Friday, December 04, 2009

My favorite Dharma

There always seems to be a raging debate whenever I bring up Jenna Elfman. As you know, I'm a fan. Here's an example of why; an episode I directed her in. I think she's very funny, regardless of what whacko religion she believes in.

Of the DHARMA & GREGS I directed (helmed, megged), this is my favorite. A truly novel idea for a story. It was also fun going to San Francisco and filming the crowd scene. I had scaffolding and a hundred extras and sixty-two guys on walkie-talkies. Now THAT'S what I call directing!





41 comments :

Tim W. said...

Personally, I couldn't give a crap what a person does in their private life (for the most part). Any religion is a little wacky to me. As for Dharma and Greg, I was surprised at how quickly that show went from a big hit to disappearing.

karenranney said...

I loved Dharma and Greg. I think Jenna Elfman is a brilliant actress (and the scripts were great!)

I haven't yet transitioned to Thomas Gibson as an FBI guy on Criminal Minds, however. He's always Greg in my mind. I thought he was a fine comedic actor but just frowning doesn't convert comedy to drama.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

It's not a wacky religion, it's a dangerous, corrupt cult. I won't knowingly support a member of that cult no matter what their alleged talents might be.

Debby G said...

Yeah, scientology is a for-profit pyramid-scheme scam, not a religion.

sephim said...

It just goes to show you exactly how good a show like Dharma & Greg was when the comments here so quickly turned into a damnation of Scientology.

I have said before that Scientology does have one positive aspect - those who join must cut all ties with people who aren't Scientologists. Certainly makes it less work for me.

D. McEwan said...

Once you grasp that ALL religions are crackpot scams and cults, it becomes easier to ignore the religions of actors. After all, you are otherwise stuck watching only shows and films with all-atheist casts. Not a lot of all-atheist casts around.

I mean, come on. As pyramid scams go, can you top Catholicism, which held Western Civilization in the Dark Ages for a 1000 years, and burned at the stake anyone who refused to buy their bull? They also turned out a particularly nasty little Catholic schmuck named Adolf Hitler, whose Nazi army included the current pope in its ranks. Scientology is small potatoes next to that. You going to refuse to watch anything with any Catholic in the cast? Good luck watching anything.

The trick is to avoid watching religious programming.

Do I find Scientology odious? Yes. Do I watch Jenna Elfman in stuff? Yes. I loved DHARMA & GREG, and I've been watching her new show, which, while flawed to put it mildly, does feature a hot young leading man who is shirtless in almost every episode. I know what I worship.

That said, I do tend to avoid anything starring Mormons, because portions of what they make doing a show gets tithed to fighting gay rights across the country. Unfortunately, my dad was born in Salt Lake City, and his side of the family are all Mormons, so I've been putting up with those crazies all my life. (Dad rejected that church in his teens, just as I did in my teens with the nutjob church I was raised in: Christian Science. Lovely people. They let their kids suffer and die rather than call a doctor.)

I know Scientology is a very anti-gay religion also, but they didn't organize and fund big anti-gay marriage campaigns way my Mormon relatives and their evil church did. So I will go on watching Jenna. And while I tend to avoid John Travolta movies, and see very few Tom Cruise films, it's because I can't stand THEM, not because of their religious delusions.

Just remember, there's no such thing as a good church.

Jennifer F. said...

Karenranney-
Funny, it was the opposite for me. I saw Criminal Minds first, then caught Dharma and Greg on DVD and syndication and it took me quite a few episodes to buy Thomas Gibson as a comedic actor rather than my favorite deadpan FBI agent. I suppose once a character is established in your head it's hard to get them out.

I agree, that was a great episode though.

LastWordist said...

I agree it is true Elfman can be fine - in a supporting role. She didn't move too far though, doesn't carry a show or film, and the sell-by date for actresses doing the same is harsh (although often justifiably so). I just think she belongs to a certain school of interchangeable tv blonde-acting, modifed by the degree she's cultivated a cute smile and willing to do "wacky". I've watched "Dharma and Greg" due to being stuck with nothing else on tv and see no chemistry. It seems there are only wacky antics trying to fill the dead space of the scripts "relationship". "The Nanny" is realism in comparison.

