Starting with the good – “American Masters: No Direction Home”
The elusive Bob Dylan is almost like a member of a different species than human – no one has ever truly understood him. Well, no one outside his close circle of family and friends. Certainly not his fans, who have called him everything from protest singer to Christ figure… labels that chafed up against his psyche again and again, forcing him to evolve beyond them. Because he’s been so difficult to pin down, he remains an endlessly fascinating figure to young and old (though mostly old) alike.
Dylan is one of those people whose breathtaking talent cannot be explained away – it was just there, probably from day one. Getting closer than anyone ever has is none other than the equally gifted (and equally misunderstood) director Martin Scorsese whose two part documentary, “No Direction Home,” comes to PBS’ “American Masters” series on September 26 and 27 at 9 p.m.
The documentary, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival this past month, is one of those television events that come along every once in a while and end up justifying the whole point of having television in the first place.
Scorsese singles out those years between 1961 through 1966, and includes rare, unseen performance footage and interviews with people who knew Dylan back in the day when he was the skinny wunderkind haunting Greenwich Village. Leave it to Scorsese to pry open the Bob Dylan archives in order to access the virgin collection of film, tape, and stills.
Although they never worked directly together, both cut their teeth on the mean streets of New York, both are trailblazers, and both have been embedded in rock and roll for decades. Scorcese directed The Last Waltz, the concert film to end all concert films about The Band’s final tour with Dylan as the special guest. Who can forget the way Scorsese introduces him – a tracking shot from the ceiling down, first showing Dylan’s hat.
Anyone not willing to pony up the dough for the DVD release of the film can watch it on PBS for free. All hail PBS.
The Bad – They Cancelled “The Comeback”
How could they do it? I suppose they would say, “How could we not do it?” As the lead character Valerie Cherish well knows, ratings are everything. “The Comeback” never had healthy numbers, and the season finale drew the show’s lowest ever audience. Interestingly, out here in the real world, people slowly warmed up to it and talked about it more and more. One more season and it would have caught on. In the role of Cherish, Lisa Kudrow was doing the best acting on television, only no one knew it because no one was watching. Shame on HBO for not keeping this wonderful comedy afloat. Now we’ll never know how it all ends up.
The Ugly – The Emmys
What a disappointment Sunday’s Emmys were for anyone who gives a hoot. The evening’s crowning disappointment was “Everybody Loves Raymond” winning in its final season and beating out “Desperate Housewives.” Emmy voters must be five people who sit in a room watching not only the same show over and over again but the same episode of their favorite show – how do you explain their giving out the same award year after year to the same person? Doris Roberts winning her fourth supporting actress nod? Did they just do that to make home viewers angry or what? Don’t they care if we are disgusted by their refusal to accept change? We know they don’t care. Moreover, the ratings were their highest in three years, which Emmy voters will misinterpret, no doubt, as a confirmation that they are giving the people what the people want. In fact, the high ratings can be explained in two words: “Desperate Housewives.” Now that “Everybody Loves Raymond” is finally out of the Emmy race it will force voters to watch other, funnier programs. Thank god for small favors.
Full list of winners:
Drama Series: “Lost,” ABC.
Comedy Series: “Everybody Loves Raymond,” CBS.
Miniseries: “The Lost Prince” (Masterpiece Theatre), PBS.
Variety, Music or Comedy Series: “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” Comedy Central.
Made-for-TV Movie: “Warm Springs,” HBO.
Reality-Competition Program: “The Amazing Race,” CBS.
Actor, Drama Series: James Spader, “Boston Legal,” ABC.
Actor, Comedy Series: Tony Shalhoub, “Monk,” USA.
Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Geoffrey Rush, “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers,” HBO.
Actress, Drama Series: Patricia Arquette, “Medium,” NBC.
Actress, Comedy Series: Felicity Huffman, “Desperate Housewives,” ABC.
Actress, Miniseries or Movie: S. Epatha Merkerson, “Lackawanna Blues,” HBO.
Supporting Actor, Drama Series: William Shatner, “Boston Legal,” ABC.
Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: Brad Garrett, “Everybody Loves Raymond,” CBS.
Supporting Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Paul Newman, “Empire Falls,” HBO.
Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Blythe Danner, “Huff,” Showtime.
Supporting Actress, Comedy Series: Doris Roberts, “Everybody Loves Raymond,” CBS.
Supporting Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Jane Alexander, “Warm Springs,” HBO.
Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program: Hugh Jackman, “The 58th Annual Tony Awards (2004),” CBS.
Directing for a Drama Series: “Lost: Pilot (Part 1 & 2),” ABC.
Directing for a Comedy Series: “Desperate Housewives: Pilot,” ABC.
Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special: “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers,” HBO.
Directing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program: “The Games of the XXVIII Olympiad – Opening Ceremony,” NBC.
Writing for a Drama Series: “House: Three Stories,” Fox.
Writing for a Comedy Series: “Arrested Development: The Righteous Brothers,” Fox.
Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special: “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers,” HBO.
Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program: “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” Comedy Central.
Notable TV This Week
Thursday, September 22
Mommy Dearest (***), 8 p.m., OXYGEN.
CSI, season opener, yeehaw! 9 p.m., CBS.
ER, season opener, 10 p.m., NBC.
Soundstage: Lindsey Buckingham and special guest, Stevie Nicks, 10 p.m., KCET.
Friday, September 23
Fargo (****), 8 p.m., IFC.
Ghost Whisperer debuts, 8 p.m., CBS.
Threshold debuts, 9 p.m., CBS.
Inconceivable, drama based around a fertility clinic, 10 p.m., NBC.
Saturday, September 24
Catch Me if You Can (**), 8 p.m., ABC.
Clear and Present Danger (***), 8 p.m., AMC.
Good Will Hunting (**), 8 p.m., BRAVO.
Fine Cut: A Festival of Student Film, 9 p.m., KCET.
Sunday, September 25
Martha Behind Bars, bringing back the delightful Cybill Shepard, 9 p.m., CBS.
Law and Order: Criminal Intent, season opener, 9 p.m., NBC.
West Wing, season opener, 8 p.m. NBC
Mystery! Foyle’s War, 9 p.m., KCET.
Desperate Housewives, they’re back, 9 p.m., ABC.
Monday, September 26
Apollo 13 (***), 8 p.m., BRAVO.
American Masters: No Direction Home, Part 1 of two, the brilliant new documentary by Martin Scorsese on the life of Bob Dylan, not to be missed, 9 p.m., KCET.
Medium, new episode, 10 p.m., NBC.
Tuesday, September 27
Amazing Race: Family Edition, new season begins, 9 p.m., CBS.
American Masters: No Direction Home concludes, 9 p.m., KCET.
Commander-in-Chief, new series with Geena Davis as the president, 9 p.m., ABC.
Boston Legal is back, 10 p.m., ABC.
Garbo. Turner Classic Movies’ month-long tribute to the legend winds up with some of her best films – Anna Karenina, Camille, Ninotchka, Conquest and Two-faced Woman, as well as a reprise of TCM’s new documentary, Garbo, 5 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. TCM
Wednesday, September 28
Get Up, Stand Up: The Story of Pop and Protest, 8 p.m., KCET.
Criminal Minds, series debut, 9 p.m., CBS.
Lost, 9 p.m., ABC.
Invasion, 10 p.m., ABC.