retail news in context, analysis with attitude

As you're reading this, I'm almost certainly under anesthesia.

Nothing to worry about. It's just that it was time to have a colonoscopy, and so yesterday I went through all the prep ... which sort of made writing MNB a bit of a challenge. (Hard to get any writing momentum going. Though there was plenty of other momentum, if you know what I mean...)



As I said recently, one of the nice things about iTunes is that a number of the networks make pilot episodes available for free. That means that I've been able, while on airplanes and such, to watch a few of them to see if there's anything worth following.

The answer, I'm afraid, is no.

The quality has varied. A couple of the shows - "The Goldbergs" and "Back In The Game" - are execrable. They are badly written, badly acted, badly conceived and not worth 22 seconds of your time, much less 22 minutes.

I felt a little bit differently about "The Crazy Ones" (the new Robin Williams sitcom), "The Michael J. Fox" Show," and "Trophy Wife." They aren't bad ... the acting is good, and they show glimmers of creativity, but I couldn't help thinking that they didn't exactly represent highest common denominator thinking. I feel a little guilty about criticizing "The Michael J. Fox Show," considering the backstory - the lead character, like the actor who plays him, is grappling with having a normal life after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. But it could be a lot better. As could much of television.

One new show I like very much is "The Blacklist," which has a Silence of the Lambs vibe , with James Spader as a master criminal who volunteers to help the FBI track down criminals, but will only talk to a young, female agent with whom he appears to have no connection. Spader is a hoot, the stories so far are strong, and I want to see what happens next.
Same goes for "Homeland," which is back on Showtime for its third season ... a show that I find utterly compelling, even when it gets implausible. A lot of that can be attributed to wonderful performances by Clare Danes, Mandy Patinkin and Damien Lewis. Plus, it trades on the national paranoia that is so prevalent these days.

And finally ... I am so happy that "The Voice" is back. I hate myself for being addicted to it, but there is a general cheeriness about this talent show that is contagious. I root for the singers, I love the judges, and I enjoy pretty much every moment, because it is about celebrating talent, not mocking it. Which is a business lesson, I think.




There is wonderful movie out that you absolutely need to see - Enough Said, a lovely romantic comedy written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, and starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini in one of his last performances before his untimely death earlier this year.

Enough Said is about the nascent romance between two divorced, middle aged people - a TV show librarian (such things exist in Los Angeles) played by Gandolfini, and a masseuse, played by Louis-Dreyfus. Things get complicated when one of Louis-Dreyfus's clients begins complaining bitterly about her ex-husband ... who, of course, ends up being Gandolfini. Now, this may sound like a sitcom, but it is played for subtle laughs and recognizable drama, with characters who seem utterly real and situations that seem utterly plausible.

Go see it. You'll be glad you did.




Two wines to recommend this week...both whites that are excellent with grilled or spicy seafood. I heartily recommend the 2011 Tin Barn High Vista Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, and the 2012 Longboard Sauvignon Blanc. Enjoy.



That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

Slàinte!
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