TV Draft Round 6 – Pick 7 – Mike Selects – The West Wing

The West Wing

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Mike at https://musiccitymike.net

The West Wing

Binge-watching The West Wing (1999-2005) was the best Social Studies lesson I have ever received. Episode-after-episode, I learned more about the inner workings of the US Government through the realism depicted in this series than any classroom lecture or textbook could ever have taught me. It’s been a while, and with all of the crazy politics our nation has recently seen, maybe it’s time for a revisit to see how this television series seemed to make it work better than it has been lately!

Created by the brilliant Aaron Sorkin, the show gives such a detailed look inside the working wing of the White House that you feel like you labor there along with the all-star cast. It also doesn’t take long to realize how dedicated and committed of a profession it is and why many staffers fail to survive the full four-year (let alone eight) term of their president. I know I wouldn’t buy too many tickets for concerts or baseball games since it’s a given that some foreign or domestic crisis is gonna have you working late or on the weekend.

However, giving credit where it’s due, as well-written as each episode was (especially the Sorkin ones), the true success of The West Wing came from its incredible roster of talented actors.

Marin Sheen is absolutely perfect as the much-loved President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet. Playing a Democrat, he never shows an overt partisan disdain for the “other side” that is too commonplace in Washington these days. It’s said that he was modeled somewhat after Bill Clinton who is often claimed to be our last true “moderate” in the White House. On the silly side, I also just loved how Jed would step outside onto the patio and relax with a smoke. It somehow made him seem more real. Was this inspiration for Barrack Obama who was said to have done the same?

Over the show’s seven seasons, we see the nation and the world go through all sorts of wild stuff and watch how the president and his team get into action. Voting matters were most interesting. There’s usually first the strategy for developing the solution followed by creating to the path to get the necessary votes in Congress. How the staff keeps the tabs on the later was always fascinating. Then there is the communications part where we see the influence of the communications director adeptly played by Richard Schiff who works with his lead speech writer, first played by a surprising at the time, amazing Rob Lowe, and later by an equally fine Joshua Malina. Seeing the speech writer in action reminds the viewer that some of those great presidential quotes came from someone else’s pen.

Actor John Spencer plays the chief of staff and gives insight into what is likely the most important role in the White House. Sadly, his untimely real-life death had to be worked into the storyline. He was replaced by actress Allison Janey’s character who we previously got to know in the equally important, and highly visible role of the press secretary.

And you will also love the First Family, albeit a small one, with Stockard Channing as the First Lady and Elisabeth Moss in her television debut as their daughter Zoey. The young lady gets a good share of screen time when she gets into a relationship with her dad’s aide Charlie played by the delightful Dulé Hill who would later star on the series Psych.

Since we are dealing with politics, there are of course a scandal or two as well as everyone’s favorite time of year, the elections! After making it through Bartlet’s eight years, we do see someone new get into the Oval Office, but I won’t spoil that for you. But be sure to watch for one of my favorite television scenes of all time when the unrecognized losing candidate of the Presidential Election on the morning after his loss is asked to give them his first name at Starbucks! The series then ends on the hopeful reconciliatory note whereby this member of the opposing party’s cup of coffee is followed by an offer to join the new Cabinet. If things could only be more like this today in the real D.C.

TV Draft Round 5 – Pick 8 – Mike -Selects – Mad Men

05 Mad Men

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Mike at https://musiccitymike.net

Mad Men

As was the case with my previous draft pick, Breaking Bad, AMC’s Mad Men was one of the few other shows in recent memory whose brilliance found me watching regularly as it ran every week. Mad Men also undoubtedly holds the record for the show generating the most morning after talk in the office.

If the show is unfamiliar to you, the “Mad” is short for Madison Avenue and the series is a look at the high-pressure world of advertising centered in Manhattan in the 1960s. Pun intended, “mad” is also an apt description of the behavior the “men” in the show exhibit.

In assessing Mad Men’s appeal, there are several reasons for my loving this show. The first no doubt has to do with my age and having lived through its period setting of this historic decade. Visually, through the styles of dress and the décor of both home and office, the show brilliantly captures of the feel of the era. Like another current show that I enjoy, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, I am just captivated by the vibrant imagery that so captures the visuals of the 60s. Perhaps it’s just my long-lost nostalgia for those days?

Although I had yet to join the work force until the late 70s, Mad Men also so accurately depicts the office politics as they were back then. First and foremost were the ways men treated women and the way alcohol was a primal part of the business world back then. It was also a time when it seemed like everyone smoked and without ever getting a mean look, they smoked everywhere.

Front and center was Jon Hamm’s lead role as Don Draper, a man whose behavior was as easily despised as his creativity was admired.  The train wreck of his career from his puzzling self-destructive behavior, fueled by his booze-driven lust for women, was inevitable. You see it coming and wonder when he will hit bottom and whether he will recover.

