Saturday, February 18, 2006

Another Year With The Fishers

A Boxed-Set Review

Though they can often be hard to take I find that I have grown strangely attached to the dysfunctional Fisher family of HBO's Six Feet Under. I have just finished season 2 of the program and am as impressed as ever with the writing, camera work, acting, and of course those eerily convincing fake dead bodies (the Fishers run a funeral home for those few who didn't know). One of the things that I like about the show is its 'Patton like' sense of ambiguity. By 'Patton like' I am of course referring to the classic George C. Scott helmed bio-pic that portrayes its subject character in such a way that no easy interpretation is provided, a viewer can come out of that film thinking that 'old blood and guts' was anything between a madman and a genius and have plenty of 'ammunition' to support their argument. While show creator Alan Ball does have a liberal agenda as confirmed by the audio-commentaries, he does not shy away from portraying any point of view that is internally consistent. For example the same episode that champions gay parenting also does a wonderful job of portraying abortion-guilt. There are no easy answers on Six Feet Under.

Though each season of the program averages only 13 episodes (a standard compliment for a pay cable drama) there is more packed into those shows then most network dramas do in a season that is nearly twice as long. The engagement between Nate Fisher (Peter Krause) and Brenda Chenowith (Rachel Griffiths) manages to survive Nate's brain condition and having a child with another women, but not Brendas increasingly dangerous addiction to fooling around with strange men. David Fisher (Michael C. Hall) now openly gay is living in a multi-racial homosexual relationship with police officer Keith Charles (Matthew St. Patrick), and for a while the two were raising Keiths sisters young daughter (much to Keiths fathers chagrin) after her mother went to prison for vehicular manslaughter. Ruth Fisher(Frances Conroy) spent most of what was left from Nathaniel Sr.'s life insurance money to pay off her Russian boyfriend Nikolai's (Ed O'Ross) mob debts, an action that ultimately serves to drive that vastly entertaining couple apart. Claire Fisher's (Lauren Ambrose, watch her she's going to be big) drugie boyfriend disappears after he robs a convince store and later shoots a man, then the independent red-head briefly dates a far to well-adjusted 19 year old and decides to go to art school after spending time with her hippy aunt (Patricia Clarkson). Finally Federico Diaz (Freddy Rodriguez) the Fishers underapricated employee gets the seasons most moving flash back sequence, and he and his wife Vanessa come into some unexpected money after an elderly neighbor dies. Though the story lines are often outrageous the emotions and foibles of the characters are real, if often excessive in number. This program is not for the faint of heart and can be uncomfortably direct, but it is also very empathetic and honest and one of the strangest rides ever taken through television.

Best death this season: Tie-The Santa Claus in the motorcycle accident & buisnessman hit by falling lunch box from construction site.
Most moving death storyline: Tie- The middle-aged women who lived alone with no friends, and the 26 year old cancer victim.
Character I'll miss most: Tie- Claires High School guidance councilor and 'BoBo' elderly member of the independent funeral directores orginization.


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