I think it easily works to watch a show without thinking of a person's religion. But when eccentricities turn into oddly stated intolerant positions shaped by one's faith-group mindset, and a star-career offers them a platform, or justification for impressionable younger people ... why not have a vocal opinion about that as well?

Especially when so much time was given those people (in the media of course) to espouse what are simply ill-informed scripts coming from belief in a half-baked doctrine rather than allowed to openly think - Tom Cruise on anything in the last years, but especially on psychologists, psychiatry, homosexuality, autism, post-partum depression, medicine, and so on the list is really long actually.

If you want to apply the same to religions more extreme variants, be my guest.

One Jay Leno Tonite show anectdote - I recall when John Travolta was on, during the Clinton years, and he mentioned on air that he tried to speak to Pres. Clinton about a "human rights issue" in Germany i.e. by which he meant Scientology not being accepted as a religion there. That was his example of the "human rights" issue to talk to our President about - and thankfully Leno immediately squashed that line of conversation and went to the next. Magnify Travolta's attempt there to insert some of his religion in where he knows it's not on the script, to their whole program in general. In America, you start in the entertainment field, and move through education and social programs, and if necessary use politics.

Maybe it is because I was in high school in the mid 70s and watched many of these cults (Moonies as well)in rawer form, and going after people. Scientology was not nice to watch happen to someone. They've done alot of p.r. work (thanks Hollywood) to get some self-respecting sheen but those of us who were living then can recall what a cult was and is. It isn't leaving a good feeling when you watch people try to get out.

So I think one can be mindful of the path it takes through entertainment culture, especially where money plays a forceful role in Hollywood (the way Will Smith tries to cling to a demographic power by accomodating their "education" methods in his school comes to mind.. )

Elfman has been a public figure, done the round of gossip-rags documenting her ranting on the street at certain people using sciento-catchphrases... and looks bonkers.

But sure, I can watch a program and not care and judge that way. I still watch "Mad Men" too. Never could justify "That 80s show" though. I do think, "the Simpsons" got too many heavy-handed scripts at one point precisely due to the weight of "Bart's voice", which is acknowledged openly really.

But if they are funny I can laugh too - because that's the combination of more than just the actor I am laughing at - it's a script, ensemble, director, even laugh-track, etc...

I just think today there are other programs on as well.

Roger Owen Green said...

I always had an irrational affection for Dharma & Greg, perhaps because, quite by accident, I discovered the Chuck Lorre secret message after the very first show.
I was going to watch the premiere in real time, but then I got a phone call. So I taped it on my VCR, and watched it immediately afterward. And I said, "What the heck was THAT?" Called up the local newspaper guy, who wrote about it, and his story was published a couple weeks before the phenomenon was reported in Entertainment Weekly.

But yeah, it did fall apart quickly.

WV: untop. The fall of any Jenna Elfman series.

Paddy O'Furniture said...

Also a Dharma & Greg fan. Big unrelated news:
www.ChiTownSmoothJazz.com is playing all Hannukkah music all the time.

Says reporter Bob Feder: Billed as “the first radio channel in the world devoted entirely to the wonderful music surrounding the Festival of Lights,” the “Smooth Hanukkah” online stream is the brainchild of Rick O’Dell.

“I’ve been playing Christmas music on the air since the early ’80s,” O’Dell said. “Every year I get requests for songs pertaining to Hanukkah. Trouble is, we never had enough Hanukkah music in a contemporary vein — until now. The marriage of smooth jazz and Hanukkah has been nothing short of remarkable. In many cases, the result is simply entrancing.”

Doug said...

I like Jenna Elfman the actress just fine (not to mention former dancer, great legs - which I guess I just mentioned). She recently did a guest starring stint on "TWO AND A HALF MEN" as a whack-job and performed very well...

...but "DHARMA AND GREG" was just plain dull.

Legs or not.

VP81955 said...

“I’ve been playing Christmas music on the air since the early ’80s,” O’Dell said. “Every year I get requests for songs pertaining to Hanukkah. Trouble is, we never had enough Hanukkah music in a contemporary vein — until now. The marriage of smooth jazz and Hanukkah has been nothing short of remarkable. In many cases, the result is simply entrancing.”

A Hanukkah music channel...devised by someone named O'Dell. Amazing, isn't it?

