So I’m catching up on premieres from this weird COVID TV season that has no start or end, but I actually had heard of the show B Positive before I watched it. The premise is basically that a guy has renal failure, has no close family or friends, and needs a kidney donor. He is at a wedding to an old friend, when he runs into a girl he knew in high school. She’s wasted, finds out he needs a kidney, and volunteers to put her organ in a guy for a change, and they can be kidney buddies for life.
Doesn’t that premise just SCREAM amazing comedy?
No? Well neither does the show.
So let’s talk about the two stars
The main character, Drew, is played by Thomas Middleditch. If you recognize him, it’s probably from Silicon Valley, but most people are likely to just think he is generic thin, bearded geek from Central Casting. You find out he’s divorced with a 12yo kid, supposedly he’s a therapist, and he is about as clueless as anyone can be, so not sure what kind of therapist he is. Anyway, he cracks one-liners every two minutes, and if you felt you were watching maybe Howard from Big Bang Theory, you wouldn’t necessarily be too far off in Ep1.
The donor buddy, Gina, is played by Annaleigh Ashford (Masters of Sex), and she’s basically a train wreck. Lives in a basement pad, drives a bus for a retirement home to take patients to appointments, drinks anything, screws anything, does any drug available. She’s a space cadet generally, and when Drew realizes that she’s serious about the offer, he goes to take her up on it only to find out she doesn’t really remember offering. But hey, why not? Of course, she has to be off drugs, meds, and eat healthy for 3m, what could go wrong with that option? She is really good at playing the brainless bimbo, and she’s helping Drew because he’s the one guy she didn’t hook up with in high school. She isn’t smart enough to use the word redemption, but she likes the idea of helping.
So what’s the rest of the plot?
Well, it’s kind of hard to tell. Presumably we’ll meet his patients, and she has a lot of options with her bus pals. Maybe there’s a love interest eventually, if the show lasted that long. Or maybe they become roommates to help her eat healthy.
His ex-wife is played by Sara Rue, who I liked in The Rookie and Less Than Perfect, although I confess I liked her better as a love interest for Leonard on Big Bang Theory. She basically dumped Drew for being unengaged in their marriage, and has some biting lines to go with it, but hey, they have a daughter, so they have to make it work. And yet, nothing in the first episode about him considering asking her or the daughter for help. Doesn’t even tell them it’s happening. Okay, umm, that’s going to be hilarious I’m sure. The daughter is played by Izzy G and has no role in Ep1 other than occupy space. He obviously cares about her, but is completely disconnected. Oooh, more sources of amusement, right? Did I mention this is supposedly a comedy?
I am almost happy to say that the patients on the bus include Linda Lavin (Alice, Flo) and Bernie Kopell (Get Smart, Bewitched, Love Boat) but they were good for a line and gone.
The bottom line
I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t laugh either. But I have NO idea where the plot is going to go. It’s 3m to kidney donation and then what? There’s nothing to hang your hat on pass that point. Unless they’re living together or they work together, or they hook up. The kidney thing ain’t going to hold the show together. Plus he’s still in love with his ex-wife.
So my prediction is cancellation. Yet TV Grim Reaper is predicting renewal. Maybe it’s the COVID bounce, I don’t know, but I didn’t see much there to hold it together. Maybe people are desperate for something that isn’t binge-watching Netflix. But I won’t be watching. I’m out.
If you have archivist tendencies, combined with strong analytical props, and a digital bent, digital photo management is the field for you, my friend. As an amateur or professional, you too can find new and interesting rabbit holes to explore.
For me, I have wanted to put some of my photos online since 2005 when we bought our first digital camera. Actually, a little before that, as we had films developed and they threw in digital prints for a $1 more sometimes. And I’ve had a website since back to the dark ages before that, with the natural thought, “Could I share them on there?”.
Round 1 – Basic HTML site
Initially, round 1 of my attempt was to code my own little gallery website. I was doing all of my photos in custom FrontPage designs, and I uploaded two or three albums in HTML code. It worked, it was functional, but it wasn’t very easy to manage. More like “dump them here and you can see them”. I also wasn’t particularly sure if I had a good process behind the scenes, but when there’s only a couple of hundred, the supply side of uniformity in file management gives way to the demand side of ease of management. Throw them in a folder, call it done. Upload a few, call it done.
Eventually, I upgraded the side to a content management system, and photos were NOT an easy inclusion. Sure, I *could* include them, but it was very manual AND hard to manage all the photos on the site. They didn’t go in a subfolder, they just went in one big directory online called “media” or “images”. Not very satisfactory even with a couple of hundred images. If I uploaded another year’s worth? Meh.
