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Weekend Wrap-Up: HBO's "Recount," Peacock's New Sched Ruffles My Feathers

I always hate it when a three-day weekend comes to an end. I spent mine catching up on some much needed R&R, putting the finishing touches on some last minute wedding plans, and watching some truly horrific pilots. (Seriously, the pilot for the US adaptation of Spaced may very well go down as one of the worst things I've ever screened, but more on that tomorrow.)

Due to some overall insanity here the past two weeks or so, I hadn't gotten around to watching the screener that HBO had sent over for their two-hour telepic Recount, written by former Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gilmore Girls co-star Danny Strong, and finally sat down this weekend to take a look.

I'm curious to know how many of you tuned in to this intelligent and haunting look at the 2000 US presidential elections; the performances--from as varied a lot as Kevin Spacey, Laura Dern, Bob Balaban, Ed Begley Jr., Derek Cecil (a.k.a. That Guy from Push, Nevada and Pasadena), Denis Leary, Mitch Pileggi, and Tom Wilkinson (not to mention a cast of hundreds)--were absolutely riveting.

Dern's performance as Katherine Harris in particular will go down in history as one of the most astute portrayals of a real-life individual, fright mask and all, her face twisted into a joker's smile. Likewise, Spacey and Wilkinson nicely tone in down in adversarial roles as former Gore chief of staff Ron Klain and former secretary of state James Baker; both could have become scene-chewing caricatures, but both men play their marks as three-dimensional human beings each innately believing what they are doing is the best thing for the country.

Eight years after the millennial elections that saw W. face off with Gore over the fate of Florida (with the presidency hanging in the balance), it's astonishing to see just how mad those dark days were and Strong's script (aided by Jay Roach's effortlessly powerful direction) brings everything into shocking crystal clarity: the protests, law suits, back room maneuvering, and, yes, the recounts.

It's these recounts that comprise the largest section of Recount's plot but it is a backdrop for one of the most politically ambitious films--on the small screen or otherwise--in recent years and one that all of us, Democrat or Republican, should watch during HBO's next zillion screenings.

It's especially sad to me that Recount, produced by the great Sydney Pollack, made it to air on the same weekend that the director passed away here in LA after a battle with cancer. Pollack, who won an Oscar for directing Out of Africa, was originally meant to direct the HBO telefilm but had to drop out last year due to medical problems; Jay Roach later came on board to direct Recount. Pollack's passing will undoubtedly be on many people's minds today here in Hollywood and he'll be missed.

***

On a lighter note, NBC has released a revised version of its fall schedule, which shifts Kath & Kim from Tuesday nights to the Thursday night comedy block, a decision which makes a hell of a lot more sense than having it wedged between a 90-minute edition of The Biggest Loser and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Wouldn't you at least try to launch a new comedy--albeit one with just a six-episode commitment at the moment from the network--on a night with other comedies? Or am I just absolutely crazy?

Speaking of crazy, I was none too pleased to see that, while most of NBC's scripted series from Chuck and Heroes to The Office and newbies like My Own Worst Enemy will launch throughout September, 30 Rock won't return with new episodes until the end of October.

Yep, you read that correctly: the Tina Fey-created comedy (a Televisionary obsession) won't kick off its third season until October 30th.

In a word: Blurg.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: NCIS (CBS; 8); Most Outrageous Moments/Most Outrageous Moments (NBC); Beauty & the Geek (CW); According to Jim/According to Jim (ABC); Moment of Truth (FOX)

9 pm: The Unit (CBS); Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC); Reaper (CW); Samantha Who?/Samantha Who? (ABC); Hell's Kitchen (FOX)

10 pm: 48 Hours: Polygamy: A World Apart (CBS); Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC); Boston Legal (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8-10 pm: Britcoms on BBC America.

I don't know about you but by Tuesday night, I'm usually in need of some comedy in my life. Why not stick around on Tuesday nights for BBC America's new comedy lineup, consisting of classic episodes of Coupling, new comedy Not Going Out, and Absolutely Fabulous? You'll thank me in the morning.

Comments

Anonymous said…
I recorded REcount, but haven't watched yet. I caught a few minutes of it, and it looked like my kind of MOW. I am so proud of little Danny "I peed in the pool" Strong.
Very enjoyable. Great cast. Laura Dern definitely stole the show but, as you said, Kevin Spacey and Tom Wilkinson's more subtle performances were also a highlight. (That goes for Dennis Leary too.)

The only bad thing about this film was having to stomach the whole election nightmare once again.
Anonymous said…
I didn't watch Recount, but I hope they told the truth that it was the Democrats who tried to steal the election by breaking rules already established and that every time there has been a re-enacted count of the vote, George W Bush still wins. But if this movie helps Hollywood deal with the loss, well, then by all means, let them have it!

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