The Book of Daniel

. . . but not the one in the Bible.

When this show first came out there were calls to boycott it, and I e-mailed my local NBC affiliate to support their decision to go ahead and air the show. I saw the first episode, and truly was not impressed with the show. There was no reason to boycott it, but I saw little reason to believe I’d enjoy it either.

This week my wife and I got the DVD via Netflix, and watched the rest of the show. Through the first DVD my impression remained the same, but with the second DVD of the set the program actually improved. The final two episodes, which deal with Daniel’s son Peter getting beaten up because he is gay, and also look back to the death of son Jimmy from leukemia are really good. Having experienced the death of a child from cancer, I have a hard time watching such episodes, but the script had the right questions and many fo the right answers, or more precisely lack of answers, with which parents and other family members deal in such situations.

I think the failing of the show was still the introduction of two many sources of conflict at once, overloading the viewer, but as the show focused more and more on a smaller set of problems it got much better. I suspect that by the time a new show reaches its sixth episodes it has already lost most of its viewers.

In any case, the show was cancelled with no mourning from me at the time, but now that I’ve seen the entire series, my impression is much more favorable. I recommend taking a look at these DVDs.

DVD: The Lord Peter Wimsey-Harriet Vane Collection – Strong Poison / Have His Carcass / Gaudy Night)

Dorothy Sayers’s Lord Peter mysteries are among my favorite mystery books, so I was happy to find this collection of videos. I have to confess that I really didn’t like Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter Wimsey, but Edward Petheridge is much more convincing in the part. Harriet Walter is a convincing Harriet Vane.

The story follows the books fairly closely. I truly have no major complaints about the videos. Of course the Harriet Vane stories have the fairly odd set of echanges between Wimsey and Vane as Wimsey is determined to marry her, while she is determined not to marry.

I recommend these DVDs to fans of Dorothy Sayers without reservations.

DVD: The Shaggy Dog

Most of the time when I don’t like a movie I just don’t review it. But in this case, I make an exception. I like many Disney movies. They’re generally fun, you don’t have to take them too seriously, and yet they’re at least enchanting.

In this case, I’m not sure whether there was a good idea in there somewhere. There may have been, but it was obscured by an enormous pack or just ordinary ideas or even bad ones. There were a few funny scenes, but they weren’t connected together to make a really funny movie.

All in all, I didn’t find any of the characters all that attractive. I didn’t find the story very consistent or suspenseful. By the time the movie ended, I really didn’t care particularly what happened to any of the folks. The dog is pretty, and probably nice, but we didn’t see much of that.

I think this has to count as a rare “miss” for Disney in producing engaging movies for the whole family. (Note, except for boredom, there’s nothing here that should be a problem for family viewing.)

Three Movies over the Weekend

Over the weekend my wife watched (or started to watch) three movies, and I thought I would comment on them.

First was X-Men: The Last Stand. Just like it’s two predessors, this was a horrible movie, and I didn’t finish watching it. My wife managed to get to the end by skipping forward a lot. It didn’t get any better. I rate it a one. If you like pure special effects without a story, characterization, or any real consistency, perhaps you’ll be OK with it. Otherwise, pass. Since we got it from Netflix, we didn’t lose anything!

Second, we watched Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties. Jody got this one for me, because I love the Garfield cartoon. Well, I confess I loved the movie too. It sticks with the easy-going humor of the cartoon. The story isn’t complicated, but it doesn’t need to be. The two Garfields may be one (or two) too many, but that’s all the fun. This is good for relaxing, just like those time when you read the cartoon section of your local paper. I rate this a four.

Third was Take the Lead, starring Antonio Banderas. This is a really great movie, in my view, one that challenges us to do more with what we are given. I truly enjoyed the story just as entertainment, but when entertainment can be combined with the challenge to make more of ourselves, I call that great. This is a must watch.

Note that I got all of these from Netflix. See the add in the right hand sidebar. The links on each title are to purchase the items from

Experiencing the Blue Butterfly

This is not precisely a review, but more of a personal account of experiencing this movie. Even after it arrived from Netflix, it sat on top of our television for a couple of weeks. It never quite seemed the time to watch it. Finally my wife, who is better at diving into these things than I am, said, “Let’s watch it now!” And so I braced myself, and we did.

Why was this such a struggle for me? It’s going on two years now since our son (my stepson) died of cancer after a five year struggle. He was just 17 years old. Those last five years of his life were spent off and on fighting the battle with cancer, and even more importantly, fighting the battle against those who wanted to take away his life before he actually died.

The biggest fight in cancer, we found, was against fear. Whether or not you expect a cure, you have to learn how to keep on living. Some friends, relatives, and neighbors aren’t going to be helpful in that line. They will either become disheartened very early, and want to spend the intervening time in mourning, or they may focus so heavily on finding a cure that all else fades into the background. The first group steal your joy from day to day; the second group simply can’t understand why you won’t try just anything, even if it does not present any measurable chance of helping.

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