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Reviewer reborn as village vidiot


I begged Boise Weekly editors for a long time for the opportunity to convert my weekly DVD review space into a column with slightly more diversified topics. My friends, they finally caved. And now that I have escaped from the narrow confines of home theater reviews into the world of visual entertainment at large, I would love to unveil a shockingly fascinating topic—but I think, for round one, I'll stick to what I know best: movies and television.

With my trips to the video store dwindling lately, I've been Netflixing (yes, that's now a legit verb) a lot more. And over the past year, I've used the service to maintain a "watch an exciting show on DVD while dying on the elliptical machine in the garage" regimen, meaning all I've been receiving in the mail lately are the first and second seasons of Alias. But when my fiancee requested a film she'd heard about in school, I had to move a documentary to the top of this week's queue.

"Holy preparedness for a bout of depression, Batman!" The Bridge is about the furthest thing from an ABC action show. It's a year-long look at people who committed suicide by hurling themselves off the Golden Gate Bridge. The mere thought inspired dread, but we found a quiet weeknight to throw it in the DVD player anyway. Color me surprised. The film was approached delicately, consisting mostly of interviews with family members of the people who plunged to their demise during 2004. One interviewee even tried it himself and survived. Yeah, a documentary on suicide makes for a macabre watch, but listening to the seemingly pointless reasons that drove these folks to the edge is an excellent alternative to counseling, reminding me for at least 90 minutes that even my darkest moments are pretty OK.

As for TV, I set the DVR to grab a bunch of shows debuting this spring. Most are less than redeeming but I really like Saturday Night Live alum Amy Poehler on NBC's new Office-esque comedy Parks and Recreation. And as insightful as I like to feel I am, the fiancee called out the show for feeling an awful lot like it's set right here in Boise. Evidence: a bankrupted condo developer leaves a gaping hole that elected officials try to turn into a park; and on government building walls, murals depict early settlers abusing Native Americans. Is this really a small town in Illinois, as the show's writers would have us believe? Judge for yourself. Just know that my sentiments were echoed loudly and clearly by other BW staffers I talked to.

In closing this installment, here's the deal going forward. I spend copious amounts of time on loads of poorly selected entertainment options as I'm sure many of you do, too. I therefore make this promise to you, BW reader: no matter how poor my selections are, I will discuss them with you, right here, at length. Don't worry, you won't have to thank me. I will simply take your silence to mean you concur and can't wait to read more.