Sure, I could do it through FB, but I don’t really like FB that much, and I really don’t like having all my stuff there. Plus lots of people in the family who would/could/might want to view the images aren’t ON Facebook. Or at least most of them weren’t at the time. Over time, that edge has dulled a bit, but still, it’s an issue.
Round 2 – Photo hosting site
Eventually, I decided I needed a REAL solution for online. I had enough photos that I wanted to upload that I went for an online photo site, and reviewed a bunch of sites. In the end, I went all-in on Smug Mug. It was great. I could choose a theme, I could have subdirectories. I had to manually add all my labels and descriptions, uploading my initial pics for the second time plus about 4y worth of photos, but at least I could do it. Cross-linking to my website wasn’t easy peasy, lemon squeezy, but I could do it. Sort of. More like “good enough” rather than “good”.
Except that because of the volume and use I was needing, I needed a paid account. It was only about $100 a year overall, but it was always a bit grudging payment. Here I was, paying for Smug Mug to host my pics, when I was ALREADY paying for my own site. Does that make sense to anyone? Easier than running my own photo gallery, most of the time, sure, but on principle, it annoyed me.
Round 3.1 – PolyWogg.ca
And about 6-7 years ago, the principle got to me. I wanted it on my own site. No content rules, no limitations, my own site. So I moved it to my polywogg.ca account. Great. I ran a gallery called Coppermine initially, got it going, wasn’t totally happy with it, but managed to upload a year or two. Not bad. I considered it “round 3” for online.
But it wasn’t working quite the way I wanted it to, I struggled here and there. Eventually, I decided I needed a different solution, and opted for a photo gallery called Piwigo. It had a lot of power, extra extensions, themes and plugins, like any good online community eco-system. And it handled all of my photos REALLY well. Video was still a bit of a challenge, but I could make it work. Probably.
I didn’t quite get the chance to find out. I ran into some problems about that time with an old hoster, and moved to my third hoster of my online career. I lasted about 18m with that one before they really started screwing me around. I was almost to the point where I was considering calling in a lawyer if the amounts weren’t so small. Mostly I just wanted to smack them around. Really terrible business practices and even worse support. Like them modifying my site without telling me, my finding their changes, their denying it despite the logs showing they had done it, so they deleted the logs, and my support tickets, and then deleting my complaint files (all the same support people) so the bosses wouldn’t find out what they had done. Eventually it blew up on them entirely, and a lot of people went public for awhile before the whole unit was fired and supposedly new people hired, but by that time, I was long gone.
I had moved to a medium-sized company in Canada, my current hoster, and within days of moving, I knew I felt at home. There had been a long, lingering problem on the old site, I was convinced it was a server configuration issue but had no idea how to solve it and the support people denied there were any issues. Two days after I moved to the new host, their support group reached out to me, noting the misconfiguration was likely affecting my site performance and suggesting a fix, if I was okay with it. For what I was doing, there was a small reconfiguration required, and they were proactively helping me solve it. Nice.
I reinstalled Piwigo, spent about a year getting it all up and running the way I wanted it to (after all the other changes I made to my main website were taken care of), and I consider that round 3.2. I started uploading photos. Again.
For the first year of photos, this was the fifth time uploading them somewhere (once in HTML, once in SmugMug, once in Coppermine, and now twice in Piwigo on two different hosters). Some metadata transferred, some did not. Sigh.
Round 4.1 – WordPress
I know I’m anal, but this decision really wasn’t mine. Not exactly.
You see, my site has unlimited storage and unlimited bandwidth (within the general setup of the site for speed and servers), BUT one thing that almost all small hosting packages have in common is a small note in the fine print. A limit on “inodes”.
If you don’t know what an inode is, you’re not alone, and most people who have hosting packages never even notice it. It’s basically a “file marker” in the server that tells it where to find a folder or a file. Like an index card system in a library or your old file allocation table in Windows.
For my hosting package, I am authorized up to 200K inodes. Which sounds like a lot. I have unlimited space, but for inodes, I can have say 1 folder with 199,999 files in it, or 100K folders with only 1 file in it. Neither are likely scenarios but here’s the catch. When you install WordPress, with all its little files for the core, themes and plugins, it takes about 10K files and folders. Piwigo takes about 5K all on its own. I also run two other installations of WP on my site (for other sites), and I used to have 3. Which meant just based on “installed” software, I had 35K worth of my 200K inodes already taken up.