Debby G said...

D. McEwan, Scientology differs from every religion in that it makes its adherents and anyone else pay money to learn its teachings. As you probably are aware, scientologists pay to get to each of many levels, and at each level more information is revealed about the "religion."

While I wish the Catholic church in general had done more to fight the Holocaust, just as I wish the American government had done more to fight the Holocaust (e.g., not turning away boats full of Jews fleeing the Nazis), to imply that Hitler was Catholic and therefore Catholics caused the Holocaust is going way too far. Plus, I thought Hitler was an atheist or agnostic?

I try not to support causes or people I find heinous. I won't pay for Woody Allen movies because I don't want that creep making any money off me. (Plus, these days his movies kind of suck.) And I prefer not to give Scientologists money that they may use to support the cult. I also wouldn't want to support a company owned by a Mormon because the Mormon church was a huge supporter of Prop 8. I wouldn't buy a Chris Brown album either. I think it's okay to draw a line for yourself and say there are a few things that are so objectionable to you personally that you choose not to support them in any way.

Anonymous said...

McEwan wanted to prove Godwin's Law as quickly as possible, regardless of speciousness. I wonder if the presence of Scientology on a web thread speeds up the process where Hitler inevitably gets thrown out there.

Nat G said...

Any society that demands sanity and conformity from its artists is going to have weak art indeed.

And for those who didn't like D&G, I'll have yours.

Mary Stella said...

I don't consider someone's religion or political affiliation when deciding what shows to watch.

I even have friends who are Republicans.

I loathe animal abuse but my favorite football team signed Vick so I even have to deal with that every Sunday and hope that he really IS sorry and promising not to do it again while giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to dog rescue organizations.

I always liked Dharma and Greg. For those of you having difficulty accepting Gibson as an FBI agent now, think of us who had to adjust to Alan Rachins playing a pony-tailed, aged hippy when we were used to him as uptight, lawyer Douglas Brackman on L.A. Law.

Kirk Jusko said...

Adolf Hitler was baptised a Catholic. Whatever athiestic or agnostic sentiments he may have expressed in private, he never publicly disavowed the religion. And Pope Pius never excommunicated him. None of which means the Pope condoned the Holocaust. But for whatever reason, he did seem to look the other way.

D. McEwan said...

Debby G said...
D. McEwan, Scientology differs from every religion in that it makes its adherents and anyone else pay money to learn its teachings.


I have never encountered a religion that didn't have its hand out. I was given a quarter each Sunday by my folks when growing up to "give" to the Christian Science Sunday School to pay for having my mind washed.

to imply that Hitler was Catholic and therefore Catholics caused the Holocaust is going way too far.

I am not "implying" that Hitler was a Catholic. I am STATING it. I did not say "Catholics caused the Holocaust." I said A Catholic caused the holocaust.

Plus, I thought Hitler was an atheist or agnostic?

Then you don't know squat about Hitler. He was a Catholic. (Not a lot of Anti-Semetic atheists. You have to believe there was a "Jesus" to give a rat's ass about some people allegedly "killing" him.)

Correcting people who KNOW the facts with what you "think" the facts are is a certain way to expose your ignorance.

Debby G said...

D. McEwan, chill. Ranting is unbecoming. It's actually unclear what religion Hitler was, if any. See, for instance, http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/mischedj/ca_hitler.html Catholics, atheists, and agnostics are all loath to claim him for their tribe, which is a good thing.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

You're right, Doug, that all religions pass the plate and some are more odious than others in their tin cup rattling, but it's still voluntary on the part of the parishoners. $cientology demands money--nothing they offer is free. Nor am I aware of any good works by them (aid for the poor, for example) and they abhor charity. My feelings towards them are like yours toward the Mormons, multiplied 100 fold. This whole Hitler/Catholics line is beside the point.

Jerad said...

Thanks D. M. for sharing your views, As to Debbie's website she seems to be viewing it through the Dunning-Kruger effect. Honestly that doesn't matter what one person did has no reflection on a religion as a whole. otherwise Catholics would universally have to be prosecuted as pedophiles.

I'm a fan of Jenna because of the way she's treated extras. of course I guess in the context of this thread I must say I think she'd as bat-shit insane as any other believer of the supernatural.