The rest of the cast is equally appealing, and the ladies really steal the show in terms of presenting the evolution of women through the decade. This was true both at home through the character of Draper’s wife Betty played by January Jones and at work by the sexy but savvy Joan Harris played by Christina Henricks and the naive but otherwise smart, Peggy Olson, played by Elizabeth Moss. Joan struggles and eventually attains success despite having to overcome the beauty nature has given her while Peggy ultimately overcomes the hand she was dealt from her sheltered upbringing.

As for the other guys, John Slattery’s Roger Sterling was akin to Draper in terms of despicability while Vincent Kartheiser’s Pete Campbell faults took the cake due to the massive layer of immaturity that he could never overcome. And what a delight to see Broadway legend Robert Morse come out of hiding with a recurring role and even gift us with a dream sequence musical number!

The top appeal of Mad Men however though may be how actual history gets interwoven into its storylines. It was fun to see notable events and figures pass through as it was for emerging fashions and changing trends. All this also created great viewer anticipation as the years flew by. You knew that sooner or later we’d see JFK, The Beatles, and the space program.

And without spoiling anything, actual advertising history makes its way into one of the greatest endings in TV series history. Mad Men also featured one of the most infectious opening sequences of all time combining slick instrumental music to a clever graphic animation.

Kudos to show creator Matthew Weiner for seven brilliant seasons. Deservedly, Mad Men won 16 Emmys. It’s another show that I look to repeating in its entirety.

TV Draft Round 4 – Pick 1 – Mike Selects – Breaking Bad

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. The remaining 7 rounds will be posted here. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Mike from https://musiccitymike.net

Breaking Bad

Like many other TV bingers these days, there are few, if any, series that I watch in real time. After all, who has the patience to wait a week (or at a season’s end, over the summer) for the next episode to see what happens next in a suspenseful show. However, I did make an exception for the wild escapades of high school chemistry teacher turned methamphetamine maker Walter White on AMC’s Breaking Bad.

Why? Well, the plot was just so unique and more so, its production, especially in terms of camera work, was nothing short of spectacular. The ways that producer Vince Gilligan found to use the camera were ground-breaking. Come on, who would have ever thought of filming from the inside of a refrigerator!

Before I get to the tragic tale of Mr. White, there’s also the music. I don’t think I have ever been so taken by the impact of soundtrack songs like I was in Breaking Bad.  There are two magic moments that come to mind. I still get chills running down my spine when I think of how Tommy James & the Shondells’ “Crystal Blue Persuasion” and Badfinger’s “Baby Blue” were used to such stunning effects. For the unfamiliar, it may help to know that Mr. White’s “product” had a unique-to-meth blue color. And the Badfinger song’s opening line of “Guess I got what I deserve” show appropriately set the show’s final scene. (Kudos also to local Nashville band The Silver Seas for getting their fab song “Catch Yer Own Train” into Season One.)

As with my fave series, The Sopranos, here we go again with White and his former student and now partner-in-crime, Jessie Pinkman, falling into the unavoidable anti-hero role. However, seeing all this suspense and drama from a first-person perspective was the only way to go for Breaking Bad. And how could you not resist rooting for a guy who simply was trying to get some extra money together for his family before he died of cancer.

What really makes the show so habit forming is how what starts out as such a simple innocent way to make a few bucks steamrolls into a monster enterprise attracting a cadre of despicable characters. This includes the metamorphosis of meek Walter into the evil Heisenberg. Even his demure wife gets into the act to help when the couple finds itself with an accumulation of cash larger than most banks. While the show is full of violence galore, it’s these same things that also gives the show more laughs than you’d ever expect in a crime drama. For me, the funniest moment was when screwball meth-head Badger explains how the pizza place they just ordered from passes on the savings by not cutting its slices.

But, Breaking Bad also uses the often employed, but head-scratching literary device of coincidence.  What are the odds that a guy who takes up making meth in Albuquerque, New Mexico would also have a brother-in-law who is the local head of the DEA who heads the task force hunting down the guy behind the new blue meth showing up on the streets! I’ll save the spoilers as to how these two end up.

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, as Walter and Jesse respectively, both put in career-defining roles. And the supporting cast was just as spectacular, including Bob Odinkirk as sleazy lawyer, Saul Goodman, who would wind up with his own spin-off show, Better Call Saul, which is just about to start airing its final season.

I hope that all fans of the show did get to see the enjoyable El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, a Netflix sequel to the show that continues the story of Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman character. And as for the prequal of Better Call Saul, we fans look forward to hopefully seeing White and Pinkman appear on the show as its timeline moves forward and the show runs its course. And on a possible sad note, maybe we will find out why Saul’s lady friend, Kim Wexler, never made it to the Breaking Bad days.

