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January 09, 2002 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-01-09

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, January 9, 2002


T_ . .-- ----- -- -

~T -:N

Letterman, ra, among
top ten TV series of 2001

Viviano gives an
intimate glimpse of
Sicily in new book

By Christian Smith
Daily Arts Writer
Two-thousand-one was quite a year for the
entertainment industry. After the tragic attacks of
September 11, it seemed that nothing could be
less important than how many people watched
"Inside Schwartz" on a Thursday night. The
Emmys, sporting events and the entire fall televi-
sion season were postponed. But slowly and sure-
ly, America came back strong. Ellen DeGeneres
delivered on Emmy's third try and a slew of
promising new shows debuted. In a year where it
was difficult to put together a list of the best
music, and some of the year's best films have yet
to see a national release, it was the paramount
images of television that captured our emotions,
our sentiments and our most of all, our hearts.
Here are my choices for the top ten television
shows of 2001:
1. The Late Show with David Letterman
(CBS) - Even before September 11, Letterman
was at the top of his game, ranting about any-
thing and everything that came to mind. But after
the tragedy, he not only paved the way for other
comics to be funny again, his emotional return
gave others the strength to move on and put a
collective smile on the face of a grieving nation.
Along the way, he also provided us with priceless
Taliban jokes and introduced us to the "Oprah
Log." Despite losing in overall ratings to Jay
Leno, Dave manages to trump him creatively
night after night.
2. Ed (NBC) - The second season of this
NBC dramedy has proved to be just as entertain-
ing and heartwarming as the first. In addition to
building a solid audience on its own, it also leads
off Wednesday night's powerhouse lineup, along

with "The West Wing" and "Law & Order."
Sharp wit and quirky banter aside, this is perhaps
the finest ensemble cast on television, aided by
the addition of John Slattery as Stuckeyville
High School's new principle. Audiences can
never get enough of Ed and Carol's flirtatious
exchanges, leaving us wondering if they are ever
going to get together.
3. Friends (NBC) - After a sloppy and
uneven seventh season, the NBC powerhouse is
back on top both creatively and in the ratings,
consistently finishing as the top show of the
week. Rachel's pregnancy, perhaps the television
story of the year, has provided the show with a
much-needed boost, and given new life to the
tired Ross/Rachel relationship. And Chandler is
funny again, too.
4. The Sopranos (HBO) - The mob opus'
third season continued to deliver as the most
powerful and unforgiving show on television.
Highlighted by Joe Pantoliano's performance as
Ralphie, the disturbingly cruel and violent dis-
posal of his stripper "girlfriend" was possibly the
most captivatingly repulsive scene television has
ever seen. Unconventional, unexpected and rife
with Emmy-worthy performances, this is drama
at its best.
5. Everybody Loves Raymond (CBS) -
Ranking second among sitcoms to "Friends,"
Raymond is still increasing its ratings after four
years on the air. Plus, this dysfunctional family
sitcom continues to find new viewers with its
recent syndication launch. Along with "Sur-
vivor," "CSI" and "The King of Queens," it has
helped CBS claim the title as the No. 1 network.
6. Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO) - "Sein-
feld" creator Larry David plays himself as a
petty, stubborn and ridiculously rich bald Jew in

Courtesy of CBS
Hey, would you like to buy a monkey?
this largely improvised HBO cult series. Refusing
to accept some of the more pointless rules of eti-
quette, David brilliantly butchers societal norms
and does what he wants, whenever or wherever
he wants to, no matter how stupid he looks in the
7. Scrubs (NBC) - It came as no surprise
that this was the first new show to get a full-sea-
son order. Easily the funniest new show of the
season; Zany antics, charming characters and
endlessly clever sight gags are all rolled into one
witty, inventive and surprisingly touching med-
ical comedy. Finally audiences have a reason to
put the remote down after "Frasier." If only we
could say the same for the post - "Friends" slot.
8. James Dean (TNT) - Relative newcomer
James Franco gives an affecting performance as
the titular icon in this made-for-TV-movie.
Besides the physical resemblance, Franco gets
under the skin of the insecure Dean, impeccably
capturing the enigmatic star's tragically short
life. Ultimately, the film is a beautiful portrait of
a misunderstood American idol.
9. 24 (FOX) - This full-throttle thriller is
sure to keep viewers on the edge of their seats,
thanks to its inventive real-time structure. Taking
place over the course of one eventful day in the
life of Kiefer's Sutherland's CIA agent Jack
Bauer, there is so much going on here that even
Dan Rather would be confused. If you haven't
been watching already, good luck keeping up.
10. Undeclared (FOX) - Proving that the
criminally underappreciated and prematurely
canceled "Freaks and Geeks" was by no means a
fluke, producer Judd Apatow returned with this
hilarious portrayal of college life. Kudos to
standout Charlie Hunnam as Lloyd for somehow
making cutting British wit equal parts smarmy
and endearing.