Still, lots of room, and I cut one installation when I merged PolyBlog with PolyWogg. Back to 25K in inodes, 175K left. Plenty of space, right? Except Piwigo has a really nasty habit of generating other sized photos. So let’s say I upload 10K photos. That’s 10K inodes. Initially.
Then Piwigo generates a thumbnal (+10K), a small image (+10K), a medium image (+10K), a large image (+10K), and the original image (~0 extra). So 10K worth of images generates 50K in inodes. Umm…that’s not good. In fact, with EVERYTHING running at one point, I was up to 145K/200K used. Yikes.
Now, I can reconfigure Piwigo not to do that, and I did. I got it down to a smaller number, but the way it does it, it will always generally be twice the number of inodes.
Okay, so I had it down to a smaller functioning site, all good, right?
Well, not exactly. I still had to keep maintaining the site for admin, including improved security, etc. Plus, it isn’t exactly the most robust of software packages. I found a few things that had to be coded manually to fix, and while we found solutions (or rather the community experts helped me figure it out), it was kind of like hacking the code to make it do what I wanted. Satisfying and unsatisfying at the same time.
Round 4.2 – New WordPress versions
In the meantime, WordPress was continually evolving. It moved forward several iterations and then finally a full version upgrade, and more and more, the Piwigo solution wasn’t really integrating very well, Which is a bit of a problem.
I am, primarily, a blogger. While I have a huge site, most of the content is in pages I wrote as blog entries like this one. And I want to include more photos. Even if it is only, “Hey, here’s this photo I took yesterday at the tulip festival” before I tell some story about the experience. Yet the more WP evolved, the harder it was to integrate the photos from the site. I did it a bit manually for awhile too, passing up on some malfunctioning automated tools, but it was far from satisfying.
What I REALLY wanted was what I had wanted from the beginning. One site, one solution.
I dug back into all the photo galleries that had existed from the dawn of time, or at least it seemed like it. I found dozens that were popular and in heavy use. Some were really cool. I limited myself to those that were still compatible with the new versions of WordPress, but it was still a long list.
And almost all of them had a recurring problem. The same one I had way back at the beginning…they all use the media library as their default save location, which means by default, all the photos are stored in the same place as where you store your site header, featured images, etc. It’s nice that it’s all in one spot, but it is kind of like throwing all your books in one room and saying you have a library. No organization, no easy searching, just a long list of images to find the one you want.
The most popular one of all is one called NextGen. It has been around for years, made by Imagely, and one of the reasons people use it, other than robustness, is that it has a totally separate file structure. That presents good and bad features, but the biggest “pro” is that all of your media is stored separately. Your core media library remains untouched. One “con” is that it doesn’t handle video.
But since none of the others can handle video either, I gave it a go. Again. Sure, I say again, because I had tried it 2-3 other times previously. I always wanted all my stuff in WP, and every time I considred Smug Mug or Piwigo, I looked to see lightly if I could find a good solution in WP, and NextGen was always on the list. I could never get it to work properly.
I don’t know exactly why, but it would NEVER work right. So I’d move on, frustrated.
This time I tried it, and it worked. Out of the box, day one, first light. It just worked. What’s different from the last time? A new version of WordPress, which is significant. And I’m on an entirely different hoster that is properly configured. Does that make the difference? I don’t know. I just know it works.
Holy crap. It worked. I could integrate my GALLERY within my MAIN SITE. Holy snicker doodles.
I started uploading. I got 2005-2008 uploaded, and I hit a small wall. My site design wasn’t quite right.
Round 5 – PolyWogg 5.0
I redesigned major parts of my site in the last year. Fixed a bunch of inconsistencies, tweaked some other settings, added whole new sections. And each time I made a change, I kind of said, “Okay, I’ll figure out later how my photos fit into this new site.” I kept pushing it off.
I needed the “words” to work before I figured out how the photo and videos would work. Or if they even would.
That’s no small issue. While there are huge advantages to having everything in one site, my site has grown. It’s quite large. It has a LOT of moving parts. And the more I push in certain areas, the more I expand my content, the less functional it seemed having everything together.
A few weeks ago, I had to bite the bullet and decide. Was it going back to having two (or more) sites for PolyWogg content, maybe one for my HR guide, a separate one for regular blogging, a separate one perhaps for photos? In the end, I reframed the question. What were the REAL obstacles in having it all on one site?
