MONEYBALL (2011) stars Brad Pitt as the Oakland A’s manager (it’s a based-on-truth story) who learns from computer nerd Jonah Hill that he can put together a winning team despite his straitened budget by computer-analyzing statistics to identify undervalued players who have the key asset that they keep getting on base—so a player who gets lots of walks can be more valuable to the team than a home-run slammer. I think this is geared more for baseball fans than sports-impaired viewers than me, but it is watchable, and it’s a nice subversion of the usual cliches of sports films (Philip Seymour Hoffman and others keep tossing out the usual mantras that Guts and Heart are more important than statistics and they’re wrong). “Turn around—you won’t jinx it.”
That was all the movies I had a chance to watch in a while, so this seems a good point to catch up on some TV series I’ve DVDed my way through—
SHERLOCK HOLMES is a 1950s series starring Ronald Howard (Lesley Howard’s son) as the great detective and H. Marion Crawford as Watson (the opening episode is one of the few to use Doyle’s version of their first meeting), tackling the usual array of baffling mysteries and troubled clients with Archie Duncan as a constantly disgruntled Lestrade. Howard is too amiably pleasant to catch Holmes’ acerbic nature, but Crawford is good and the series as a whole entertaining (occasionally excellent).
DOCTOR WHO: The Rescue has the TARDIS crew land near a shipwrecked Earth vessel tormented by a mysterious alien who delights in intimidating teenage Vicki and her companion Bennett. This was a two-episode story introducing the new companion (following Susan’s departure in Dalek Invasion of Earth); while Vicki doesn’t have Susan’s presence, the scenes of the Doctor taking her under his wing (as an obvious substitute for his granddaughter) are very good. “I don’t think the rescue ship will ever land.”
Like a lot of ABC affiliates, my local station pre-empted the second season of SLEDGE HAMMER for something with higher ratings (wasn’t hard) so I’ve never gotten to see more than a few episodes. The stories of over-the-top hard-as-nails cop Sledge Hammer (Addison Rasche), his frustrated boss and his saner partner bounce all over the map, sending up everything from the classic hardboiled films to one story that combines shots at then-current films Crocodile Dundee and Black Widow. At times a one-joke series (much is made of Hammer’s irrationality) but it’s fun to finally see it again.
THE BOOTH AT THE END is a five part series made for the Hulu streaming-TV website, in which a middle-aged man sits in a coffee shop, offering solutions to people’s problems if they’ll just do one little thing (“If you want to become prettier, you have to rob a bank.”). This series follows the interlinked efforts of several individuals to get their problems fixed (a woman who wants her husband cured of Alzheimer’s, a daughter who wants her father’s money problems fixed, a guy who wants a hot girl) and leaves us with some idea of The Man’s MO… but not much. Which worked for me; if you have Hulu, it’s worth checking out.