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The Wonder Years (1988)
Ending up where it all first began
A show that ended where it all first began, The Wonder Years finished where it first started, back in that small town with Kevin (words can't even begin to describe), Winnie (soon off to Paris and as breath-taking as ever), Jack (who we learn came to pass in the next two years), Norma (with her new-found success as a business woman), Wayne (who would have thought the guy would have turned out the way he did?), Karen (pregnant as ever), and Paul (the same old Paul we've come to know and love). The final episode still to this day comes to almost bring me to tears, even now as an adult. Just thinking about the way things turned out; how Kevin and Winnie ended up separate from one another; how Jack, superman as far as I am concerned, turned his life around and finally achieved true happiness only to come to pass away after only a couple more years; how Norma, the sweetest and most caring mom of all-time made things work for her both in the home as she always had, but now also out in the real world (although I can't imagine how she made along after Jack passed and conversely just how he would have handled losing her if the situation were reversed); how troubled-Wayne transformed himself into an entirely different and better person as he matured and went to work for his dad (the influence Jack had on him late in life undoubtedly made all the difference for Wayne); how Karen came back into the picture with a new baby boy on the way and truly happy as she deserved to be; and Paul, or as I like to call him, "Mr. Do-No-Wrong" and how his consistency throughout the entirety of the series remained a constant (and I love Paul and I'm so proud of him for getting accepted into Harvard and going into law); just thinking about all of these great people and how things turned out for them, though it seems collectively that they achieved happiness, it is also bittersweet. When I think about the possibility of Kevin and Winnie not ending up together, it just makes me sad. Winnie is so perfect in so many ways, in fact, in my life, I measure the girls pursue by her. And just the way Kevin treated her and acted when he was around her and was so happy to be with her, he just deserved her. But I guess that life doesn't always work out the way it's supposed to. And Jack, THE stand-up guy among stand-up guys, to think that he so convincingly and successfully transitioned from his go-nowhere position at Norcom (that by the way was killing him, and probably was the cause of his ultimate death when it came down to it) to owning his own hand-made furniture business, just to die two years later, the thought brings with it so much sorrow. He's the type of dad I sometimes wish I had (and in some ways I do have this type of dad, but it some ways I also do not). I know that to some he seems rough around the edges, but just look at his situation. He's a Korean-war-veteran, he has an incredibly demanding job (for much of his life anyway), he has bills to worry about, he has a daughter who makes spontaneous decisions that affect the entire family (with much of the strain landing directly onto him as the father), a son in Wayne who really up until his early 20's has no direction in life, and Kevin, who brings with him both the good and the bad when it concerns his father. And even with all of this, under it all, he is a truly loving father, a dedicated husband, an incredibly hard-worker, and really truly a great man over all. His life, in my opinion, emulates the life of a true success story, even though it was cut so short. And Norma, oh god, who could ever forget about Norma? Let's not forget the fact that she is drop-dead gorgeous, but besides that, as far as personality is concerned, she's probably the sweetest thing I've ever laid my eyes on. She's such a loving mother and wife and homemaker, but in addition to all this, as we learn from her success, she's also competent when it comes to business matters as well. But this is really getting away from what she is all about at least as far as the show is concerned. Truly, she is an extraordinary family woman and quite frankly, I can't think of a better mother in the history of television or even real life for that matter.
I love this show and all the characters associated with it. I grew up watching the show and still to this day, almost 15 years after having viewed its content for one first full run, I still love it with the same passion I did as a child. I love it more than I can describe for all of the reasons I have mentioned above and also for more, ones I can't even describe because I am so infatuated with it. Watch it. See how the characters progress. See how they learn. See how they make each better people while they interact with one another. Witness their transformations. Witness their growth. Learn how they all come to be and how they all come to end.
It's a wild ride and it's one that I intend to take many more times in this life and while I'm still able. Be well everyone.
P.S. I love you, Winnie Cooper.
The Terminal (2004)
I liked it
A typical Spielberg-like film with that special feeling that a good portion of the man's projects have possessed as of late. Tom Hanks' involvement was crucial. He's a very talented actor - that's no secret. I always liked him as a person and an actor, but it took this role for me to really recognize and fully appreciate his immense talents. Plus, I watched him on Conan O'Brien promoting the movie and he was fantastic.
To add, it was a very clever film with several different likable characters. Definitely a good one to watch.
- - -
With a full season now out of the way, as a whole, I am definitely impressed with what I've seen over the last 8 weeks. I like all five of the main characters and believe all the actors to have done a good job at portraying these guys. A special nod, of course, goes out to Piven for what he's done with Ari and the same for Kevin Dillon as Drama. I realize a lot of people don't buy Grenier as 'Vinny' (to quote Ari), but I think he plays him well. Same with Ferrara as Turtle. This guy may act like a loud-mouth goof ball most of the time he's in front of the camera, but I definitely see Queens coming from him. And then there's Eric, the "cynic" of the group. He may be cynical, but he's also very practical and seems to be the sole reason that things haven't fallen apart up at the mansion. He keeps them all in line and makes the decisions for Vince. A very cool character indeed.
Doug Ellin, a guy I had never heard of before this show came on, along with Larry Charles, formally of Seinfeld, both write the lights out in this one and deserve much of the credit for its ability to appeal. I will admit that during the early trailers I was bit skeptical, but am now a definite fan. Good writing equals greater success.
The Sopranos (1999)
HBO's "The Sopranos" -Still better than all the rest
Not only do the storylines in "The Sopranos" engage audiences from all over, but I think (for me at least) what brings the viewers back is the acting. (Not even you, Gary, can dispute that claim) James Gandolfini, who plays the lead-man, Tony Soprano, has become (in this viewer's opinion) one of the "Hollywood Elites" as far as acting in a television series goes. I wouldn't go ahead and compare him with Robert DeNiro or Al Pacino, or at least, not just yet. He, however, does do a hell of a job playing the part of Tony Soprano. In the years since 1999, Gandolfini has risen so much so as an actor (mainly thanks to his role in The Sopranos) that today he is considered to be among the best in the business. And it's not just him. "The Sopranos" fields a great supporting cast including that of Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli, Dominic Chianese, and the late Nancy Marchand who played Tony's dreadful mother. At this point in the show's existence, it's being considered a cult-classic and rightfully so. The first two seasons were extraordinary. Violent and quite gruesome in a pretty frequent manner, but without a doubt, extraordinarily done. The third season was great, but didn't quite live up to the hype of seasons 1 and 2. Season 4, which wrapped up right before new-years, was the weakest season yet (or at least, in my opinion it was). Despite a dry-spell, I still found it (season 4 of "The Sopranos") to be more entertaining than most of its competition and that's saying a lot because lately I've been noticing a trend in good new television shows. Examples of this: Six Feet Under, The Shield, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and OZ (which is not technically a new show but ended with an unforgettable final season this year). To get back to my point though, to consider a show better than all the competition during a particularly bad year, no less, is quite an accomplishment on the part of the writers. "The Sopranos" ranks above and beyond all other television shows in its era and its writers deserve a lot of credit. To close, I'd like to say, "The Sopranos" is the real deal folks. For the average mature viewer (17 and above) who enjoys drama and doesn't mind a mixing of a little violence and profanity, you might want to check out "The Sopranos" if you get the chance. Trust me in that it will be well worth the time.