Rock Golf said...

How's about a comment with no connection to religion: What did ABC think of one of their shows providing a half-hour commercial for the finale of Seinfeld?

Nora said...

I'm so glad laugh tracks are more or less gone.

D. McEwan said...

Debby G said...
D. McEwan, chill. Ranting is unbecoming.


Then don't rant. I was not ranting. Just calmly correcting your error.

It's actually unclear what religion Hitler was,

No it isn't, though there's a Vatican full of folks who want you to think so.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...
You're right, Doug, that all religions pass the plate and some are more odious than others in their tin cup rattling, but it's still voluntary on the part of the parishoners. $cientology demands money--nothing they offer is free.


No, it's still voluntary, in the sense that, you can walk on by. They've never gotten a penny out of me.

My feelings towards them are like yours toward the Mormons, multiplied 100 fold. This whole Hitler/Catholics line is beside the point.

It's not beside the point I was making. And trust me, I loathe Scientology every bit as much as you do. I was once in love, very deeply so, back in college, with a young man who, when a job took him to another city in another state for 6 months, returned a Scientologist, and they took him away from me - that whole cut-all-ties-with-non-believers thing. I have not seen nor heard from him in 34 years, and I will curse the L. Ron Hubbardites for that until I die.

thomas tucker said...

Wow- who would have thought that D. McEwan would prove to be so intolerant and incapable of reasoned thought on a topic!
All you have to do to see it is to pull his chain.
That's really unattractive, I must say.

thomas tucker said...

I mean, seriously, maligning the Catholic Church becasue Hitler was baptized Catholic as an infant?
WTF!
btw, I loved Dharma and Greg until it took a dark turn with their break-up at the end. THat seemed like a real mistake for a TV comedy.
wv: ravatint- A new hair coloring product that will make you look ravishing.

D. McEwan said...

thomas tucker said...
Wow- who would have thought that D. McEwan would prove to be so intolerant and incapable of reasoned thought on a topic?


Intolerance has been Catholicism's stock-in-trade since they first rose to power in the 4th Century by murdering anyone in Europe they could manage who refused to sign on. Yet they love to accuse others of it when their own is pointed out. As for reasoned thought, that is just what I do employ, and just what Catholicism, and all other religions, but in the West, it is Catholicism that is the biggest wholesale offender, has always done it's best to repress. In the world of Catholic dogma, reason has nothing to do with it.

I mean, seriously, maligning the Catholic Church becasue Hitler was baptized Catholic as an infant?
WTF!


Well there is also the Inquisition, the Dark Ages, the repression of birth control leading to further overpopulation and the spread of AIDS, the meddling in politics, the suppression of learning, the forcing of Galilao to recant, the current ex(he claims)-Nazi pope, and so very much else it has to answer for. It has been a consistent force for evil for 1500 years.

But again, my point was that large churches are just as evil as small ones. All religion is evil. The, I'm assuming Catholics, have just focussed on just my pointing out of Hitler's being Catholic, something there seems to be a large amount of denial about.

That's really unattractive, I must say.

Good thing then that I am not trying to attract you.

thomas tucker said...

Wow. Very witty.
Where did you learn the comic book version of history?

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

My point, Doug, is that you can go to most real churches and sit through a service for free, get absolution for free, perhaps attend Sunday school for free, etc. No so with $cientology. If you want to do one of their courses or get auditing you pay and pay dearly the price they dicate. That's not tithing in my book, that's commercialism.

And, and there's good news for you folks who don't mind about what someone does away from the lights and camera--Osama Bin Laden is opening a great standup act in Vegas this Christmas. Should be a blast.

D. McEwan said...

"thomas tucker said...
Wow. Very witty.
Where did you learn the comic book version of history?"


Where did you learn the Catholic fairy tale version of history? Parochial school, or from Bill Donahue's talking points sheet? (I'm supposed to believe that your "That's really unattractive, I must say." and Debby G's: "chill. Ranting is unbecoming." are just coincidences, and not Bill Donahue's Catholic Anti-Reality League's recommendations for discrediting those who confront you with The Truth?)

