In this week’s episode of “The Gilded Age,” Agnes warns another character that a man who seems nice is actually an “adventurer.”

The meaning is clear enough from context: He’s no good. Watch out.

But I vaguely remembered that “adventurer” had a specific meaning in the Gilded Age, and it’s been bugging me since we watched the show Wednesday night. I finally looked it up on Merriam-Webster this morning, and found this as the second definition of adventurer: “somewhat old-fashioned : one who seeks unmerited wealth or position especially by playing on the credulity or prejudice of others.” Which is, clearly, exactly what Agnes intended to say.

I enjoyed the second episode of “The Gilded Age” even more than the first and felt guilty about it so at the end I shouted “THEIR CAPITALIST BLOOD WILL FLOW LIKE WATER TO FERTILIZE THE SOIL OF THE PROLETARIAT!!” and I felt better.

“The Gilded Age”

We watched the opening episode of “The Gilded Age” yesterday. It’s been getting negative reviews online. Ignore those reviews. If you liked “Downton Abbey,” you’ll enjoy “The Gilded Age.”

Such a great cast! Three particular stand-outs from an all-around terrific line-up: Christine Baranski is playing another tough, smart, older, aristocratic woman, which is a kind of role she specializes in. And Cynthia Nixon is a meek spinster, a very different role for her from “Sex and the City.”

And of course show is visually gorgeous.

The show is unabashedly un-progressive, which bothered me in the weeks before. I thought: Do we REALLY need a show about how great rich white people are, given the historical moment we live in today? But my reservations disappeared while we watched, because it’s such a good, and good-hearted show. I encourage separating one’s politics and entertainment; it makes life more pleasant. Watch “The Gilded Age” in the evening, and donate to and volunteer for the progressive cause of your choosing—Black Lives Matter, Planned Parenthood, the Democratic Party, whatever.

And the show manages to sneak in progressivism around the edges. One character is gay, and of course, closeted. Women are clearly operating within the confines of their gender roles.

And in a pleasantly surprising move—sorry if this is a spoiler—there is not only a major Black character, but she seems to be a member of the historical Black upper class, which is not a group we see represented much on TV, so nice move there.

Rewatching M*A*S*H

A friend said he’d recently rewatched all of M*A*S*H, including the two spinoffs–AfterMASH and W*A*L*T*E*R. For some reason, that intrigued me, so I decided to do the same. So far, I’m 2.5 episodes in, so it’ll be a while.

Overall, the show still holds up quite well, once you adjust your head back to the 70s mindset. The laughtrack is annoying, but I quickly rediscovered the knack out to tune it out.

The video quality on Paramount+, where the show is now available for streaming, is amazingly good. I strongly suspect digital shenanigans to clean up the images.

The video quality is so good it’s downright distracting watching it on the 55-inch TV in the living room. Instead, it’s better enjoyed on my iPad, to re-create the experience of watching it on a 1970s TV.

Another way you have to adjust your brain is for the behavior of the doctors toward women. Their 1970s’ charming behavior looks like today’s sexual harassment.

Also, race: There’s a Black doctor in the pilot episode–to my knowledge he never reappears–nicknamed “Spearchucker.” At least in the books, the gag is that the character is both a brilliant surgeon AND a former star college football player, so clearly the name is intended to ridicule racism, rather than embrace it. Still, it does not go over well today, and the character does not put in another appearance in the series that I can recall, though he’s mentioned at least once.

I feel like talking about gender, race, and video quality are not very interesting, but that’s all I have to say at the moment.

I recall stopping watching the show a couple of years after Frank Burns and other original stars left and were replaced, and the show began to get critical acclaim. I felt like it had gotten holier-than-thou.

Also, I remember the generation younger than mine did not care for the show. They said the characters talked about how war is hell, but they always seemed to be having a great time, like summer camp for grownups. That criticism has a lot of merit. I remember one episode even had a singalong.

Al Bundy as a coke dealer, and other appearances of then-famous and before-they-were-famous actors on “Miami Vice.”

“Miami Vice” guests included Julia Roberts and Chris Rock; babyface Ben Stiller playing a small-time conman, Fast Eddie Felcher; and Steve Buscemi already fully formed as Steve Buscemi. And musicians took acting turns too, including Little Richard, Leonard Cohen, Phil Collins, James Brown, Miles Davis, Gene Simmons (even more grotesque not wearing the makeup than wearing it) and Frank Zappa.

Thread

Today I learned that “HIll Street Blues” star Daniel J. Travanti appeared in an episode of “Lost in Space.”

Here’s Travanti in costume on “Lost in Space:”

And Travanti’s “Hll Street” co-star, Veronica Hamel, was a model in the last cigarette commercial that aired on TV in the US, for Virginia Slims, in 1971.

Here’s the commercial.

There’s so much going on in that commercial, and so much of it is wrong, and it’s wonderful. Veronica Hamel is dressed in full hippie regalia and she’s smoking. Literally and figuratively.