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Television | CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK

For the record, he'll be snacking on crow

So maybe a few bright spots of the season did get overlooked. Critics can be people too.

December 17, 2006|Paul Brownfield | Times Staff Writer

NUMEROUS famous people went on TV this year to admit lapses in ethics (James Frey, Mel Gibson), judgment (Michael Richards, Rupert Murdoch, Gibson) and gunplay (Dick Cheney).

In that spirit, I offer the following corrections and clarifications to the year in TV reviews.

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"Friday Night Lights": An Oct. 3 review of this new NBC series about a high school football team in Texas contained numerous rash statements conveying the idea that the show is too slick for its own good, comparing it to "a small-town student-body presidential race financed by Hollywood money."

While "Friday Night Lights" is indeed financed by Hollywood money, it is not, as the review also stated, "a music video, really." Instead it's among the more seasoned of the new network dramas, having developed into a slick-but-meaty soap opera that balances its story lines with a sophistication that belies its big-tent TV premise: pretty teens governed by all the normal desires.

Further and equally refreshing, the show has no moral center, given that the adults are as caught up in football mania as the high-schoolers -- a dynamic nicely contained in the character of Dillon High's football coach Eric Taylor, played by Kyle Chandler. While the review said that Chandler "wears his weary, soulful gaze like a headset sponsored by the makers of Zoloft," it should also have noted his wry, understated wit and embodiment of a more enlightened brand of good-ol'-boy mannerisms.

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"Entourage" clarification: Due to a pleasure that is commonly qualified as "guilty," an analysis of the third season of the HBO series "Entourage" was left out of most editions of the newspaper in '06, although it did appear in internal e-mails and casual Hollywood outings among the TV critic and his friends, during which the analogy, "This is like an episode of 'Entourage' " or "I'm having an 'Entourage' moment" might have been uttered by persons including but not limited to the TV critic.

For the record, a review would have reasserted that there's nothing frankly at stake on "Entourage," which continues to madden the critic though he continues to watch, seething as the show relies upon the character of Johnny Drama for the twin tensions of career and ego self-deceptions while letting the others go scot-free -- and in fact celebrating how authentic their old-school Queens values are in the face of nouveau-riche Hollywood hipster-doofuses. Also, the review would have spoken in begrudging admiration of the three-episode turn of Martin Landau as the aged, out-of-the-business movie producer Bob Ryan, and his trademark phrase, "What if I told you ... ," which was then followed by: "Is that something you might be interested in?"

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"Studio 60" clarification: An Oct. 18 review of the new Aaron Sorkin series "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" neglected to mention the fine work of cast member Steven Weber, who plays Jack Rudolph, president of the fictional broadcast network NBS. This is kind of funny, when you think about it, because the review assessed very nearly every character except Rudolph. As it turns out, Rudolph is the only character on the show whose dialogue is not triple-deckered with wit and knowledge designed to flatter my already above-average intelligence as a TV viewer.

While I would like to thank Mr. Sorkin for thinking so much of me, I find his characters fill me only with self-loathing about my like-minded, superior way of gazing, downward, upon the world. Weber's Rudolph, meanwhile, by virtue of his over-the-top haughtiness, comes off as the least haughty of the bunch, an incessantly knowing group who move in and out of scenes dispensing observational factoids like they're breath mints.

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"The Wire": Despite watching all 13 episodes of the new season in the span of several days, the TV critic failed to disseminate his enthusiasm for this show to the public at large by actually writing about it. Suffice it to say "The Wire" is the best series on television. The critic regrets the error.

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paul.brownfield@latimes.com

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