episode 3

If you’d never seen “”The Book of Daniel”, but had heard all of the controversy and found your way to tonight’s show, I think you would have had a hard time figuring out what all the fuss was about.

By my lights, there was nothing objectionable about anything Jesus said tonight.

I didn’t think Daniel’s sermon was literature, but if you accept that it takes place within the context of the show, and is meant as commentary on some of the plots in motion, I thought it was actually pretty good. By which I mean that I thought it was what Daniel’s wife Judith needed to hear to help her keep loving her mother, and it was what the dueling Warwicks needed to hear to help set up the resolution of their problem.

As for the general morality of the Websters’, let’s note that Daniel’s wife was willing to humiliate herself in front of her mother in a failed attempt to get the deed to the house, so she could then mortgage the house to help Daniel build a school. Put this in the balance with too many martinis, and get back to me. (But only after you’ve mortgaged your house to build a school.)

And yes, we’ve established that 16-year-old Adam has to learn to control his sexual impulses, but I think it is pretty clear at this point that his relationship with–I forget her name–is about more than sex.

Which reminds me, I have heard an earful from folks who proclaim themselves too Christian to soil themselves with this program–or with the Episcopal Church–about Adam’s sexual activity. (And lots about the fact that the oldest Webster child is gay.) But none of those folks have said a word–really, not a single word from a single poster–about the racism of his girlfriend’s parents. Let’s weigh Adam’s sin against that of the parents. Is A so much more egregious than B that B is therefore not even worth mentioning? If so, I need to be brought around to that point of view. If not, tell me why so many of you had so much to say about the sex stuff and nothing to say about race.

But enough culture wars stuff for one post. Let’s actually take a crack at looking at talking about tonight’s show on its merits. Typing as I think (always dangerous):

I thought the Warwicks subplot really embodied the show to this point. It was over-the-top in a way I didn’t care for (a father had married his son’s ex-wife) yet the more abstract issue of how we forgive our parents their offenses against us, shone through at certain times, and I thought the resolution was pretty good.

I like Yoda the software geek, and love Grace’s responses to him. The animation subplot continues to have real promise, I think.

The dinner table conversation is pretty good, but I wish Daniel wasn’t wearing his collar. Seems off to me.

I imagine that one either takes or leaves zany characters like the sister-in-law.I have to admit that I was taking her this week. She feels relibably light, like one of Shakespeare’s mechanicals. Not comparing Daniel to Shakespeare, so hold your horses.

Acting: Aidan Quinn is doing a very good job, although maybe the facemaking when he found out that Warwick Sr., married Warwick Jr’s ex was a little much. Susannah (sp?) Thompson can really act, but her character is too tied to the martini to let her show much range. When she gets the chance, she shines.

Complaints: I still find the Catholic/mafia plot offensive. Fortunately, while the mafia element remains, and actually improves (sez me, anyway) the Catholic connection fades in future episodes. And this whole issue of whether you are going to let person A belong to your church if person B objects (in the Warwick father/son subplot) is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I think the problem is rooted in the mistaken idea that you would have to be a member of an Episcopal Church to be allowed to attend one on a regular basis. That just isn’t the case.

In all, less pathology inventory made for a better show. My goal next week is to watch as though it were any other show, and to laugh or not laugh, be moved or not be moved like a … well, like a normal person. For any number of reasons, I expect to fail, but what the heck.

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