I saw three programs that were quite noteworthy and/or exceptional. The “King” part of this post’s title derives from tonight’s episode of The Tudors on Showtime. It was the penultimate show in the series’ second season and it was a whopper, with high drama, betrayals, and beheadings aplenty. Put it this way – it wouldn’t have surprised us at all if James Gandolfini and Al Pacino had walked in wearing doublets and joined in the mayhem. Whew! Next week in the season finale, Anne Boleyn has a date with the chopping block while her detestable father, Sir Thomas Boleyn, seems poised to walk away without a scratch after giving testimony against his own daughter.
The “Indiana” part of the title refers to Indiana Jones. As you cannot have avoided hearing, the 4th installment in the Indiana Jones series is due out this week. This evening on the History Channel, I watched an enormously entertaining 2-hour program that looked at all 4 films and examined their parallels in real-life archeology. The show was produced by Lucasfilm and was therefore able to include a great deal of footage from the movies. It also included lots of interviews with real-life archeologists. My favorite quote came from one of the archeologists, who said something along these lines: “There was one moment in Raiders of the Lost Ark that every archeologist I know laughed at, because it was completely true-to-life. It was the moment at the end when the ark was crated up and put into government storage, never to be seen again.” If you’re any kind of IJ fan, keep an eye out for that program.
The final word in the title of this post refers to Charles Manson. MSNBC showed a very interesting program about him titled The Mind of Manson. Here’s the setup: In 1987, the Today show conducted an extensive interview with Manson at San Quentin Prison. Due to controversy and disagreements within NBC, they ended up broadcasting only 7 minutes of it at the time. For the program I saw last night, they showed all of the footage to a former FBI profiler, who discussed at length the insights she was able to glean from the footage.
In spite of all I’ve seen and read about Manson over the years, this program gave me some new information and some new opinions on the matter. The thing that struck me the most is that, despite the horrific nature of the crimes orchestrated by Manson, the man himself was notably unimpressive. Dramatizations of this story seem to invariably imbue Manson with some degree of a mystical, messianic quality. While it’s true that he did pass himself off as Jesus Christ to some of his followers, I felt absolutely no mystical impression of the man himself; on the contrary, he seemed grubby and repellent but otherwise unremarkable. One could see that he possessed a certain odd charisma (that’s not quite the right word, but it will have to do), which was undoubtedly part of his gaining control over his followers. But just at the point where his charisma runs dry, his powers of intimidation take over. In fact, we get to see him try his intimidation routines on the Today show interviewer, though with no apparent success, which only serves to piss off Manson. This one-two punch of rough charisma and intimidation seems to have been enough to dominate certain types of people. Overall though, he’s a whole like a great many other people from broken homes with a certain level of street smarts, except that he put into action what are usually nothing more than twisted fantasies for others. Still, a fascinating program about someone we’ve heard about all our lives.
So there you have it – some historical drama, a cool show about the archeology behind Indiana Jones (so cool that I’ll forgive it for its true identity as a 2-hour promo for a new movie), and some true crime psychology. Truth be told, I’d have preferred feeling well enough to get up off the couch and get out of doors, but not a bad weekend of television. Not bad at all.