- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Spammed out

“For a productive decade, from 1969 (when they began confusing BBC audiences with ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’) to 1979 (when ‘The Life of Brian’ was released), the [Monty Python] group maintained a rigorously high comic standard. … Above all, they avoided comedic cliche — even, sometimes, at the expense of coherence.

“[The Tony-winning Broadway musical] ‘Spamalot’ is the Anti-Python; it systematically reverses everything that made the original funny. It is one big revue of cliches. The laughs are easy and unearned. Where the original Python was legitimately absurd. … In retrospect, all of this blandness is signaled by the title: Over the last 30 years, Spam has become such an icon of ironic kitsch that even hipsters have abandoned those old blue T-shirts with the yellow letters.”

—Sam Anderson, writing on “And Now For Something Completely Deficient,” Tuesday in Slate at www.slate.com

Magic metaphor

“In the new movie version of ‘Bewitched’ … class conflict has replaced the pre-feminist conflict of the ‘60s TV series. The controlling sexual rage of the old TV Darrin, constantly scolding Samantha whenever she used her ‘powers’ … has vanished. Now, Nicole Kidman is a witch who just wants to lead a normal middle-class American life — living in a blandly attractive suburban house, hashing out her problems at the Coffee Bean.

“So she gives up witchcraft — albeit in the fudging sort of way that Paris Hilton gives up money and privilege in ‘The Simple Life.’ Both ‘Bewitched’ the movie and the DVD of ‘Bewitched’ the TV show’s first season are released this week, and watching them you realize how easily magical powers can serve as a metaphor for fame and fortune. What makes the new ‘Bewitched’ as delightfully retro as the old series is the message that fame and fortune are as much a barrier to normal middle-class American happiness as magical powers; Will Ferrell, playing a spoiled and egomaniacal actor, only gets the girl once he gives up Hollywood perks like his own on-set cappuccino machine.”

—Catherine Seipp, writing on “Class Conscious,” Tuesday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Worth the price

“Michael Jackson is said to owe his attorneys $10 million, but I’m sure that the actual billing has not yet been completed. A paper clip here, a staple there and before you know it there goes another million in expenses. By the time the vultures have been placated, Michael will have paid through whatever he uses in place of a nose. Not to mention his months of meandering haplessly in his pajamas, being castigated by the judge and fearing the worst. Nor does he have much of a reputation left. No one will ever look at him again as the beatific benefactor of the innocent child. …

“Mr. Prosecutor, anytime you can scare up another complainant, feel free spending my tax money to put Michael on trial again.”

—Jay D. Homnick, writing on “Insult In Jury,” Tuesday in the American Spectator

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