm glad that they're constantly being called to defend their position and are forced to go on the record time and again.

My trend of very rarely reading the winners of the Book Prizes continues this year. The one I did read, though, is the winner for Best Graphic Novel. Carla Speed McNeil's "Finder: Voice" was a great book and it didn't get as much attention as I thought it deserved. It's a great book for longtime fans of Finder and it's such a great book that new readers can jump right into (or those of who have read Finder but it's been a while and we don't have the time to reread books as often as we'd like and have managed to forget a lot). A great book from a great writer and artist. A reminder that she needs to complete her next book soon. (Pretty please!)

Caitlin R. Kiernan talks "Alabaster: Wolves," "The Drowning Girl" and more

Over at Suicidegirls, I spoke with Caitlin Kiernan, the fabulous fantasy writer about her new novel "The Drowning Girl: A Memoir" and her new comic, the five issue miniseries "Alabaster: Wolves," the first issue of which is out now from Dark Horse Comics.


Tracy K. Smith and Philip Levine at Housing Works

I wish I was in New York City for this. Housing Works is having a great event Monday night. Philip Levine who is our current Poet Laureate here in U.S. (besides being the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize, two National Book Awards, National Book Critics Circle Award, Guggenheim Fellowship, etc etc.) will be reading with Tracy K. Smith who last week became the most recent poet to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize. I'm a great admirer of Levine and his work, but I would have especially liked to hear Smith read.

Smith was awarded the Pulitzer–on her 40th birthday–for her collection Life on Mars, which I think was one of if not the best new poetry collection I read last year. It really was an amazing piece of work. Here's a link to one of her poems titled "My God, It's Full of Stars":

Bill Griffith appears on Too Much Information

I'm a big fan of Benjamen Walker and his radio show Too Much Information which originates on WFMU out of Jersey City, NJ. I subscribe the podcast and love the odd colorful stories Walker assembles and he's a great fan of cartoonists. He did an hour long interview with Chester Brown last year and has run pieces on Tony Millionaire and Christophe Blain and once had Jeet Heer on to talk about the political legacy of Little Orphan Annie.

Monday April 23rd from 6-7 pm, Griffith will be appearing live in the studio with Walker to talk about his new book Lost and Found, Zippy the Pinhead and more. As someone who has interviewed Griffith live, it'll be a lot of fun.

I wish I had been in Dubai this weekend...

The first Middle East Film and Comic Con happened in Dubai over the weekend. I wish I could have been there. From all the accounts it sounds like it was a great time. Congrats to Arafaat Ali Khan and everyone else who made the convention it a success.


Shah Rukh Khan Detained Why Exactly?

So one of the biggest, most recognizable stars in the world comes to the United States and gets detained. I'm sorry he wasn't detained, he was "questioned" according to authorities. This is what I don't understand. The man was detained a few years ago entering the U.S. and the Indian embassy had to intervene, there was a small uproar, an official apology was issued. One would think that perhaps when Shah Rukh Khan went through customs this time, his name might get flagged with a little note that says something to the effect of "Don't Detain Him! We don't want to cause an international incident!"

Of course having now posted this, I'm sure the odds of my being detained the next time I go through airport security will rise.

After the last incident, Khan said he would cut back on visiting the US after receiving such treatment. It's hard to blame him.

Why do people get angry about taking off their shoes and walking through x-ray machines that are supposedly safe and getting patted down and waiting in lines for hours?...because events like this make it clear that if the TSA is keeping us safe, it's largely by accident.
I think a lot of cable channels have their partisans on Sunday nights. AMC has Mad Men and The Killing. HBO has Game of Thrones, plus their new shows Veep and Girls. On Masterpiece this week there's Birdsong, the first of a two-part adaption of the Sebastian Faulk novel starring Eddie Redmayne and Clemence Poesy. CBS has 60 Minutes, The Good Wife and the new NYC 22. ABC has Once Upon a Time, which is my particular favorite.

Also Fox is celebrating 25 years as a network.

Eureka and Lost Girl  -  SyFy Channel, Monday 9-11. After the first episode, I'm not sure what I think of what looks to be this season's plot line on Eureka, but i'll watch every episode of the final season regardless. It's never been about the long plot lines on that show for me. One episode into the new season of Lost Girl, this season's plot seems to be less stability, more uncertainty and new craziness. I'm up for that.

House  -  Fox, Monday 9-10. The show winds down heading towards its finale. It may be past its prime, but Hugh Laurie is always fun to watch.

