Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Notes on Pop Culture: 'Eclipse' Rises, Turning on the Lights on FNL and Tales from a 'Breaking Bad' Virgin

Eclipse: Better Than the First Two Twilight Flicks

I went to see Eclipse on opening weekend and am happy to report – even though it might diminish my credibility with some literary/film school/independent flick types – that I enjoyed it, thought it was much better than New Moon and more light-hearted in places, not taking itself TOO seriously.

My pop culture column over on Mommy Tracked this week also points out that, despite the fact that the movie (like the book series) has all these super-strong werewolves and vampires protecting the fragile human Bella Swan from violence and possible death -- at times even being held her involuntarily hostage in order to keep her “safe” -- Bella’s no slouch when it comes to protecting those she loves either, that’s when she’s not pining or pondering becoming a teenage bride.

Friday Night Lights: The Lights in Carroll Park

Being a teenager is damned hard, at least in Dillon, Texas, at least for the likes of Becky, who’s 16 and pregnant, and for Vince, who can’t find a job because he’s been arrested and has been trying as hard as he can not to fall in with the gang and the violence that threatens to envelope him.

While Vince, whose mother's drug problems make her AWOL as a parent, had Coach Taylor there to help him get a job – at Ray’s BBQ where Virgil offered to hire him as long as he kept himself out of trouble, 16-year-old Becky, herself the child of a teenage mother who's largely absent while tending bar, had no one to advise her after she got knocked up from a one-night-stand with Luke Cafferty. Though Luke has spoken with her and offered help, she’s leaning toward an abortion, though she’s still on the fence and in serious need of guidance. And seeking out Tim Riggins’ counsel – the same guy who’s working at an illegal chop shop after hours – doesn’t seem like the best move.

Meanwhile, while Eric Taylor was looking for Tinker to find out why he’s missed practice, Eric witnessed the aftermath of a shooting of a 12-year-old in Carroll Park, which made him realize that for some of his players who live in the area just getting to football practice unscathed, never mind escaping the reach of violence that plagues that area, is a constant challenge. Ever the optimist, Eric wanted to try to do something about it, but he went about it in his typically awkward Eric kind of way. No politician he.

Eric needed Buddy’s help – again -- just like he needed him to help rustle up the support of the East Dillon football alums for a Homecoming event earlier this season. With Buddy’s assistance, Eric met with a community organizer, who had credibility with some of the youth in the area, and they arranged not only to get the lights turned on in the troubled park, but to bring the community together with a pick-up football game between neighborhood players and the East Dillon Lions.

The best moment of the episode: Eric playing wry with Tami when he informed her that he was disgusted by the notion that, by the mere fact that Glenn had kissed Tami, Eric was one degree away from kissing Glenn. (When Glenn apologized to Eric, who knew nothing of the drunken kiss, loved, just loved Eric’s surprised, restrained rage look.)

Finally Saw Breaking Bad’s Freshman Season

The web site to which I contribute blog items about TV – CliqueClack TV – has this regular feature called, “The Virgin Diaries.” The writers who contribute to the site pick a show that has already aired that they, personally, have never seen before, watch it and chronicle their reactions. Fans who’ve already watched those seasons of the show get to re-live it through fresh eyes, remembering what it was like to learn a certain fact or see a new character for the first time.

My first “Virgin Diary” entry was posted today about AMC’s Breaking Bad starring Bryan Cranston. I just finished the first season – it was only seven episodes long -- over the weekend and wrote about how the star, Bryan Cranston surprised me by absolutely making me forget that he ever knew anyone named Malcolm or ever once donned roller skates and did a routine to the song Funkytown.

Image credit: AMC.

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