Foyle’s War: Great TV

Foyle’s War combines history and mystery in a mix that is entertaining and educational. I highly recommend it, especially since excellent movies have become scarce. We record it on the DVR from PBS and watch it instead of going out to a movie. I wish they could produce more than four episodes per year!

Here’s an overview from Wikipedia:

The programme is set during the Second World War in Hastings, England, where Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) attempts to catch criminals who are taking advantage of the confusion the war has created. He is assisted by his driver Samantha "Sam" Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks) and Detective Sergeant Paul Milner (Anthony Howell).

Foyle, a widower, is quiet, methodical and very observant and is frequently underestimated by his foes. Many of his cases concern profiteering, the black market and murder. Foyle often comes up against high-ranking officials in the British military or intelligence services who would prefer that he mind his own business but he is tenacious in seeking justice.

The stories are largely self-contained. There are some running strands, mainly involving the career of Foyle’s son Andrew (played by Julian Ovenden), a fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force, or Foyle’s continuing relationships with cameo characters.

Here’s the description of the latest series, shown in the US in the Mystery! slot on PBS.

Foyle’s War, Series IV      TV PG
Airing Sundays, June 17 through July 8, 2007 on PBS
(Check local listings; dates and times may vary)

Foyle’s War returns to Mystery! with the admirable Michael Kitchen in his usual top form…
— The Wall Street Journal

Mystery! presents four new episodes of one of its most acclaimed detective series. Set along the South Coast of England in the 1940s, Foyle’s War stars Michael Kitchen (Reckless, Oliver Twist) as the no-nonsense Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle, the straightforward sleuth who fights his own battles on the homefront while war rages across Europe.

Series IV finds Foyle and his team tackling a brutal death on an American Army base, uncovering secret government research after a biological warfare experiment goes awry, investigating the murder of Sgt. Milner’s estranged wife, and probing the clandestine world of weapons development.

The Closer: Good TV

I’m glad to see The Closer get good ratings. I recorded every episode on our DVR and watched them at convenient times. The show is a lot like CSI without the blood and guts. The plots have been outstanding — I hope they can maintain the quality.

Link: Welcome to AJC! |

Success of ‘Closer’ big boost for TNT
Scott Leith – Staff
Saturday, September 10, 2005
The Southern accent that actress Kyra Sedgwick poured on like gravy during her TV cop drama "The Closer" sounded awfully good to the folks at TNT.

When the Sedgwick-led summer series drawled to a close Monday night, TNT celebrated the end of its first legitimate hit with an original series. It was a victory for rerun-heavy, Atlanta-based TNT, which dropped out of the tricky original series game in 2002 to take time to burnish the network’s once-murky identity and to develop a formula for creating its own shows.

Among the tricks that drew an average of 5.45 million viewers during the June 13 to Sept. 5 run of "The Closer" was the deliberate tailoring of the show to appeal to the loyal audience that watches "Law & Order" repeats on TNT.

formulating its ideas for what became "The Closer," TNT pursued the idea of creating a series to emulate "Law & Order." In the TV trade, that program is known as a "procedural drama," because it follows how cops and lawyers do their jobs.

In 2004, TNT went shopping for the right kind of show. "The Closer" was born out of a meeting in Burbank, Calif., with Greer Shephard, Michael Robin and James Duff, executive producers of the series.

Duff, who also wrote the series, said TNT’s approach was unique because the network wanted a specific kind of drama, making it easier to plan and write. Duff and his colleagues mulled ideas as they walked out of their meeting with TNT and quickly settled on their notions for "The Closer."

"By the time we got to our cars, we had figured out what to do," Duff said.

TNT ordered a pilot, along with pilots for three other potential series. On Dec. 10, 2004, a group of 25 people, including top Turner Broadcasting System insiders, watched "The Closer" inside a big room within the company’s campus in Midtown Atlanta. The initial episode was a hit with the Turner brass, and so was one for "Wanted." With that, the two series went into production, joining the already approved "Into the West."

Koonin said the network spent $100 million on production costs alone for the programs, mostly for the lavish "Into the West."

From the start, Duff felt good about the prospects for "The Closer." Signing Sedgwick, a respected but not widely known actress, was a promising sign. She has appeared in a number of small but well-received films, including "The Woodsman," which starred her husband, Kevin Bacon.

In a nod to TNT’s hometown, Duff made Sedgwick’s character a native of Atlanta. He defined her with a Southern drawl, coupled with smarts and toughness, partly to take a jab at regional stereotypes.

