Did you watch three straight hours of HBO last night? Or did you leave off "Baghdad ER" on the theory that there's something wrong with witnessing real bodily pain and then enjoying "The Sopranos"? Or did you only watch "Baghdad ER" because of that? I saw there was a problem with the line up, but still watched all three.
I think "Baghdad ER" was a good documentary. Is it an anti-war documentary? Several times, amid the carnage, a doctor or nurse says the violence is senseless, but there is no political context to this. We can't tell whether they are saying the continuing acts of enemy violence are senseless or whether the whole project of overthrowing Saddam Hussein made no sense. Basically, this program shows you the reality of what the wounds are and how doctors go about doing their work. This is something that you should not look away from whether you oppose the war or support it. Watching this film involves seeing a leg sawed off, an amputated hand thrown in the trash, a hole in an eyeball sewn closed, and many similarly gruesome things. With perhaps only one exception, the medical personnel are not cynical and weary. It's not like "MASH." They are impressively professional and rational about accomplishing what they need to do. Seeing clearly what that is lets us honor their heroism.
Now, I feel it's crass to go on to write about "The Sopranos" and "Big Love." But this illustrates the dissonance anyone would have felt if they sat down to the three hours HBO offered up last night.
"The Sopranos." Was Edie Falco's trip to Paris gratuitous enough for you? See gazes upon picturesque sights and feels transformed. It's the old contrast between her interest in higher things -- remember religion? -- and the ugly, evil world she likes to indulge herself by thinking she's not connected to. But why Paris? Sarah Jessica Parker went to Paris in the end of "Sex and the City," so why is HBO dishing up the woman-goes-to-Paris plot again? In Paris, you can really put your thoughts in order? Why would that be? I'm thinking the HBO folks just like to do some filming in Paris. Especially after all that New Jersey, that relentless, endless New Jersey. The "Sex and the City" people got to film in New York and they got to go to Paris. It's only fair that the New Jersey-afflicted crew of "The Sopranos" gets to go to Paris. But it wasn't all Carmela gaping at statues. (Oh, you want an Emmy for that too?) It was Tony getting the finger (from AJ). And Vito getting the pool cue. And that other guy getting the knife in the gut.
"Big Love." Margene spends most of the episode rototilling the dirt backyard, laying down slabs of sod, and keeling over, while Barb and Nicki natter over problems. Margene is the family slave. But all three of the women fuss over their wills. Who should get your children if Bill and you die? The wives all have different opinions. Once Bill dies, there's no ongoing polygamy: the surviving wives will no longer be "living the principle." So do you want one of the un-principle-living wives to have your children? Or do you ship them back to the compound? Meanwhile, we wonder whether 15-year-old Rhonda will wake up to reality and resist getting sealed to the Prophet. She thinks she's so superior, but then she didn't make it to the second round of that acting competition. One of the most amusing scenes had Rhonda saying some lines that turned out to be from "A Long Day's Journey Into Night." Her long journey into night is only beginning, so what could she know of the torment of the character she imagined she could play?