That’s how much the FCC initially fined Bill Maher for lighting up a joint at the end of his latest militant advocacy of pot legalization on HBO’s “Real Time” 10 days ago.
At last report, his lawyers are ready, willing and able to do battle for both weed and Maher’s free expression of weed partisanship as the drug’s most visible proponent who isn’t named either Willie Nelson or Woody Harrelson.
If you’ve been watching a fair amount of TV in the past few Sweeps Weeks, Maher’s civil disobedience isn’t the only off-the-wall drug-taking that has hit television.
Nor is all of that the most surprising TV news to hit us during Sweeps. The news that this weekend’s “The Good Wife” will begin the countdown to the series’ finale is more depressing to me than the FCC’s attempt to prove itself relevant by fining Maher.
In other television drug-taking, last Monday’s next-to-last episode of the reawakened six “X-Files” had Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) taking some hallucinogenic mushrooms to allow him to enter the consciousness of a brain-damaged fellow in a coma.
Stay with me here. I’ll make it as clear as possible but it does indeed get wild and woolly from here on.
The hallucination caused by the mushroom was supposed to lead to needed information locked in the comatose fellow’s brain. But the hallucination also led to Mulder’s having hilarious visions of being in a Texas line-dance to Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart.”
And then, in a gloriously nutso “X-Files” mash-up of hallucinatory “reality” and metaphysical speculation, Mulder and Scully took a lovely walk hand-in-hand and talked about God.
“The whole thing has got me thinking about God,” said Mulder … . “The angry God of the Bible … the anger sure remains … What is this God saying? ‘Worship me in my great anger?’ ”
Scully replies: “Is this the sacred wisdom of your magical mystery tour?” Good question. I kind of wondered that myself.
If you missed the sudden hallucinatory Sweeps Week return of “The X-Files” on Fox, I’m afraid you’re going to have to say goodbye after Monday’s two-hour episode. What we heard this time around for Mulder and Scully is that they had a fictional child together but to protect the baby’s life, gave it up for adoption to a couple not otherwise swimming in paranoia. We also learned that “they” have always been here, not “out there” and seem always to have been in charge.
Details to be supplied Monday. And yes, the cigarette-smoking man will be back. I’m not sure if he’ll be smoking. Or what brand, if he is. It may even be some of Bill Maher’s weed, considering how crazy this Sweeps period has been.
You can catch up online with the new round of “The X-Files” episodes for the 21st century. As throwaway sacrilegious premises for junk TV go, I love this one, no matter how far its conception of a familiar deity strays from Mulder’s.
The idea here is that, as we all know (thank you John Milton), Lucifer was cast out of heaven by God to rule in hell. In the prime-time gospel of Jerry Bruckheimer and his crime series friends, this Lucifer got sick of hell and decided to take a vacation on earth – Los Angeles, to be specific – where he has a nightclub and falls in love with a beautiful cop who was once a starlet who appeared in a Phoebe Cates-style revelatory scene in a teen exploitation comedy.
Yes, this is junk TV fantasy – prime-time filler – but it’s worked out with such brazenly lunkheaded good cheer – as if it were a blood relative of ABC-TV’s “Castle” – that it’s crazily likable. The idea of a fed-up vacationing Satan is just dandy for prime time.
On “The Good Wife.”
Alicia Florrick is coming back to the old firm as a junior partner, it seems. If that strikes you as foolish, I’m with you. But then, we now know the series is in its lame-duck final period. And Mitch McConnell hasn’t recommended yet that every new plot development be delayed until a new series shows up. So we’re going to have to take all the closeout plot wrinkles as they come on “The Good Wife.” Place your bets now on whether Julianna Margulies’ and Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s characters have a sleep over and a nice nutritious breakfast the next morning.
My money’s on “yes.” And Gov. Peter can just wish them well.
On “Scandal” And “How To Get Away With Murder” Or “Thank God, It’s Thursday.”
There was trouble in Shondaland when Shonda Rhimes’ two popular shows came back from their seasonal three-month naps 11 days ago.
Initial ratings were down. That may have had something to do with the fact that ABC promotion was so shoddy that most people didn’t know they were coming back until Rhimes’ hot shows suddenly showed up.
Things weren’t so hot on Rhimes’ patented plot roller coaster in that first episode back. A lot of nasty and filthy maneuvering had been done to make Scott Foley as Jake the new head of the N.S.A. Meanwhile, Kerry Washington as Olivia had become awfully sanguine about being ultra-sinister Eli Pope’s daughter. After her abortion, her former lover President Fitz is waking up alone and driving his press secretary bats with 2 a.m. phone calls.
That Olivia and Eli are now on speaking – or rather barking and snarling – terms is due to the wonderful fact that Joe Morton, as Eli, has finally been promoted to a series regular. Expect many splendidly articulate tirades.
That’s all to the good – especially Morton’s promotion. So too is the nicely perverse plot wrinkle of having Olivia Pope now being Melly’s major adviser on her run for the presidency. “Scandal,” bless it, still has plots as explosive as the Bikini Atoll after World War II.
Unfortunately, “How to Get Away With Murder” didn’t seem to come back nearly as decisively or engagingly as “Scandal” has on its two episodes back in business.
Thereby hangs a tale: Rhimes recently wrote a big-selling autobiographical self-help book (“The Year of Yes”) and while doing so, it makes sense that she may have been absent from the kitchens of Shondaland a good deal more often than she was in past seasons.
The dishes created by others may have come out inadequately seasoned.
The whole problem on “Murder” may persist for weeks. In the meantime, I can’t help thinking that the hugely noticeable initial lack of promotion for the return of her shows may have been responsible for one ABC honcho losing his job and being replaced by the black female executive who, among other things, is often given credit for developing Shondaland’s head-bracing hits.
ABC, then, is obviously still fond of the way things happen in Shondaland. The minute they are no longer, the network may be in deep trouble.
The kind that’s even worse than you get into by lighting up a joint at midnight on HBO.