"I wanted the person with the Southern accent to be the smartest person in the room," said Duff, a native Texan whose mother was raised in Mississippi.

"The Closer," which will return for another season next year, could change the perception of TNT to some extent. Koonin said a hit original series makes viewers think of a network as a destination, not just something to sample on occasion.

Is Bill O’Reilly on Fox News really Fair and Balanced?

As I learn more about Bill O’Reilly’s intimidation of guests who disagree with him and his subsequent distortion of what actually happened, I see evidence of a self-righteous runaway ego. Why does fame grossly inflate self-importance so often?

Lawrence Lessig blogged a letter to O’Reilly about his treatment of a guest he interviewed .

You have declared a “war” on the New York Times. That’s good for you, good for them, and good for our democracy: Strong opinions deserve strong spokesmen. Your battle will help sharpen a debate about matters important to the Republic.

But in waging this “war,” you are continuing to abuse a man whom you have wronged, and to whom you owe an apology.

On February 4, 2003, Jeremy Glick was your guest on THE FACTOR. Glick had lost his father in the attack of 9/11. He had also signed an ad criticizing the war in Iraq. You were “surprised” that one who had lost his father could oppose that war. And so you had him on your show, presumably to ask him why. (Here’s a clip from Outfoxed putting this story together.)

You might not remember precisely what you said on that interview, or more importantly, what Jeremy Glick said. So here’s a copy that you can watch. Nor may you remember precisely what the ad that Jeremy Glick signed said. Here’s a copy that you can read. And when you’ve watched what was actually said, and read what was actually written, I’m sure you will see that the statements you continue to make about Jeremy Glick are just plain false. Not Bill Clinton “depends upon what is is” false, but false the way most Americans learned growing up: just not true.

Click on the link below if you would like clips of the interview.

Mr. O’Reilly, please just stop

Ted Turner’s Beef With Big Media

The always interesting Ted Turner says local programming, new ideas, and innovation suffer when small media companies are swallowed by giants or driven out of business.

Today, media companies are more concentrated than at any time over the past 40 years, thanks to a continual loosening of ownership rules by Washington. The media giants now own not only broadcast networks and local stations; they also own the cable companies that pipe in the signals of their competitors and the studios that produce most of the programming. To get a flavor of how consolidated the industry has become, consider this: In 1990, the major broadcast networks–ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox–fully or partially owned just 12.5 percent of the new series they aired. By 2000, it was 56.3 percent. Just two years later, it had surged to 77.5 percent.

In this environment, most independent media firms either get gobbled up by one of the big companies or driven out of business altogether. Yet instead of balancing the rules to give independent broadcasters a fair chance in the market, Washington continues to tilt the playing field to favor the biggest players. Last summer, the FCC passed another round of sweeping pro-consolidation rules that, among other things, further raised the cap on the number of TV stations a company can own.

In the media, as in any industry, big corporations play a vital role, but so do small, emerging ones. When you lose small businesses, you lose big ideas. People who own their own businesses are their own bosses. They are independent thinkers. They know they can’t compete by imitating the big guys–they have to innovate, so they’re less obsessed with earnings than they are with ideas. They are quicker to seize on new technologies and new product ideas. They steal market share from the big companies, spurring them to adopt new approaches. This process promotes competition, which leads to higher product and service quality, more jobs, and greater wealth. It’s called capitalism.

But without the proper rules, healthy capitalist markets turn into sluggish oligopolies, and that is what’s happening in media today. Large corporations are more profit-focused and risk-averse. They often kill local programming because it’s expensive, and they push national programming because it’s cheap–even if their decisions run counter to local interests and community values. Their managers are more averse to innovation because they’re afraid of being fired for an idea that fails. They prefer to sit on the sidelines, waiting to buy the businesses of the risk-takers who succeed.

“My Beef With Big Media” by Ted Turner

via Dan Gillmor

Keen Eddie on Bravo

Keen Eddie is a great show if you like detective stories and British humor. Eddie’s sexy, outrageous roommate and his bull terrier who watches TV with the roommate’s cat keep this show from being just another detective mystery. Highly recommended.

Upcoming episodes:


Ann’s garden on cover of ‘Home & Garden’ section, Atlanta Journal Constitution (Aug 21, 2003)

Ann’s garden was pictured on the cover of the ‘Home & Garden‘ section of Atlanta Journal Constitution (Aug 21, 2003) .

The accompanying article included pictures from several gardens and interviews with several gardeners. While the ‘Home & Garden’ section included a number of great photos from Ann’s garden, the online version only had two photos (one in the link above and this one).

If you can’t click on the links above, here are the urls.