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Just a few quick pop cultural notes this morning…

I'm thrilled that "Homeland" is back, even though the first two episodes of the fourth season, which began last Sunday, seemed more designed to set up a variety of plots for the coming episodes than to move things forward significantly. We learn that Carrie is back in the field as a CIA station chief in the Middle East, that Saul is dissatisfied with working in the private sector and years to be back at the CIA, that CIA director Andrew Lockhart is still guilty of questionable judgement, and that CIA agent Peter Quinn is beginning to resemble a John le Carre protagonist. And we learn that much like in real life, events in the Middle East are spinning out of control, and that despite her bipolar disorder - or maybe because of it - Carrie is simply able to see things other people don't see, though these same qualities also make her a lousy mother.

The cast remains stellar - Claire Danes as Carrie continues to give a completely unsentimental performance, daring us not to like her - and there was a moment last Sunday when I thought she was going to do something as horrible as anything I've ever seen on TV, and it would've been entirely in character. And Mandy Patinkin's Saul is the guy we all wish were running things in DC - he has a soul, but also a hard-headed intellectualism that allows him to make hard and even unethical decisions when necessary.

It'll be interesting to see where "Homeland" goes from here. There's no Nicholas Brody to deal with, and therefore geopolitics is likely to play a larger role than Carrie's emotional life. I'll be there next Sunday, and every Sunday after that.




And then, of course, on Sunday, November 9, "The Newsroom" returns for its final season. Yippee.




Some other fall television notes…

I actually like the beginning of the television season, because I watch lots of pilots and first episodes just to get a taste of what the networks are offering. I stay with very few of them in the long run, but it is a fun process. For example…

"Gotham"…the Batman prequel story, focusing on Det. Jim Gordon's adventures in Gotham City while Bruce Wayne is still a child, is very interesting - lots of atmosphere, strong performances, and enough hints of what is to come to make it compelling for those of who are Dark Knight fans.

"The Flash"…loved the pilot, but I'm not sure there is enough there to keep me coming back. But I think it'll be a big hit for the CW network.

"How To Get Away With Murder"…I have no idea yet what this show is about, even though I've seen the pilot, but I'm intrigued, though confused by the time-humping style. Might be a binge-watching show down the line.

"Bad Judge"…what an awful piece of crap.

"Madame Secretary"…is sort of like "The West Wing" lite, undermined by a wooden performance by Keith Carradine as the president. (It may not be his fault; it is not a character that is well written.) But I love Tea Leoni as the secretary of state, and the heart of the show, IMHO, is her relationship with Tim Daly, who plays her college professor husband, and their assorted children.

"The Mysteries of Laura"…dull stuff.

"Forever"…ditto. (Though I'm glad to see the great Judd Hirsch back on TV.)

"Scorpion"…loved the pilot, but I'm done.

"NCIS: New Orleans"…my favorite guilty pleasure of the season. Like great meat loaf…entertainment comfort food, and it's got Scott Bakula.




Finally … last week, I met my friend Bob Morris at Prato in Winter Park, Florida, for a drink … and we had an absolutely phenomenal beer - something called Yonder Bock Tropical Malbock, which is a collaboration between Sierra Nevada and Cigar City Brewing. It is an absolutely wonderful brew - silky and malty, but with a little bit of tropical fruit (though not much, which is good, because I don't like fruity beers). I'm told that this beer has Cuban roots, which strikes me as a good enough reason to open up all trade with Cuba and start flying regularly to Havana.

Great stuff.




That's it for this week.

Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

Slàinte!
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