The final analysis brought me to two pain points:
Content management wasn’t the real issue. It was that I have a lot of content that I want to group together but branding it doesn’t really work with my standard “PolyWogg” headers. And navigation amongst the sub areas is too hard when you only have one pull-down menu for that category with a lot of sub-sub-sub-menus.
Again, as with all things in web developer, there was another option besides a separate site. I could, in theory, have separate headers for my different content as well as separate menus. There would be one master menu for the site, but once you got into more granular areas, you would move to a wholly different menu too.
Except I had tried this on multiple occasions, my theme is SUPPOSED to be able to do this, and I’ve never been able to get it to work. I’ve tried other plugins, nada. But this is what I WANTED. Maybe I could bang my head for a few weeks and see if I could cobble together a solution.
Okay, step 1, reach out for theme support. See if they had suggestions as to which other plugins would work well with the theme to do exactly what I wanted. Or tell me how to make it work with the theme. I’ve had some luck with them in the last year tweaking my theme, so I was willing to give it a go. I posted my question, aaaaand I crashed their site.
I’m not kidding. I literally crashed their support site. They fixed it and went, “Huh, what happened?”. I told them I had been posting a question, they double-checked the log, and sure enough, it was my account that killed it. My account is somehow corrupted (they don’t know how or why), and my posting killed them. They’ve tweaked it so that I can’t do it again, but my acct is still messed up somehow. I can use it, but well, I get some weird screens that others don’t get. No worries, I’ll survive.
Except in the meantime I figured I would see how far I could get on my own down this rabbit hole. I went to my theme. I enabled the features. I went to my test page, switched the header to the proper one, no change. Yep, I remember that outcome. Went back to another sub-page, made some more tweaks, misread an option, set it, reset, now NO header. WTF? Oh. Oops, misread it. Okay, reset that option, found two others that seemed to make sense that I haven’t noticed before, might be new, retested. And my header changed. All of my branding changed for that one sub-page with 2 minutes worth of work. Holy smokes.
Okay, don’t get cocky, I thought. I went to the menu area. I tried to create a new menu, copying over my old one. Told it not to put it ANYWHERE, just a dummy menu. Went in and deleted some stuff just so I could see that it was different. Went to the page that had the new header and told it to show the new menu on that page, not the regular menu. Reloaded. BAM! All of my navigation was changed for that one sub-page with 2 minutes more work.
I did it. Exactly the way it is supposed to work, and I’m 95% sure, exactly the way I had tried it on previous occasions. But I don’t care now. It works.
Which meant I could keep my single site. Which means no separate setup. Nothing to stop me from using my existing site. All I had to do was decide on a consistent format to my layout and design for that sub-area that wouldn’t bite me in the butt later.
Because I’m not talking some small site. The average site in WordPress for people using other galleries is maybe 1000 photos. Sites that run full WooCommerce and sell products frequently don’t have more than 1000 items in their site. For me? We average 2000 photos a year, of which I post about a third. We broke a thousand mid-way into year 2, I’m over 2000 by the end of year 4, and I haven’t even included all the photos from our wedding events that year. Including the honeymoon section which is huge.
Long term, I’m estimating somewhere around 20K photos just to get caught up to now, although that may top 25K. I know professional photographers who don’t have that many. AND I haven’t even got to what I want to do for astrophotography images.
Rebooting the gallery
Since I had already uploaded the photos for 2005-2008, I didn’t have to do much to “fix” those galleries. I renamed a bunch, I changed the look and feel from an old template being deprecated to a new one, tweaked some inconsistencies here and there, and added a new video section that works really well, so I’m generally “good to go”.
Previously when I played with the first 4 years worth of gallery, I had to spend a lot of time getting them up and running. Maybe one gallery a day. I just did 32 galleries in about four days, one year per day, generally about 2 hours work while I was editing other things.
I’ve even managed to get past my previous point of progress (2005-2008), completed all the old galleries for the wedding, and I’m finally back into the truly “new” ones for being part of WordPress. I had reached 2011 at one point with SmugMug, I think, but I’m pretty happy with my early rebuild. I have a full workflow figured out, complete with Mylio as my software, and it is giving me the confidence that I have finally “turned the corner” on my go to solution. Four years down, thirteen to go, albeit the next thirteen won’t be anywhere near as fast. And alas, 2009-2011 is redoing old work. At least I’m doing it properly now.
Just don’t ask me about astrophotography yet. I don’t know HOW I’m going to organize that stuff.
Overall though, apparently the “seventh time was the charm”…I have won a decisive battle, but the war rages on.
