Roseanne rants, Paterno pouts, ‘Handmaid’ hurts and ‘Westworld’ whirrs

The character Roseanne supports Trump, and the actress Roseanne Barr supports him as well.

Roseanne (photo credit: COURTESY YES)
Roseanne
(photo credit: COURTESY YES)
The new season of the TV sitcom Roseanne is making headlines in the US for two reasons: The character Roseanne supports Trump, and the actress Roseanne Barr supports him as well.
If that fascinates you, you can see the show, which is on YES Comedy on Saturday nights at 9:30 p.m. and on YES VOD. I’m not a big fan of sitcoms and never enjoyed Roseanne, which always seemed like a liberal, well-educated, Hollywood insider’s view of working-class life and still does. It’s my feeling that Hollywood gets nearly everything wrong when it turns its attention to factory workers or people who wear name tags on the job, such as waitresses, store clerks, etc.
I always found Roseanne grating, and I still do. I always loved John Goodman on the show — or anywhere else he performs — and I still do. But don’t turn to this show for anything profound about the divisions in America in the Trump era.
Expectations were high for Paterno, the HBO movie, which is showing on HOT VOD and YES VOD. Directed by Barry Levinson (Diner, Rain Man) and starring Al Pacino in the lead role as Joe Paterno , it ought to be riveting TV.
It focuses on Paterno, the late Penn State football coach with the most wins college football, and his fall from grace after a scandal broke in 2011 when Jerry Sandusky, who had been one of the team’s coaches, was charged with multiple counts of child abuse, including raping children as young as 10 in the Penn State athletic facilities. Sandusky was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.
Paterno was beloved at Penn State and had an extraordinary personality cult, but the details of his downfall are commonplace. It’s not shocking that as the head of a multimillion-dollar college athletic program, he turned a blind eye to the crimes of his subordinate nor that he was driven by a single-minded focus on football and ignored his family. Sandusky is a minor player in this drama. It’s all about Joe Pa (as he was called) coming to grips with the heinous nature of the crimes he ignored.
Pacino is restrained to the point of being boring, although I imagine it’s an accurate portrayal of the coach.
Eighty-four when the scandal broke, Paterno is portrayed as borderline doddering, and at times it’s possible to believe that he doesn’t quite understand what is happening.
Levinson and his cast showed a similar colorless restraint in his previous HBO film, The Wizard of Lies, a retelling of the Madoff scandal starring Robert De Niro.
It’s time for Season Two of the extremely well done but relentlessly bleak and violent series The Handmaid’s Tale. It will be shown on HOT HBO starting on April 26 at 10 p.m. and on HOT VOD.
Since the previous season finished, this show, based on Margaret Atwood’s acclaimed novel, has won numerous awards, including the Golden Globe for Best Television Drama and the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. Elisabeth Moss, the actress who went from playing the president’s youngest daughter on The West Wing to Peggy, the secretary who becomes a writer on Mad Men, to Offred, a fertile woman doomed to be a sex slave/ surrogate mother in the dystopian future on Handmaid’s, won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for her performance here.
The gore and sadistic torture on this show is such that it is not for all. At times, it strikes me as a hysterical liberal college kid’s idea of what we’re heading for in the US, kind of like The Hunger Games but with pregnancy, while at other times it seems not so hysterical.
Season Two deals with a rebellion, so expect more dashed hopes and horrific, cruel interrogations.

Westworld
is also coming back. That show, which is about a reality Western theme park where the robots rebel, will be shown on April 23 on both HOT HBO and YES Oh at 4 a.m. and 10 p.m. and HOT VOD and YES VOD.

Westworld
seems to have invested a billion dollars on special effects and production design and about 10 cents on plot and character development. Season Two will focus on the female robots, who will have a #MeToo moment. Go, fembots!