"COKE, the pause that refreshes!"
That was the famous advertising line for Coca-Cola back in the day.
'Breaking Bad,' the show that never disappoints!" (I think this is appropriate; both Coca-Cola and "Breaking Bad" are American classics.)
On Sunday night, the first of the final eight episodes of the acclaimed AMC series premiered. It was, of course, brilliant. Rarely has a series not only maintained its quality through a run of six seasons but actually improved upon its original concept, and enriched each and every character.
My admiration for star Bryan Cranston has already been noted -- many times. But I want to take some space to praise his co-stars who have morphed, for good or evil, (mostly the latter) as their characters have had to deal with Walter White, chemist-turned-meth-king-and-killer.
In particular, Anna Gunn as his wife, Skyler, who is either loved or loathed by hordes of "BB" fans, Aaron Paul as Jesse, Walter's partner in meth-making and the only character on the show who seems to have a conscience, and Dean Norris as Walter's brother-in-law, Hank. (Hank's realization of who and what Walter was, in last season's finale gave us a stunning bit of performing; driving his car into a tree, hyperventilating with shock and rage.)
For all my enthusiasm for "Breaking Bad," I won't be sorry when it ends. The producers and writers are doing it correctly, going out at everybody's peak of creativity and enthusiasm.
I didn't bother to watch the new AMC show that followed "Breaking Bad" on Sunday. Maybe it's good. But as it happens with meth -- the high is incredible, the crash horrific. I didn't want to crash after "BB." (No, I've never tried meth. It's just an analogy. But as with irony, I find it is not always understood.)
MORE TV: Still finding it difficult to wrap myself up in "The Newsroom." The situations, dialogue and the manner in which almost everybody is required to deliver their lines -- fast, smart-assed-Aaron-Sorkin speak -- remains off-putting. Maybe you're not supposed to take it seriously, at all? There are terrific performances, but so far, other than my hero Jeff Daniels, only Olivia Munn has really captured my attention, even if Sunday night's bit with Munn physically beating down a guy who betrayed her was unrealistic, if terrifically satisfying.
A WELCOME return to the pages of Playboy -- after a 20-year absence -- is Glenn Plaskin. He does a Q&A with motivational mogul Tony Robbins. Tony reveals his thoughts on celebrities like Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, President Obama and even Princess Diana. Robbins says the reason people don't succeed is that they don't "find a mission greater than themselves. Most people major in minor things. They know more about Lindsay Lohan or the Kardashians than about their emotional lives ... they travel through life with less than they deserve and come up with a story about why."
Glenn Plaskin interviewed a host of the famous during his original Playboy tenure -- Donald Trump, Calvin Klein, Leona Helmsley -- and many more, for other magazines. He has written books, too, including his acclaimed biography on Vladimir Horowitz and "Turning Point: Pivotal Moments in the Lives of America's Celebrities." His latest is "Katie Up and Down the Hall," about his dog!
"Elysium" is not the best what-happens-when-civilization-as-we-know-it-ends movie I've ever seen. And Matt Damon, for all his talent, is not especially well-suited for this sort of thing. But the movie is entertaining enough, though it is not nearly the ground-breaking effort that director Neill Blomkamp's great "District 9" was. Of course, we get plenty of not-so-thinly-veiled politics, just as there was in "District 9."
The real attraction of "Elysium" is Jodie Foster, whose job it is to keep illegals, undesirables and the poor from trying to get to Elysium; those people can just stay on a shattered earth. She is unredeemably hard and cold to the core. She looks great. It's fun to see her this way. Her accent is a little odd, but hell, it's science fiction.
My big complaint? The shaky hand-held camera. Enough already with this!
I HAVE already mentioned that, in the new Architectural Digest, so many of the beautiful dwellings were owned by same-sex couples.
But here in my office, my guy Denis Ferrara piped up to say that if you want to find real diversity and acceptance of same-sex couples, one need look no further than HGTV. The network boasts such shows as "Love It or List It," "House Hunters" and "Property Brothers."
"For years this network has casually, with no fanfare, featured same sex-couples looking to remodel, move or otherwise do something clever with environments," Denis said. "Just regular folks, with regular homes, pets and lives. Now, this is something the often easily offended, politically correct people at GLAAD should be honoring. Not wealthy newsmen who have finally decided to come out, not silly sitcoms; all the while peppering the audience with cast members from 'The Jersey Shore' or anybody else vaguely newsworthy. I threw a celebratory party when 'Will & Grace' finally went off the air. Ditto for 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy' -- an insult to gays and straights alike."
Denis went on: "And heaven forbid anybody at these gala events brings up the subject of AIDS, which is still making its deadly way around the world and has seen an alarming spike in infections here in the United States. It's all, 'Oh, if we get it, we'll just take a few pills.' Elizabeth Taylor once posed on the cover of Vanity Fair holding a condom, and for as long as she lived, she stressed the importance of safe sex. Was that for nothing? Did all of those thousands die in the 1980s and '90s for nothing? So that a new generation could be so cavalier and careless?"
Mr. Ferrara can work himself into a fine lather. He is usually right!
(Email Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)