For those who have read my blog before, you know that I’m relatively transparent about things in my life that are about me. I might hedge on stories that intersect with Andrea or Jacob, particularly where some things are not my story to tell, but on my side of life, I’m fairly open. I feel at times that it is part of my zeitgeist with respect to the blog. There’s no point having a blog of my experiences if I am sugar-coating part of it, or turning it into a “sunshine and rainbows”-type social media feed, where you only post photos and updates that reflect well on you.
So over the last couple of years, I’ve talked about my weight, some heart stuff, tests here and there, etc. But one thing I haven’t talked about, mostly as it wasn’t that significant, was a problem I have with my legs. Like many overweight and/or diabetic/pre-diabetic people, I can get swelling in my ankles and shins, extra pooling of water, and normally you can “dispel” the water by wearing compression socks. Exciting, sexy, squeeze the water out of your shins, stockings.
I have a couple of pair, and if/when things get bad with my legs, I can wear them for a few days or weeks, and things return to some semblance of normal. It’s not super comfortable, but it gets the job done.
But I also have a specific spot on my right shin that I bang regularly. I’ve banged it for years, all the way back to being a kid, and while lots of people have scars on their knees, I have a bunch where I scraped my shins. It’s a little bit gross, I admit, but when my legs swell, the scars tend to fill with a bit of water. Once in a while, I’ll break the tissue layer on something, the water will run out, it leaks for a day or two, it heals, it goes back to normal. Annoying, but not exactly serious.
Then about 3 months ago, I rapped my shin a good one. I seem to recall it being something simple like a laundry basket of clean clothes sitting near my bed. I walk from the bathroom to the bed in the dark, and if I forget that I put the basket there, I can easily catch the side of it on my shin as I pass by. I do, and I did, except this time? It took a very large chunk out of a big area, and it has taken a long time to heal. It bled initially, I didn’t even notice at the time other than it was stinging, and I ended up washing it all off in the morning. It leaked, no biggie. Except, as I said, it hasn’t healed.
Now, lots of older people in their 80s and 90s get these types of skin breaks that take time to heal, but young guys like me (as the nurse said earlier today hahaha) should heal faster. In the meantime, I was in a cycle of it being irritated, drying out, showering, getting irritated, drying out, etc. A few months ago, it was annoying me, and I put some anti-bacterial cream on it for a day or two with some bandages, kept it covered, seemed fine.
Until last weekend.
Last Saturday / Sunday, it started to get sore. And a few times this week it really suddenly “pinged”, like a sharp pain almost like someone stuck me with a pin. It was sore to the touch, started being redder, but then it would fade, all good for a bit. More worrisome, but not alarming. Until last night. What had been simply red and irritated suddenly looked all yellow, gooey, and gross, like it was infected. Plus it hurt like the Dickens (the devil, not the writer).
So I snapped a pic, asked Andrea to be equally grossed out and validate my concern that I was a gross, overweight slob who was probably now infected too, and reached out this morning to my normal doctor’s office to see if I could get an appointment.
Now, I need to step back a moment. My doctor is part of a larger “teaching clinic” so there is the supervising physician and several resident interns usually, and they are housed within a long-term care hospital, so the rules for visiting are a bit strict. I tried to have my eye looked at in the fall, when I had pink-eye which negates going pretty much anywhere, and didn’t get very far. I ended up just doing AppleTree who did tele-medicine for me. Honestly, most of the time it is easier to get into AppleTree after a couple of hours of waiting rather than my clinic’s several days to get in. One nice part for the main clinic was that it was close to work, so if I was going for a regular appointment, I could pop out and back during the day. Now? Not so convenient.
But the magic words are “I think it might be infected” and they managed after much juggling and texting between triage and the clinic to find me a spot this morning at 11:30. It was a crapfest of a day for my schedule at work, but 11:30 it was.
Off I go, they even had room in the parking lot for a change, pass through screening level 1 and then 2, and then arrive in the empty waiting room. As an aside, the screening person told me I could put a new mask (PPE-style) on over top of my existing mask, which seemed odd, but okay. Then as soon as I arrived in the clinic, one of the doctors immediately told me I had to take my regular mask off and just wear the PPE. Okay, I live to serve. Just tell me the correct rules, I’ll follow them! You’re the ones on the front line, I’ll do what you tell me.
Appointment was relatively fine. Sure, I know the horror stories out there. People whose infections don’t get under control, spread up the leg, cause lots of pain, huge risk of sepsis and even death, although far more likely to lose the leg than anything, if things go south. Or north as the case may be.