Don't Trust the B in Apt. 23  -  ABC, Wednesday at 9:30. I watched both episodes of this new show lst week and I was impressed by the fact that the show was a lot smarter than I thought it would be based on the title and the ads. The characters are all screwed up in their own unique way but it's ultimately a show about friendship and it's fun.

Revenge  -  ABC, Wednesday at 10. It's a guilty pleasure but it's a lot of fun.

Community, 30 Rock, The Office, Parks and Recreation  -  NBC, Thursday 8-10. A good excuse to laugh.

Scandal  -  ABC, Thursday at 10. I've given this show a shot. I love Kerry Washington and am a big fan of some of the other actors on the show, but honestly, I just don't like the show. The dialogue is okay but there are times where it's clear that the show is trying to establish a rhythm, but it just comes off as flat. More importantly, I just don't want to watch this kind of show. I love Kerry Washington, but honestly, I don't want to watch her try to spin her clients out of trouble every week. Scandal may be set in Washington DC but it's not a show about politics the way The West Wing was, it's a show about tabloid culture. Washington's character Olivia Pope isn't out to save the world, feed the starving, balance the budget. She's a "gladiator in a suit" as one character refers to them. She's out for herself and her clients. I guess a happy ending of the show will be her in a good relationship helping people get acquitted at rape trials. That's fine. I just have better things to do with my time.

Fringe  -  Fox, Friday at 9. Just a few episodes left until the season finale and I have no idea what's going to happen next and how it will all end. One of the reasons I like this show.

Grimm  -  NBC, Friday at 9. Last week's show was another good episode and the series seems to be finally hitting its stride.

Fairly Legal and In Plain Sight  -  USA, Friday at 9-11. I like the lead actors in each of these shows (Sarah Shahi and Mary McCormack, respectively) but I'm not a big fan of the shows. I feel a little bad about that.


Possibly the Greatest Conference on Comics Ever

I wish I could be in Chicago next month to attend this conference at the University of Chicago. It's called Comics: Philosophy and Practice and the lineup of creators is pretty spectacular:  Lynda Barry, Alison Bechdel, Ivan Brunetti, Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, R Crumb, Phoebe Gloeckner, Justin Green, Ben Katchor, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Francoise Mouly, Gary Panter, Joe Sacco, Seth, Art Spiegelman, Carol Tyler, Chris Ware.

It's all being overseen by Hillary Chute who's a professor at the University of Chicago and someone I've never met but I'm admittedly a bit in awe of. She authored the book "Graphic Women" and worked with Art Spiegelman on "MetaMaus" which she was associate editor of and interviewed Spiegelman for the lengthy conversation in the book.

If only someone paid for me to attend such conferences...

Eureka and Lost Girl on SyFy

When I wrote up my "This Week in Television" column, I forgot two items. Both of which were on the same channel, though, so at least there's some symmetry. SyFy. Admittedly, I still find the channel somewhat annoying for changing their name to the strange pairing of syllables, but that's neither here nor there.

Eureka returns for what, sadly, will be the show's last season. I've liked the show from the beginning, though admittedly, I've never loved it. It has always been interesting and it's constantly been fun, even when some of the longer plot arcs never quite came together. What made the show work was the show's sense of humor and sense of wonder. There are too few science fantasy shows that have a sense of fun and wonder towards the world.

The cast was what kept the show working and what kept viewers coming back. Joe Morton has been one of favorite actors for years, though I can't help but feel he's been underused for much of the series. He's been the jack of trades who in the end comes through and manages to help save things, but he's had very little in the way of a personal life for the majority of the season. Initially he was grieving over the death of his wife. When the show was reset at the beginning of season four, he was married and that relationship has been interesting to watch, but it would have been nice for Morton's Henry to have another relationship. A child, maybe?

Regardless, it was the cast of Colin Ferguson, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Erica Cerra, Neil Grayston and Niall Matter who made the show work. Not to mention recurring characters like Matt Frewer, Debrah Farentino and Ed Quinn.

It wasn't a great show, but I will miss spending time with those actors and those characters. Until then, it's good to have them back for a few weeks.

After Eureka ends at 10, Lost Girl returns a week after it finished its first season. The joy of importing a show from Canada. It's lightweight, but I have to admit, I'm enjoying this urban fantasy tale.