In concluding, let me just say that this show is just so darn good that it is no surprise that in 2013 it entered the Guinness World Records as the most critically acclaimed TV show of all-time. That’s no surprise since how many shows have ever achieved the success of having each episode followed by a live recap and analysis show every week!

TV Draft Round 3 – Pick 2 – Seinfeld

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. The remaining 8 rounds will be posted here. We will have 64 different TV Shows by 8 different writers. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Mike from https://musiccitymike.net

Seinfeld

I must begin by saying that I’m puzzled as to why it took me so long to decide what my next pick in the TV series draft would be. The number of Seinfeld YouTube clips I’ve watched should alone justify making the “show about nothing” my #3 overall pick.

My history with Seinfeld however is odd in that I did not watch a single episode in real time until I viewed the underwhelming series finale at a private corporate event on their then-expensive big screen. By then though I had at least seen some reruns but had yet to become passionate about the show. But not too long after the series ceased, I got hooked by watching many more reruns and running through my Dad’s DVD collection when I visited my folks. Watching Seinfeld soon became highly addictive for several reasons upon which I will elaborate.

Seinfeld ‘s obvious attractions are of course that it is very funny, all the characters are incredible, and like my prior two series picks, it is set mostly in New York City. And to that last point, the show’s brilliant production never once makes you think that it’s all done in a Hollywood studio. It really feels like it’s all happening in the Big Apple.

Remarkably, I have always been fascinated by how timeless Seinfeld is. Despite the lack of cellphones and the presence of Jerry’s dated haircut and his old Macintosh computer visible in the background, the storylines just seem so relevant to whatever decade you are watching them in. Relationship issues, comical character failures and the unabashed selfishness exhibited by the four main characters are things we can all forever relate to and laugh about.

Seinfeld’s impact on popular culture is also unprecedented. For a show that is now more that 20 years expired, there are so many expressions that are now accepted vernacular. Aside from the obvious “Yada Yada” and “No soup for you!”, quite often, personal situations have made me recall and reference old episodes. One recent example dealt with someone who was perpetuating an obvious lie until when like George Costanza, “He finally reached the end of the Hamptons!” Amazing how many people I said this to remembered that car ride ending in a walk when George didn’t admit to his fiancé’s parents that he didn’t have a house in the Hamptons until they all reached the Atlantic Ocean.

Each Seinfeld episode typically had three or four concurrent storylines and we often forget the classics that intersected with one another.  One was when the injured squirrel, for whom George paid for surgery to impress a girlfriend, got snatched away by a hawk during Kramer’s mock Merv Griffin Show. (After he found the old TV show set props in the trash bin.) On the same “show,” Jerry also was outed for drugging his girlfriend so that he could play with her rare vintage toy collection.

Being a baseball fan, having George work for the Yankees and seeing some real-life Yankees and Mets playing themselves on the show was something special. In fact, if I had to pick my favorite episode, it would be the one in which George suggested the Yankees wear cotton uniforms since cotton fabric breathes. Then came the problem when the non-polyester uniforms shrank making play difficult. This was also another great multiple story line show in which the gang watches the hapless Yanks from an Atlantic City hotel room where Jerry also accidently drowns the trained doves from Miss Rhode Island’s talent act. (Kramer was coaching Jerry’s girlfriend for the pageant.)

Writing about this show makes me want to watch it right now. It also makes me ponder where did Kramer get the money to live on and how many girlfriends did Jerry have? It’s hard to imagine what life would be like without the ability to go back and visit Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer on a regular basis.

Finally, while there never was an official Seinfeld reunion show, there was a short segment on Seinfeld co-creator Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm where we did see the show’s main four characters in the future. Here’s a look at those snippets all combined in a clever update that makes you long for some more new Seinfeld. Maybe someday.

TV Draft Recap Rounds 1 & 2

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. The remaining 8 rounds will be posted here. We will have 64 different TV Shows by 8 different writers. I hope you will enjoy it! 

This is a recap of rounds one and two that were held earlier. Hope you will join us on April 11, 2022… Monday at 9am CST to kick it off. 

Round 1TV ShowWho PostedHome Site
1.Doctor WhoVichttps://cosmic-observation.com/blog-posts/
2.The Sopranos Mikehttps://musiccitymike.net
3.Bozo’s Circus Johnhttps://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
4.Barney MillerMaxhttps://powerpop.blog
5.The WireKirkhttps://slicethelife.com/
6.Police SquadKeithhttps://nostalgicitalian.com/
7.Only Murders in the Building (OMITB)Paulahttp://paulalight.com
Round 2
1.The Odd CoupleMikehttps://musiccitymike.net
2.Cartoon TownJohnhttps://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
3.Fawlty TowersMaxhttps://powerpop.blog
4.Rockford FilesKirkhttps://slicethelife.com/
5.Mission ImpossibleKeithhttps://nostalgicitalian.com/
6.FireflyVichttps://cosmic-observation.com/blog-posts/