Anyway, mostly I was just pissed at myself. The reason I’m having this problem is that I haven’t taken advantage of the last 9m at home to really turn some health corners. I’ve held my ground, and made a bit of progress, but there are bigger gains on the horizon once I get there. This however is one of the types of complications that comes from NOT solving the problem earlier. 100% preventable. And if it expands, there’s only me to blame.
Fortunately, the infection hasn’t spread, it’s still local and not too extreme from the looks of it. Anti-biotics and some clean dressings should have me right as rain in a couple of weeks, hopefully. They are worried about the excess fluid in the legs, so I’ll have to revisit compression stockings, and they have custom ones that fit better apparently, which sounds oh, so wonderful.
I think the doctor thought I was over-reacting a bit until I showed him the photo from last night. He didn’t even think it was the same wound at first as I’ve cleaned it up and taken a shower this morning to clean it all out. I got high marks for wound care, at least.
I also took advantage of my visit to revisit my gaping hole in blood work to make sure my blood pressure and diabetes-related meds are working, and he was not as impressed that it has been so long since my last test. I was due last spring, just before the world collapsed, so he wants that done asap, and some other referrals related to the wound care (CCAC, etc.). A few things to put in place as soon as possible, and while not necessarily critically urgent, I’m trying to tick as many boxes as I can today. The day was already a crapshow anyway.
I won’t post actual photos of the leg, it’s pretty gross looking, and I’m having a bit of a self-esteem problem already today. Hopefully I can use that as a bit of a motivation for change, but I’ll settle for a short-term motivation to get the wound healed and try out some new compression socks.
Like I said in the title: stupid leg, stupid me. But at least it’s not irreversible and relatively easily treated to start. Fingers crossed.
Back in the exciting times of the original show, “Walker: Texas Ranger”, you could tune in and see Chuck Norris as Cordell Walker, Texas Ranger, living the legend of Texas rangers everywhere. The story goes that a town asked for help from the Rangers for some upheaval in their town, and when the train arrived, there was only one Ranger. One riot, one Ranger. And each week, whatever happened and despite whatever help he had throughout the episode, Cordell usually ended up in a fight with multiple bad guys and used his martial arts to defeat, arrest, and book ’em. Occasionally, he lost his hat in the attack, but would always retrieve it. Lots of fight scenes, sometimes with shots of people flying here, there and everywhere either being thrown or diving great distances to tackle someone.
Plus, there was always the case of the week. Usually it took the form of someone seemingly innocent being either forced to be shady or just being shady, they’d get found out mostly by the smell test from Walker’s nose, and within 44 minutes, it was over. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
Meet a new Walker
While the original Walker had everything together, the new Walker’s life is a complete mess. In addition to having a dead wife, he’s also been MIA in his kid’s life for the last year. Now he’s back, but his two kids struggled without him, and he really doesn’t know how to be a father. Which isn’t a surprise, he didn’t know how to be a father before he left either. He was terrified of being alone with his family even, a backstory that made no sense with the wife he was with, but hey, whatever. She gets dead, he hides in undercover work, now the show starts.
While he is still supposed to be some cop superstar, you wouldn’t know it from the episode. The cop work is almost non-existent in Ep1, perhaps because they spend so much time introducing everyone around town including multiple family members, coworkers, some kid who was apparently undercover or knew something or whatever. It wasn’t even clear, but it was the big breakthrough in the 2 minute long case of the week.
I get that it is Ep 1, and there’s a lot to “introduce”. But you kind of need a cop show to include some actual casework. Meh.
Walker himself is played by Jared Petecki of Supernatural fame, and lots of people will line up to watch just cuz it’s him. Me? I’ve only made it through S1 of Supernatural and I don’t find him much of an actor. Strong and silent doesn’t go very far if you don’t have presence, and I didn’t see much in any of the scenes in Ep 1. What I kept thinking for most of the episode was how great it would be if it was Timothy Olyphant, if it was the U.S. Marshals, and if I had more episodes of Justified to watch. Olyphant was just as screwed up, but at least he had presence. Meh.
The supporting cast
Somebody is going to trim some budget really soon. The cast is HUGE.
Walker, sure. Obvious.
He has a partner? Check. Lindsey Morgan from The 100, looking WAY too small and too earnest to be a Texas Ranger badass. A Mexican American woman Ranger, sorry. And HE’s the one having problems at work. Uh huh.