David Brothers watches the Watchmen

David Brothers writes what many of us have been thinking. Admittedly he also writes it better than many of us could have put it. Go read:

Chris Mautner on Walt Kelly's Pogo

Chris Mautner wrote about one of the great comic strips, Walt Kelly's Pogo. I'm with Mautner on the strip being just a little too twee, but what I love more than anything about the book is Kelly's style. Pogo is such a lush, intricate strip and Kelly doesn't get nearly enough credit for being such a visual master. The strip's language, I think, has aged. Visually, the strip may be reminiscent of an earlier period of comics, but I think that remains it's strongest element.

Congrats to Steve Bryant about Athena Voltaire

It was just announced that Steve Bryant has signed a new deal with Dark Horse Comics and Sequential Pulp Comics to republish the material that's already been printed and to create new comics and an illustrated prose anthology. It's always great to see creators succeed and Bryant has stuck with the character from webcomic to one publisher and hopefully now this will bring him and the character greater attention.


Television This Week

Things to watch this week while sitting at home trying not to do anything...

Girls  -  Sunday on HBO. I don't actually know what time the show is on but that's because I don't get HBO. We could debate at length whether this reason for this is poverty, frugality or being cheap, but if I had the channel, I would watch this show. When it comes out on DVD a year from now, I will no doubt be every excited about it. The rest of you–then watching season 2–will go, where the hell have you been all this time? I'm okay with that.

NYC 22  -  Sunday at 10. The show is created by Richard Price, one of my favorite writers. I'm not saying "tv writers" or "novelists" or adding any kind of qualifier. His novel Clockers is to my mind a work of genius and is incredibly important to me. Also it stars Leelee Sobieski, who I love. I don't want to watch another cop show, but I will.

How I Met Your Mother  -  Monday at 8. My thoughts are the show are many, complicated and not always positive, but this has been the series' most dramatic season and while it's been far from perfect, I think it's interesting, ambitious and it's really struck a chord with me.

Castle  -  Monday at 10. Not a fan of the show, but I like Nathan Fillion and this week features guest star Adam Baldwin, so I'm taking time out of my life to watch. I reserve the right to turn it off halfway through and put on a Firefly disc, though.

Revenge  -  Wednesday at 10. A friend got me addicted to this show–it's like crack. Or dark chocolate. After a very long delay, the show is finally back. More Amanda, more Takeda and I for one am enjoying how the show has gotten a little darker.

Community, 30 Rock, The Office, Parks and Recreation  -  Thursday at 8-10. Woo hoo! Parks and Rec is back! Finally!

Scandal  -  Thursday at 10. The POV "new girl" character continues to annoy me, but I love Kerry Washington. And Henry Ian Cusick and Columbus Short are kicking ass. The show reminds me that Short has been woefully underused in his career. I've always liked Jeff Perry, though thus far he's been underused. Guillermo Diaz hasn't had enough to do yet either, sadly. Also, did anyone notice that Josh Malina quoted Judge Dredd last week?

The Finder  -  Friday at 8. Last week's episode–written by Josh Friedman (the writer/producer behind Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, the sadly never picked up Locke and Key, and who is developing a pilot for next season I'm keeping my fingers crossed for, The Asset)–was probably the show's best so far. An offbeat request that leads to strange, colorful tale that may be tame by Florida crime standards but was enjoyable and led to a unusual conclusion. Not a great hour of television, but entertaining and different. We'll see how the rest of the season goes.

Fringe  -  Friday at 9. I love Fringe and every 19th episode is a curiosity and this one looks to exceed all expectations. Set in 2036. The Observers. I'm excited.


Tony De Zuniga recovering from a mild stroke

Artist Tony De Zuniga, who co-created the characters Jonah Hex and Black Orchid and is probably best known for illustrating the recent Jonah Hex: No Way Back graphic novel that came out in 2010 to coincide with the film apparently suffered a mild stroke recently. By all accounts, his recovery has gone well, but everyone please send thoughts and prayers in his direction.

Sabrina Goes to the Movies

Sabrina the Teenage Witch is one of the highest profile characters at Archie Comics, thanks in large part to the sitcom starring Melissa Joan Hart (an actress I'll admit to not having thought about for years). Among comics fans, Sabrina is known as the creation of the late great Dan DeCarlo and the story behind the character's creation and DeCarlo's firing by Archie is worthy of dozens of blog posts.

