Bloomberg News

Doomsday Killer Crams Corpse With Snakes; Jerry Lewis Mania: TV

December 20, 2011

Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) -- This season’s Bible-based plot of “Dexter” wasn’t much of a revelation. Even a gimmicky “Fight Club” twist couldn’t elevate the Doomsday Killer (Colin Hanks) into the show’s pantheon of memorable murderers.

Through much of the sixth season, Dexter (and viewers) believed a string of grisly murders inspired by the Book of Revelation to be the handiwork of two men: a loony theology professor (Edward James Olmos) and his weak-willed protege (Hanks).

Nine episodes in, the professor was revealed to be a figment of the student’s twisted psyche.

Hanks could then shake off his ho-hum demeanor and head for the nut-job heights of past “Dexter” creeps played by John Lithgow, Jimmy Smits and Christian Camargo.

The Doomsday murders were glum and sadistic: a corpse filled with snakes, a severed head attached to a manikin and saddled atop a horse. An early side plot featuring actor Mos Def as a streetwise preacher did little but burden Dex (the impeccable Michael C. Hall) with half-baked soul-searching.

The finale, which wasn’t available for review, is titled “This is the Way the World Ends.” Let’s hope not.

“Dexter” airs Dec. 18 on Showtime at 9 p.m. New York time. Rating: **1/2

Jerry Lewis

So what caused that falling out between Jerry Lewis and the Muscular Dystrophy Association last summer?

“Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis,” a career-spanning Encore documentary, doesn’t go there. Or anywhere else that might anger the prickly comedian.

“Method” is an early holiday gift for Lewis fans, who include the French, the young at heart and Lewis himself.

Slickly produced and directed by Gregg Barson, the documentary stitches together film clips, old and recent stage performances, new interviews, and paeans from celebrities including Jerry Seinfeld, Carol Burnett and Steven Spielberg.

“He’s like a mountain,” says actor and comic Richard Belzer, whose arm is tattooed with a Lewis caricature. “Some people get caught in the foot scales of him, but you have to scale the peaks to truly appreciate the phenomenon of Jerry Lewis.”

What?

Still, watching the Elvis-level reception of Lewis and partner Dean Martin in the 1950s is enjoyably mysterious.

“Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis” airs Dec. 17 on Encore at 8 p.m. New York time. Rating: **1/2

‘Architect and Painter’

The chair that changed America might not have been possible without the suffering of soldiers in World War II.

The connection between the furniture and the battlefield is a fascinating footnote in “Charles & Ray Eames: The Architect and the Painter,” a documentary debuting on PBS following a brief theatrical run.

The film is a fast-moving, visually pleasing crash course in both modernism and the couple who made it available -- and palatable -- to the masses.

Charles Eames and his wife Ray, who revolutionized American design from their studio in Venice, California, were an unlikely duo.

Battlefield Splints

He was a handsome architect-school dropout. She was “a painter who rarely painted,” described as a “dumpling” by a former underling. He loved science and black-and-white. She loved color and playful design.

“Eames,” narrated by James Franco, explains how Charles developed the contoured chair that revolutionized furniture design with its curvy lines and rejection of overstuffed fussiness. He only figured out how to bend plywood into that now-ubiquitous shell-shape after inventing a method for making battlefield splints.

The documentary, produced and directed by Jason Cohn and Bill Jersey, is cluttered yet incomplete. It rarely pauses to consider why the Eames designs transfixed America and why they’re still relevant today.

“Charles & Ray Eames: The Architect and the Painter” airs Dec. 19 on PBS at 10 p.m. New York time. Rating: ***

(Greg Evans is a critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

--Editors: Rick Warner, Jeremy Gerard.

To contact the writer on the story: Greg Evans at gregeaevans@yahoo.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff in New York at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.


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