He has a boss? Check. Coby Bell, formerly of The Gifted, and I didn’t mind him in it. His character bounced around a lot with the writer’s lack of direction, but he was fine then, and he seems comfortable here.
Let’s expand to his family. Father, mother, brother, son, daughter. I probably missed someone in there. And in Ep 1 alone, the writers made sure to give him a scene with ALL of them one on one. Why? I have no idea. But do we really need to meet all FIVE family members? Mitch Pileggi plays the dad, and I like him in just about anything, even if the character sucks. I liked him in X-Files obviously, but also Day Break (1 season), an episode of Cold Case, Stargate: Atlantis, an episode of Castle, and even Blue Bloods. Maybe Supergirl blew chunks, but hey, I like the guy in almost everything. So am I happy to see him here? Nope, he has nothing to do.
Molly Hagan plays the mom, and I confess, I love her. I do. I have ever since she was the voice of compassion on Herman’s Head way back in ’91. Over the years, I have liked her when she popped up on Star Trek shows, Early Edition, JAG, Monk, NCIS, Eli Stone, Cold Case, and Castle. I always do this mental dance, “What’s her name, and where did I see her last” before remembering Herman’s Head. So, sure, I’m glad she’s here, just like Mitch, but as far as I can tell, her role is to shout at the family or have deep meaningful discussions while she rewires a lamp or something. Yawn. Don’t get me wrong, I’m willing to watch her rewire a lamp any day and twice on Sunday. But it isn’t exactly great television.
Moving on, we come to the angry daughter. Violet Brinson plays Stella, but why they gave her a name, I don’t know, she could literally just be angry daughter for the whole episode. Her brother, Arlo, is played by Kale Culley and either of one may be master thespians, but we’ll never know based on the 45 seconds of screen time they have to be “angry daughter” and “anxious to please son”. And neither have anything to do with the cases. Why do I care?
Last but not least is the loving brother. The one who stepped in as substitute Dad while Walker was off undercover. He wants Walker to focus on being a dad and forget everything else. Why? Because he obviously had something to do with the wife’s death a year before, or at least knew something, and hasn’t said. It’s like he walked straight out of central casting as the brother who will turn out to have been between a rock and a hard place and knew whatever got the wife killed, but is REALLY sorry about it all. He’s played by Keegan Allen, and I hope he has something else for his character to do other than be a future “fifth business” reveal. His job, dun dun dun, is as an ADA, so we should theoretically be seeing a lot of him.
And I’m not done. Wait, there’s more. If you act now, we’ll throw in MORE supporting cast members who have nothing to do with Ep 1! We have the partner’s boyfriend (just to make it clear there’s no romance going on with his partner, that would be crazy, right?). Jeff Pierre is the actor and remember that name as you are going to see it in the credits. Maybe not on screen for longer than 30s, but you’ll see it. And there’s some chick at a bar that he knows played by Odette Annable, his dead wife (played by his real-world wife Genevieve Padalecki), and his daughter’s friend (Gabriela Flores). But wait, there’s more. I’m sure we’ll get to meet the kid who was afraid at a pottery store, the daughter’s teachers, maybe her dentist, who will no doubt turn out to be an old lover of Walker’s who’s in a bit of trouble that erupts just as his daughter is in for a cleaning. Holy crap, there are PEOPLE EVERYWHERE. Oh, wait, no they have farm animals, there should be room for a hot female vet to stare lovingly at the father while the kids get jealous.
And nobody in any of the cast is really DOING anything for the entire episode.
Okay. Calm myself. It’s not like the original Walker was some master class in acting. They showed up, caught the bad guys, kicked some butt, spouted a few words like “drugs are bad” and cashed their cheques. I’m confident this group can do it too. Just as long as the writers remember that it’s a cop show at some point.
But that last part is the weak link. The show’s creator, Anna Fricke, notched her belt with shows like Everwood, Men in Trees, Being Human. I would love to be confident that the show will find its footing in action, not relationship angst. I just don’t see it being her go-to scene. Now, if she wants to write about him moving to Alaska to find himself after his wife dies, taking his two kids to live with him in a small town, I might be able to follow that one.
What the heck. It’s a coin toss for me for renewal. The brand is solid, and if they can do case-of-the-week FAST, the brand for Walker + the love for Patecki should be renewal gold. If they turn it into Everwood, Texas Style, me thinks no one will find it. Because the people showing up for Patecki and Walker are not looking for Everwood. I’ll go with Renewal, reluctantly. And I’ll watch for another episode or two to see if it goes ANYWHERE.
