Whale of a piece
I want to offer Sebastian Smee a quick round of applause for his wonderful, insightful “Frame by Frame” column about the painting “Whale and Calf” (“Sensing the pulse of an anonymous artist,” g, July 24). I share his enthusiasm for the Whaling Museum in New Bedford; I visited it after reading the book “Leviathan” and listening to an NPR interview with the author, Philip Hoare. Smee’s brief, poignant article made me scroll back up to the image at each paragraph to pick up on the things he noticed. Now I’m sorry I didn’t find this painting on my only visit to the museum!
Smee’s contributions have become a highlight of my daily perusal of the Globe. And I’m really glad I decided to spring for the digital subscription. Keep up the great work!
BOYD H. WINSLOW, MD
I really enjoyed Matthew Gilbert’s piece comparing great TV series to the canon of great literature (“Shelf Life,” Arts, July 15). A couple of things came to mind. First, the idea of a series “spawning” other series — taking the great characters from the original series and giving them their own shows — lends a great deal of credibility to the original series. A couple of examples would be how “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” gave birth to “Phyllis,” “Rhoda,” etc. and “All in the Family” gave birth to “The Jeffersons,” “Archie Bunker’s Place,” etc.
Also in one series, the characters changed over time but the series didn’t miss a beat. I’m speaking, of course, of “M*A*S*H,” where B. J. Hunnicutt replaced “Trapper” John McIntyre, Sherman Potter replaced Henry Blake, and Charles Winchester replaced Frank Burns. Of course Alan Alda as “Hawkeye” Pierce was the constant through all of the changes and was intrinsic to the overall quality of the show. And in many episodes, you didn’t know if you were going to laugh or cry. These things made “M*A*S*H” one of the best series ever.
But where’s Kiefer Sutherland and “24”? Even though you always knew what the final outcome would be for each of the show’s “stories,” it was still an unbelievably great series that used the cliffhanger to its nth degree.
My only regret is that because my wife and I have never really had the pay channels like HBO as part of our TV watching agenda, we missed many of these shows that Gilbert highlighted. I guess it’s time for us to buy those CD box sets for what we’ve been missing and wait for that proverbial “rainy day” to catch up on everything.
I am amazed that Matthew Gilbert can list so many TV programs! I loved “All in the Family,” “The Honeymooners,” and a couple of others. But I went through many periods of life when I didn’t have time to watch TV, and I never saw the majority of shows Gilbert named.
Since I’m mainly retired, I’ve been watching a lot of TV in the last three years. I love “Friends” and cannot imagine why he didn’t mention it. In its best episodes, I find myself thinking, “This is the very center of our culture, focused on the struggles to find love by three women and three men at about 30 years of age.” I used to like Shakespeare best, but now I find his major works (mostly tragedies) too depressing to watch. Please wake up and watch a few episodes of “Friends”!
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