Every job has its perks, and the big one traditionally enjoyed by newspaperfolk — a really nice obituary, well-played — is entirely in keeping with the job’s other rewards. That is, fairly useless. However, I think I’ve found another: Alan brought home a DVD, cadged off the TV writer, of the first five episodes of “Big Love,” HBO’s new dramedy about polygamy.
We watched three over the weekend. So far, it’s safe to say that while it’s not “The Sopranos,” it’s far better than I thought it would be, and like everything on HBO, I’m willing to give it a chance. These series tend to ripen very well, and if they have to hook you with the bizarre — a mob boss who sees a shrink! a funeral home with talking corpses! a cop show that bears a resemblance to reality! — that’s just the way these shows get it done. I think Daphne Merkin is a little tough on it here; I could see seeds of thoughtfulness planted throughout the first three episodes, and I think they’ll be bearing soon enough.
It’s interesting to see the contrast between Bill’s suburban home and the crazy backcountry polygamist compound he evidently was cast out of at 14 (as these compounds are wont to do — can’t have yearling studs competing with the ones with gray muzzles). And it’s interesting to see that the crazy place didn’t sour him on the concept of polygamy, just gave him a desire to do it better, which means a lot less dust, better furniture and a teenage son who’s still treasured. (Although it’s pretty obvious some sort of hookup between sonny boy and one of dad’s juicier sister wives is inevitable.)
*Tom Shales used this obvious wordplay in his Saturday preview of “Big Love,” but I feel free to use it because I thought of it first. Really!