There’s a new comedy that started this month called Mr. Mayor. It’s about Michael J. Fox working for the city…errr, no wait, that was Spin City from 1996. Right, no this one stars Brandon Michael Hall as a hip-hop artist who runs for mayor as a publicity stunt…err, nope, that was The Mayor from 2017. Wait, which one is this again?
Oh, right, THIS comedy about a mayor is about a rich business-type with a teenage daughter who doesn’t think he knows how to work, so he runs for Mayor to impress her. Uh-huh. The show opens with his first day on the job, having no clue what he’s doing. Gee, that sounds like the other ten shows about idiots becoming mayor, or finding new meaning as a councilperson, or blah blah blah.
So, let’s get to the good stuff. This one stars Ted Danson. Cheers. Becker. Curb Your Enthusiasm. The Good Place. Okay, maybe not all a laugh riot. So let’s go back. Remember Cheers? Okay, it’s kind of like Sam Malone was a rich business type but became mayor. Not as stupid but still a lovable goof. Yeah, okay, it’s not selling me either.
And I have to confess. Most of the time, I find Danson watchable but far from funny. He does a great reaction to impossible situations, the deer-in-the-headlights type double take, and you want to root for him, but the older he gets, the smarmier he starts to look like the playboy Sam Malone rather than the one who tries. Is he awesome? Nope. Watchable. So not an obvious “goodbye” but not an obvious “gotta watch” either.
The supporting cast
The supporting cast so far is made up of a rival, three worker bees and a daughter. Let’s start with the worker bees.
Vella Lovell plays his social media-savvy person who helped get him elected and is now repulsed by what she has done, but likes the health care coverage. The only thing I’ve seen her in before is Crazy Ex-GF, where I lasted most of an episode before bailing. She’s okay, but nothing to write home about. Her partner in crime is played by Michael Cabellon, the political assistant who will run the mayor’s day and advise him what’s next. I’ve seen him in a couple small parts in other shows, and he has a bit of presence, but his character hasn’t gelled yet to know what his role will turn out to be. Straight man? Funny one-line commentator? In-the-know disgusted looker? Who knows. Meh.
Bobby Mynihan plays the acting deputy comms director and the character is pretty much clueless about everything. He doesn’t care about the politics, just keeping the train running. For the acting though, I love the portrayal. Quirky without being over the top, more understated, and if the show were to last, could be a huge breakout position. I didn’t recognize him from Saturday Night Live as I haven’t watched in years, nor oddly enough, as the voice of Chet from Monsters Inc. Nor from the role of Me, Myself and I as the middle version, but I didn’t watch the show long enough to register anyone other than John Larroquette being terrible in it.
So two balls and then a base hit.
Enter the daughter played by Kyla Kennedy. I was surprised you actually got to see the daughter at school, running for Class President, even if only briefly. Maybe she’ll actually have a role other than original catalyst, and she does have a couple of good straight scenes. I saw her briefly in Speechless, but it’s on my binge list and haven’t got back to it. I’d give her a nod for his one, didn’t suck.
And then we come to the other heavy hitter…Drum roll please….Holly Hunter. When I saw that Holly Hunter was in the show as a political rival who tried to run and didn’t make it on to the ballot, and now is running around as a councilwoman with a chip on her shoulder, I thought, “Well, that’s a bonus.”
Raising Arizona? Meh. Broadcast News? Wow. The Firm? Okay. The Incredibles? I like her voice for the mom, Elastigirl. And then there’s Saving Grace. Unusual. Riveting. Amazing performance throughout.
And then there’s Mr. Mayor. Crickets. I don’t want to sling mud, she’s not horrendous or anything, she’s still Holly Hunter and she knows how to act, but beyond that? There’s nothing about her to love.
The greater crime
So I have Ted being watchable, Holly being okay, the daughter decent, the two staffers meh and one possible breakout performance. Not screaming “watch me”, right?
And yet, I could forgive all of that for one small requirement, particularly in the aftermath of 2020. Make me laugh.
I don’t want much. I’ll settle for some softballs. A titter here, a titter there? Is that too much to ask for?
Apparently it is. It says the show was created by Tina Fey with the idea of a spin-off from 30 Rock before being retooled as a whole new show, and maybe it would have worked the other way, but it doesn’t work here. TV Grim Reaper checks the stats and it would be foolish to bet against his predictions or Ted Danson. Reaper says “likely renewal” so far? I say, “No chance”. I’d cancel before EP10. I’m so far out, I can’t even see LA from where I am.