Word has come down that Archie is looking to create a Sabrina movie. According to Deadline, the character is being recast as a superhero. I'll admit that such a statement makes me sigh, but after reading the recent Archie meets Kiss storyline (full disclosure, I'm friendly with the story's writer Alex Segura) but the portrayal of Sabrina in the story could be an excellent jumping off point for a movie or for a series of her own. Not so much the tongue in cheek nature of the story, but the idea that she's protecting the town from monsters in a kind of light-hearted Buffy-esque fashion.

And her appearance, which artist Dan Parent designed, is an outfit that could attract a lot of attention and lots of fans: a schoolgirl outfit with a matching tie and plaid skirt with thigh high stockings. In a movie or a real life, the skirt would probably have to be longer than the mini that Parent drew.

I was in my late teen when I discovered Hayao Miyazaki's movie Kiki's Delivery Service, which is a great flick for kids. A story about a young teenage girl who learns that she has powers and is taught this by women (in the sitcom she had two aunts who were witches and showed her the ropes when she got back from school), well, it could be interesting. One of the great things about Kiki's Delivery Service was this idea that everyone has to find a role and a place in the world–not in the sense of a grand destiny, but the way we all have to find our place in the world. To have this be something handed down from woman to woman would be an interesting dynamic we rarely see. This has real potential to be interesting.

Robert Kirkman's Thief of Thieves Sold to AMC

This isn't surprising. With The Walking Dead being a huge hit for AMC, it's no shock that his next project about a world class thief would attract interest from Hollywood. It's a solid premise and no shock to see AMC step up. The book itself is still findin its legs, though it helps to have a gifted artist like Shawn Martinbrough on board. We'll see where the comic goes from here and whether a tv show takes off.

Alison Bechdel won a Guggenheim Fellowship!

The Guggenheim Fellowships were announced. A lot of great writers received fellowships including Peter Maass, Arthur Phillips, Donald Ray Pollock. Terry Teachout, who's a great drama critic and arts writer and is writing a biography of the legendary Duke Ellington. Two Middle East scholars, Jamal J. Elias at the University of Pennsylvania and Ellis Goldberg at the University of Washington. The great poet and writer Eileen Myles. The physicist and writer Janna Levin, who wrote the fabulous book A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines. Eliza Griswold, whose book The Tenth Parallel won the J. Anthony Lukas Book prize and which I stand in awe of.

But one of this year's recipients is Alison Bechdel, a woman who is one of the great memoirists of our time, and one of the great living cartoonists. She's not the first cartoonist to receive such an honor. A few have previously been won including Joe Sacco, Phoebe Gloeckner and Ben Katchor. Bechdel, who I've interviewed and think is an incredibly nice person and an incredibly gifted artist of the highest caliber. Bechdel's newest book comes out next month, Are You My Mother?, and it's excellent, so this should add to a significant year and bolster an already stellar reputation.

I know that feeling a sense of pride over accomplishments not one's own is illogical, but one of the things that artists and creators sometimes give us, especially over a period of years, is a sense of involvement in their work. I remember being introduced to Alison Bechdel when I was in college, which was before her book Fun Home was released. In the time that I've read her, Bechdel has become more famous, more successful, but more importantly, I think she's a much better, more masterful artist and writer. I think that especially when an artist goes from being a cult figure to one much better known–and becomes better known for being a great artist by doing great work–I think that there is a sense of ownership and pride from those who followed her and had a connection to her work.

According to her bio on the Guggenheim website, Bechdel already has plans for her next book. Hopefully after she goes on book tour and is forced to talk nonstop about Are You My Mother? for months, she can return to Vermont and get some work done.


Dara Naraghi's open letter to Geoff Johns

Dara Naraghi wrote an open letter to Geoff Johns about an event in a recent issue of Aquaman. As someone who doesn't read Aquaman, I wasn't aware of the incident, but having read Naraghi's letter, I have to say that I don't disagree with anything he wrote. His complaint, in brief, is that on page one of a recent issue, a new Iranian superhero is introduced and on page eight, she's killed.

I ponder coming up with a way to look at comics. The number of women and people of color who get speaking roles. How many of them get to speak with another woman or person of color. How many of them survive past the issue in which they're introduced. It's a blatant ripoff of the Bechdel rule, but I think it might be interesting. Don't get me wrong, I have no interest in reading hundreds of comics to actually compose such statistics, but it might be valuable.

I'd like for comics to become more diverse. And it is happening. It's just happening very, very slowly. The truth is that this character's brief existence is a sign of progress. Having a pantheon of almost entirely white and entirely male heroes parading around a diverse world may be a sign of progress, however small, but people need to understand that portraying a world where mostly white males compose the only people worth caring about and who are fighting for the fate of the world is insulting to the world and its people.