By Caitlin Friedemann
For the Daily
"Domenico Valenti." This name is
whispered. to foreign correspondent
Frank Viviano by his grandfather the
night before he
dies. This turns
out to be the
name of
BlOOd Viviano's great-
Washes great-grandfa-
Blood ther's killer and
Viviano sees it as
Frank Viviano the key to
Grade: A- unlocking the
mystery sur-
Pocket Books rounding his
ancestor's mur-
der. The author
sets off for the
beautiful island
of Sicily only to
discover that this
name is only the
first piece in a complicated puzzle.
Between stints of reporting in Bosnia,
Viviano spends his time in Sicily
searching for the truth about his fami-
ly. With each discovery, he realizes
that he is not only getting closer to
uncovering the mystery, but also to
understanding the silent but powerful
system that has controlled Sicilian
society for years. The true story of his
quest is the subject of his latest book,
"Blood Washes Blood."
Frank Viviano is the at-large foreign
correspondent for the San Francisco
Chronicle. He has traveled internation-
ally, covering events from Tiananmen
Square to the collapse of the Soviet
Union. He has also covered organized
crime all over the world. For his work
as a journalist, Viviano has twice
received the World Affairs Council's
Thomas Storke Award for Achieve-
ments in International Reporting. He
has also written six other non-fiction
Although it is also a true story,
"Blood Washes Blood" seems at times
surreal because of its legend-like qual-
ity. Viviano searches, often fruitlessly,
through ancient records to uncover his
family's past. However, he is helped
along by many coincidences. A house
he rents in a citrus grove just happens
to be the house where his ancestor
lived, across the street from Valenti,
his killer. Fairy-tales told by Viviano's

grandmother take on new meanings as
he discovers the epic love stories in his
familial history. All of these come
together to help the author understand
the life of his mysterious ancestor who
shares his name, Francesco Paolo
Not only does this book link past
and present, it also interweaves the
bare facts of history with the parallel
shadowy universe of the Sicilian
underworld. Viviano details the inva-
sions and resulting civil wars that have
consistently plagued Sicilian history.
Although this can get a little tedious,
Viviano keeps the reader's interest by
also describing what is happening
behind the scenes. Viviano's story
illustrates this "sistema del potere," the
power structure that has been present
in Sicily for generations. His ancestor
was at the center, and had earned a
nickname that would outlast his death,
"the Monk."
A figure shrouded in myth, the
Monk was a Robin Hood-like bandit
who journeyed by night in a friar's
robe. He had been on the losing side
of two wars against invaders, which
left him with no qualms in stealing
from the foreign rich to give money to
peasants. Why would his neighbor
Valenti wish to kill him?
Viviano discovers the answer in the
passion and fury of the Sicilian blood
feuds. From the tale of a man who
killed 31 of his neighbors to the
vendetta that is at the center of his
own family narrative, Viviano tells the
tales as only a skilled journalist could.
They epitomize the Sicilian belief that
only "blood washes blood," and help
tle reader gain understanding into a
society that lives by this rule. These
conflicts all come together in a climax
that has a surprising resolution that
adds new significance to not only
Viviano's family past, but also his own
The juxtaposition of his objective
tone and the intensely emotional sto-
ries makes the book a believable fairy-
4tale. Many are fascinated with the
beautiful and dangerous world of Sici-
ly, but few actually comprehend it. In
"Blood Washes Blood," Frank Viviano
offers invaluable insight into the rela-
tionships, the betrayals, and the mur-
ders that so enthrall Americans. For
anyone trying to understand this soci-
ety, this book is not to be missed.


Courtesy of NBC

The cast of "Scrubs" prepares to make waffles.


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