Cap'n Bob, the Scientologists are welcome to charge whatever they want for their indoctrinations. They'll never get a penny from me, and it saves the poor from them altogether. Any one foolish enough to pay to have their mind laundered will at least get their money's worth of brain-washing.

But what is "voluntary" for Mormons about their having to tithe 10% of their income to that church? It's Mormon income tax.

If we'd just tax all the churches at the same rate we tax other businesses, we could end out national debt, and still reduce or even eliminate federal income tax altogether. Want to end the financial hole America's in? Tax the churches.

Debby G said...

D. McEwan, by advising you not to rant, I wasn't attempting to suppress "The Truth." Your opinion is your truth, not The Truth. I wish you'd realize that. And expressing your opinion with intelligent and courteous debate is much more effective than ranting.

KEN LEVINE said...

On World War II blogs do they debate DHARMA & GREG? I love a good debate but you kids play nice.

Roger Owen Green said...

As Pilate says in Jesus Christ Superstar - taken from the Bible - "We both have truths. Are mine the same as yours?"

thomas tucker said...

There is an adage that I have read: Scratch an atheist, find a fundamentalist. I think we see that illustrated here.
Seriously, DM, when two or more people on a not-very-long comment thread recommend that you chill out, it's probably a good idea to step back and take stock.
In the meantime, I'll shut up myself.
Merry Christmas (and Happy Holidays for the non-Christians.) :)

wv:lomopin- what you are when you are really feeling down

D. McEwan said...

Debby G said...
D. McEwan, by advising you not to rant, I wasn't attempting to suppress "The Truth." Your opinion is your truth, not The Truth. I wish you'd realize that. And expressing your opinion with intelligent and courteous debate is much more effective than ranting.


I have not ranted, nor have I been unintelligent nor discourteous. The only personal mudslinging came from Mr. Tucker. Again with the Big Lie defense. Calling me discourteous doesn't make it so. That's "your truth not The Truth."

thomas tucker said...
There is an adage that I have read: Scratch an atheist, find a fundamentalist.


Typical of the lies spread about atheists by the credulous and deluded.

Seriously, DM, when two or more people on a not-very-long comment thread recommend that you chill out, it's probably a good idea to step back and take stock.

Depends on who the two are, and what their agenda is. When the topic of Katherine Heigl gets brought up, there's usually an army of defenders of her, but so what?

Actually, given the millions of Catholics in America, I'm surprised there has only been two posters determined to shut me down.

Thomas Tucker said...

Yes, DM, the two of us were specifically
sent here by the Vatican to silence you.
It is our sacred mission and if we fail we'll
spend an extra 100 years in Purgatory.
Bill Donahue is our handler and has personally
targeted you for elimination from the
blogosphere lest you entice too many people
to the cause of atheism by your persuasive
arguments and joviality.
Okay now I'll shut up since I just compromised
our mission.

Debby G said...

I'm Jewish.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I'm no fan of Mormonism, either, Doug. And I'm with you on taxing the churches.

Thomas Tucker said...

Oh, Debby, does the Pope know that?
That's going to be more than 100 years in
Purgatory!

thomas tucker said...

btw, Debby- that truly was a great, and simple, punch line after my penultimate post ("I'm Jewish.") I could just imagine the studio audience laughter after that delivery!

wv: zingle - the feeling your mouth gets after drinking fizzy water

Craig Russell said...

I think it's too bad Jenna Elfman is being hung out to dry on a show like Accidentally on Purpose. Most shows start with a basic theme (Fraiser goes to Seattle after leaving behind Cheers, Richie and Potsie are friends on Happy Days, etc) but are not forced into a corner like Accidentally on Purpose. The premise is very limiting without making drastic changes in the second season.

When Rachel has her baby on Friends at the end of the season, the next season picks up right where the last one left off...will that be the case when Jenna has her baby at the end of the season? (and you KNOW thats how this season will end...VERY predictable)
Does she stay in SF and go back to work at the paper, and the kid becomes an afterthought, or do new Mommy, Daddy and Baby move to Omaha and start a new life?

Just think a vehicle for Matthew Perry as a dad raising a 14 yr old daughter and having an ex sister-in-law to come help out has far more long-term potential than Accidentally on Purpose (And Matt could make his comeback to TV, a-la Charlie Sheen)

I'm just sayin'

Craig