Anders Nilsen awarded the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize

Anders Nilsen, who I spoke with when the collected Big Questions was release by Drawn and Quarterly last year, was awarded the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize. I'm a huge fan of the book and Nilsen's work and it's well-deserved.

The judges also named four honorees along with the winner. Among them, Mark Kalesniko, who remains one of those cartoonists who work I love and with Freeway crafted what is arguably his best book. Craig Thompson's Habibi, a book for which I have a number of issues, but it is an ambitious book. Paul Hornschmeier's Life with Mr. Dangerous, which I think is his best book. And Zahra's Paradise, a book about the 2009 Iranian protests, which is a flawed, but incredibly important work.

Christopher Moore talks about his new novel Sacré Bleu

A new Christopher Moore novel is always a cause for celebration. He is one of the funniest writers in America, but his new book Sacré Bleu is something else. It's in the same vein as his earlier novels Lamb and Fool, which may not have been as outlandish and laugh out loud funny as his other books, but they veered into a zany fantastic world. Sacré Bleu involves the murder of Vincent Van Gogh, the color blue, how color was made (which honestly I never thought about until I read the book and it sounds so hard that I'm a little surprised anyone ever did it in the first place), Belle Epoque Paris and impressionist and post-impressionist art. Admittedly, it encompasses a few of my great passions (those schools of art, those artists, Paris) but it is a great book and Moore's best to date, I think. I spoke to him for Suicidegirls:


Television This Week

The second season of Being Human concludes on the SyFy Channel Monday at 9 pm and then the first season of Lost Girl ends at 10. If you've been enjoying the urban fantasy adventures of succubus Bo, then you're in luck, season two starts next Monday at 10. (The joy of importing a series with a few seasons under its belt)

Smash continues on NBC with Uma Thurman. I'll admit to a childhood crush/adolescent obsession with Uma, so I can't be objective.

Independent Lens on PBS is showing Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey. The story of Kevin Clash, a middle-aged African-American who happens to be one of the most beloved people on television (possibly the world) who no one really knows or sees–because he's the man behind Elmo. I'm admittedly not a big Elmo fan. I think he's a muppet who works best in small doses. Clash though is a master puppeteer. He was the baby on the tv show Dinosaurs, Splinter in the TMNT movies, Clifford on Muppets Tonight and a few other projects. Clash is also the man behind one of my favorite all-time muppets–Hoots the Owl. (I know. Not an obvious choice. This is a topic that deserves an essay of its own) This is my way of saying that if you haven't seen the documentary, it's going to be on TV for free, so you have no excuse.

There's a recap episode of Revenge on ABC in what I think is its usual time slot. I write "I Think" because it's been so long since the show was on the air, I don't remember what night it aired. And not to be a pain, but if the show had aired in recent months, a recap episode wouldn't be necessary...

New episodes of Community and 30 Rock. Go watch.

The Office returns. It's been an uneven year in Scranton and it looks as if the show won't be around for too much longer – showrunner Paul Lieberstein is leaving at the end of the season to develop a spinoff starring Rainn Wilson for midseason next year, James Spader is leaving, Mindy Kaling is writing and starring in a pilot for next year. I'd like to see the show get a season or half-season sendoff that does justice to what the show used to be.

Scandal. I wasn't blown away by the pilot, but I liked it. I was admittedly expecting more of director Paul McGuigan (Sherlock, Gangster No. 1). Kerry Washington was good, though her character felt underwritten. I like Henry Ian Cusick (though he'll always be Desmond). Columbus Short was good. Our new member of the team POV character annoyed me. Tony Goldwyn didn't impress me playing the President of the US. But we'll see where it goes. My main stumbling block is that the show is going to be about sex and murder with a soap opera background. And that's fine. I don't wnt to claim that there's no place for that on TV. It's just that Washington is about much more.

The Finder. The show isn't as good as it could be, not quite as good as it should be and fails to rise to the level of the two actors, Geoff Stults and Michael Clarke Duncan. It also fails to be as interesting or subversive as the Richard Greener novel it was based off of (though i didn't expect it to be remotely subversive). It's fine.

Grimm. There's monsters and creatures and some violence and a conspiracy in the background. Also, it's set in Oregon, which is nice. And it seems as if Sasha Roiz might finally get to do something as we move towards the season finale.

Fringe. I love Fringe.


