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Archive for October, 2016

1tvhalloween_tzrLess is more in John Carpenter’s original, and back in 1978 this low-budget, horror/thriller came out of nowhere to scare the wits out of moviegoers (the first time I saw it, I was a high-schooler cowering in my seat at Seattle’s wonderful Cinerama). The story of Michael Myers returning home to terrorize several baby-sitters on All Hallows Eve launched Jamie Lee Curtis’ movie career and spawned way too many sequels, imitators and remakes, but remains a scary good time. 10 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31, on AMC.

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51zlwnf-onlImagine this: Two dear friends find 148 journals in a dumpster and bring them to you, suggesting that you would be the perfect person to dive in and discover what they are all about and (most important) who wrote them.

This is what happened to British biographer Alexander Masters (“Stuart: A Life Backwards“) back in 2001, and after many years of hesitation, he finally chose a random volume and opened it. Luckily for us, “A Life Discarded” turns out to be a multilayered mystery and an inspiring biography of a person who, if not for Masters, might have been lost to time.

The handwritten journals, which varied in size and color, were contained in three worn boxes, with no return address. The first words that Masters read were “Hope my diaries aren’t blown up before people can read them — they have immortal value.”

In a world of increasing technology and dwindling human interaction, it’s refreshing to follow Masters as he puts together the pieces of the diarist’s life. The biography is full of writing excerpts and drawings from the journals, my favorite being a list of the diarist’s birthdays from ages 13-62, describing the celebrations, gifts and emotions.

We follow Masters as he consults with handwriting experts and private investigators, burrows deep inside Cambridge libraries and conducts a Hardy Boys-like search for what could be the diarist’s former home.

As you may have noticed, I’m being very careful to not give away major revelations in the story (foremost, the name and sex of the author). The joy in reading “A Life Discarded” lies in the uncovering of this anonymous person’s life.

Masters has created a unique and special work that will appeal to amateur detectives, Anglophiles and lovers of humanity everywhere. Definitely worth a read.

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ceg202a_0031bIt’s so great to have Rebecca Bunch (Golden Globe-winner Rachel Bloom) and all her wacky West Covina friends back for a second season. Friday night seems like the perfect place for this musical/romantic comedy (and didn’t you just love last week’s song, “Love Kernels”?). Tonight, Rebecca tries to impress Josh with her Ping-Pong skills. 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, on The CW.

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51ufj7wybqlWhen the TV series “Twin Peaks” premiered back in 1990, it instantly struck a cultural nerve. All the water-cooler talk seemed to revolve around this moody, dark mystery set in a fictional Northwest town. In an era before bingeing and streaming, “Who Killed Laura Palmer?” became the question on everybody’s lips (she was the young woman who was found wrapped in plastic in the series premiere).

Then, seemingly as soon as it arrived, it was gone. Laura’s killer was identified, and after two brief seasons the series was canceled.

So, when it was announced that the series would return to television in 2017, fans rejoiced, but were armed with a lot of questions.

In his new book “The Secret History of Twin Peaks” (Flatiron Books, 368 pp., $29.99), Mark Frost (co-creator of the series, with David Lynch) attempts to bridge the gap between the old and new series, by putting the town and its residents in some sort of historical perspective and answering many of those questions. And he succeeds, mostly.

The book is presented in the form of a dossier, full of handwritten letters, secret government documents, photos, newspaper clippings and much more. The dossier was supposedly found at a recent crime scene that may have ties to the events of the original series and was compiled by a mysterious archivist. There are also notes and comments in the margins written by an FBI agent (known only as TP). If you haven’t already guessed, this is not a lighter-than-air beach read.

The first items in the dossier are excerpts from the journals of Lewis & Clark, dated 1805, who happened to be in the area that would become Twin Peaks. In subsequent chapters, the reader travels to Maury Island, Roswell (New Mexico), Hollywood, secret government hangars and even the White House. In fact, there’s so much talk of government conspiracies and UFOs, I felt like I was reading lengthy outtakes from a script for “The X-Files.”

The book works best when Frost returns to Twin Peaks and the familiar characters and places that first caught our attention: Agent Dale Cooper, the Log Lady, the Packards, Norma and Big Ed, Audrey Horne, the Great Northern Hotel. The book even contains a copy of the menu for the Double R Diner, home of that damn fine cup of coffee and delicious cherry pie.

If you weren’t a fan of the series, you could immerse yourself in “The Secret History of Twin Peaks” and maybe feel a little more prepared when the new episodes air in 2017. But if you are a fan, dive right in. The water is chilly and dark, and so are the thrills and delights Frost has waiting for you.

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Hey “Gilmore Girls” fans, did you see this new trailer?

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1tvwalkingdeadIs it Glenn? Maggie? Abraham?, or — heaven help us — Daryl? This zombie drama’s legions of fans have been waiting, and speculating, for six months as to which of the popular characters will meet their end tonight at the hands of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Star Andrew Lincoln said on a recent special that you probably shouldn’t watch the premiere alone. Season premiere, 9 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, on AMC.

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hamilton-2_tzrPBS’ “Great Performances” series takes a behind-the-scenes look at Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning, pop-culture juggernaut of a Broadway musical. Miranda talks about his process of creating the show and clips from the New York production are featured, as well as interviews with George W. Bush, Elizabeth Warren, Hank Paulson, Timothy Geithner, Questlove, Black Thought, Jimmy Fallon, John Weidman, Nas, Stephen Sondheim and President Barack Obama. 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, on KCTS.

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