And the Winner Is . . .

Mixed Media
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Award shows frustrate me. At the Oscars, the Grammys, and especially the Emmys, we have to wait far too long to hear who won “best comedy” or “best drama.” But it’s not the duration of the broadcast that bugs me. It’s that I have to wait till the end of the season just to find out who was nominated.

I have made a decision. As an independent “Tuned In” writer, I’m making my selections early. With creative license and a little research, I’ve developed my own categories and selected the winners from this year’s crop of television hopefuls. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the Banner’s Television Awards, which I’ll call “The Golden Bananers.”

THE SPIRIT AWARD goes to . . . Jennifer Love Hewitt. In her new show, “Ghost Whisperer,” Hewitt plays a woman who communicates messages from the dead to the living (think “The Sixth Sense” meets “Touched by an Angel”). CBS hopes a character who talks to the dead will draw a younger audience than last year’s now-canceled “Joan of Arcadia” (Joan talked only with God). CBS has high hopes for this drama, but I think it’s just “Medium.”

THE ATTACK OF THE CLONES AWARD goes to . . . unimaginative network executives. With the incredible success of the cliffhanger storyline and complex mysteries of the hit show “Lost”, the networks have crammed the fall schedule with mysterious monsters, aliens, and whatever they could find in the old “X-Files” prop room. ABC offers a bright hope in “Invasion,” a smalltown UFO drama. It’s also bringing back the show “The Night Stalker” about a crime reporter who tails the supernatural. Soon to disappear from the schedule is NBC’s “Fathom” (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea with babes and hunks) and “Threshold” (the Navy meets aliens), which is doomed by a Friday-night time slot.

THE CENSOR AWARD goes to . . . “The Shield,” “Deadwood,” and other shows in which the acting is great but the plots assault the viewer again and again.

THE “PASS THE HANKIE” AWARD goes to the strong, manly men starring in “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” who shed tears every episode. Come to think of it, so do I (sniff, sniff). NBC also has Bananer favorite Amy Grant hosting “Three Wishes,” a “Makeover” clone that’s sure to make us strong men show our sensitive sides.

THE PRESIDENTIAL AWARD goes to . . . the revitalized “West Wing.” Last season’s pairing of television veterans Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda as candidates vying to replace Martin Sheen as president brought new life to the ailing drama. Can you picture a Republican president ruling the television oval office? Sadly, ABC offers “Commander-in-Chief” with Geena Davis (A League of Their Own) as a desperate housewife with three children who also happens to be president. I hope Donald Sutherland, who also stars, will plan a coup d’etat.

THE “GLAD YOU’RE BACK” AWARD goes to . . . “The Amazing Race.” With a new trend of niceness pervading some reality shows, we’re glad that one of its grandfathers is doing so well. By reinventing itself this season with families of four competing, perhaps “Race” can now be better family viewing as well. Honorable mention goes to the medical drama “House,” in which veteran English actor Hugh Laurie dares the audience to both love and hate his emotionally broken character.

And finally . . . THE BLINK AWARD (for the new show that will come and go in a matter of minutes). Nominees include “E-Ring,” starring Benjamin Bratt in a Pentagon drama; “Inconceivable,” set at a family fertility clinic; and “The “Apprentice: Martha Stewart.” But the winner is “Freddie,” which stars Freddie Prinze Jr. as a bachelor who shares his pad with his extended female family. Bye-bye, Freddie. It’s time for Scooby Doo 3.

DVD

Crash

reviewed by Jennifer Parker

Crash zooms in on two intense days in the lives of a few “random” Los Angelenos to explore that most terrifying of questions in a race-fixated society: “Who is my neighbor?” Characters who could be labeled white, black, Latino, Korean, Iranian, cop, citizen, criminal, victim, good, bad, rich, poor, powerful, or marginal all find their lives colliding in ways that force them—and us—to reassess their labels. This well-orchestrated ethnic tangle includes, among others, an angry cop who blames affirmative action for life’s disappointments; two thugs who analyze societal ills between jacking cars; a political opportunist and his uptight, xenophobic wife; and an immigrant couple who prove that even those crashed into while minding their own business may not be innocent bystanders. Crash provides a God’s-eye view of flawed and frightened humanity responding to race, crisis, and what Flannery O’Connor called “the presence of grace,” powerfully and poignantly demonstrating the potential for the angelic—and its opposite—in all of us. (Lions Gate Films)

Social Issues

The End of Poverty

by Jeffery D. Sachs
reviewed by Jim Romahn

Two generations ago half of the world’s people lived in extreme poverty. Today the figure is less than 20 percent. Because of this decline, Jeffrey Sachs reasons we could completely eliminate extreme poverty (defined as living on less than $1 a day). Sachs urges rich countries to live up to their repeated promises, first made 35 years ago, to invest 0.7 percent of their gross national product in poverty elimination. Canada and the U.S. have never come close. Sachs says the U.S. share is about $50 billion a year, as compared to $450 billion spent on the military. One wonders whether aid might be more effective than warfare in countering terrorism that’s rooted in frustration, poverty, and despair. In September 2000 the United Nations signed on to the Millennium Development Goals, which Sachs helped to develop. (The CRC officially supports those goals through the Micah Challenge—for more information, see www.micahchallenge.org.)
(Penguin Press)

Picture Book

The Perfect Wizard: Hans Christian Andersen

by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Dennis Nolan
reviewed by Sonya Vanderveen Feddema

Hans Christian Andersen, born 200 years ago, was determined to become a writer against great odds. The story of his life—the influence of his superstitious mother and his literary father, his father’s death, the obstacles he faced in fulfilling his dream, and his eventual success as the author of more than 150 fairy tales—is lucidly articulated by master storyteller Jane Yolen. Including quotes from his fairy tales, Yolen shows young readers how Andersen’s life experiences shaped his fiction. Dennis Nolan’s beautiful illustrations capture both Andersen’s emotional struggles and the flavor of the historical period in which he lived.
(Dutton/Penguin)

CD

Rest

by Glen Soderholm
reviewed by Ken Bosveld

A hidden gem among Christian musicians, Glen Soderholm’s following is sure to widen on the strength of Rest, his third and most recent release. A worshiper at New Life CRC (Guelph, Ontario), this Presbyterian pastor’s seminary training is reflected in the depth of his songwriting. Soderholm’s voice is soothing but edgy enough to convey empathy for life’s struggles. Check out audio clips at www.glensoderholm.com. (Signpost)

Website

www.catapultmagazine.com

reviewed by Kelly Crull

For all who never tired of solving all the world’s problems in a dorm room at 2 o’clock in the morning, there’s no need to find a college campus to get your fix. Just visit catapultmagazine.com. More like an online living room than magazine, Catapult was started by graduates of Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa. Each themed biweekly issue is a discussion starter for people who want to engage their faith with culture.

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