I spoke with James Sallis for The Daily Beast

I'm a big fan of James Sallis. I'm a fan of his novels, among them "Drive," the basis for last year's movie of the same name starring Ryan Gosling, his Lew Griffin books, The Turner Trilogy. His new book, out this week, is "Driven," which yes, is a sequel to "Drive." The other reason I'm a big fan of Sallis is the sheer breadth of his work. Besides his novels, he's a poet, critic and short story writer, a musicologist, wrote a biography of the writer Chester Himes, and translated Raymond Queneau from French into English.

It was a thrill to talk with Sallis. We spoke about Phoenix and crime, the movies and sequels, structure and the writing life. I'll post some excerpts from the longer interview before it was edited, but this is one of my favorite insights that Sallis offered into his own work from the article:

Have movies had an influence on your work?
As my major influences I often claim bad science-fiction movies of the ‘50s. After that, a steady decade or three of foreign films, especially French. Films made me realize how atmosphere can be created in so many ways—mist rising from a grating, a casual glance, rain running down a window—and how much can be passed to the viewer, or to the reader, nondiscursively; how much space one might leave around the story, the characters, the setting.


What to do now that Endgame is over

I finished watching Endgame on hulu. The Canadian show is about Arkady Balagan, an agoraphobic Russian chess master who solves crimes from an upscale Vancouver hotel. I'm a sucker for Nero Wolfe-ish mysteries and the series manages to do a good job of balancing the sad pathos of the character, the darker aspects of the crimes he investigates, with the fun entertaining elements of the stories, usually as a result of the many people around him and his Holmes-esque ability to unnerve and ignore social convention.

Also, I enjoyed getting to see what Vancouver looks like. I mean I watch American television, so I've seen thousands of hours of tv that have been shot in Vancouver, but I'm not sure I've ever seen the city play itself. The shoreline and downtown look very pretty. I'll definitely have to visit the next time I'm in the region.

Of course the show may not get renewed...sigh...

Now I need to find another mystery show.

I am curious how the experiment of showing the series on hulu went. A show like Lost Girl, which is currently running on the SyFy channel has a good outlet for that kind of programming, but Endgame doesn't have a channel with that kind of built-in audience. I think the series could do well on cable, USA or A&E or TNT. I think it could also work well on network television as well, especially if a channel were to run the series for thirteen weeks in a row, say, during the summer? I think it could have a good shot to find an audience. We'll see what happens.

Television This Week

What's new, what's ending, what I'll watch, what perversely intrigues me on screens this week:

Great Expectations on Masterpiece on PBS. Gillian Anderson stars in this adaptation of the Dickens' novel with Ray Winstone. Who doesn't love Agent Scully? Admittedly, she seems a bit young to play Miss Haversham, but that seems a minor complaint.

Happy Endings completes it's season. It's an oddball show, the writing can be uneven, but it has a great cast who are up for just about anything. Casey Wilson's Penny is one of my favorite characters on tv and Adam Pally's Max has to be one of the best gay characters on tv.

Bent. I enjoyed this sitcom when it first premiered a couple weeks back. sadly the network doesn't care, hasn't promoted it, and is simply burning off episodes. The show ends it's very appreviated run this week and it's a shame. Amanda Peet and David Walton make a great couple. Jeffrey Tambor's character could use some work, but the supporting cast including J.B. Smoove and Margo Harshman do a great job. It's sad because with Bent having come and gone so quickly and Free Agents dying a quick death in the fall, there aren't many shows about adults dealing with adult problems.

Scandal. I love Kerry Washington, so I'll watch at least one episode. I know a show about a Washington, D.C. troubleshooter will have plenty of material to work from, I'm just not sure I want to watch a fictionalized version about how most people in Washington care about power and self-interest more than, well, everything else. It has a good cast, though, so we'll see.

The Killing Returns to AMC. I gave up on the show to be honest, but I am curious as to whether Ginia Bellafante will be reviewing the show for the New York Times after her puzzlingly bizarre review of the finale last year, which quite frankly, didn't make any sense. I may not have liked the show for a variety of reasons (and am annoyed that it will take two seasons to find out who killed one teenager), but at least I'm not going to radically reinterpret what I watched. Of course, Bellafante, who became internet famous for her puzzling and hateful review of Game of Thrones last year, is laughing about how people like me who make a fraction of the money she does for smaller and less prominent publications than the Times are sniping at her for hating entire genres and spitting in the face of women.