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October 03, 2006 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-10-03

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Tuesday, October 3, 2006 - The Michigan Daily - 9

By Catherine Smyka
Daily Arts Writer
The disparate elements of cul-
tures as different as those of India
and America don't always mix
well. Enchanting guitar talent
most often breeds No. 1 blues and
country hits in America, while
the Indian sitar produces peaceful
Debashish Pandit
Bhattacharya Debashish
has merged Bhattacharya
the unique Tonight and
sounds of tomorrow
bothtraditions at 8 p.m.
through his At the School of
Hindustani Music E.V.Mto
classical slide BuildiegBritt
Recital Hall
guitar music,
which he will
unleash tonight at the School of
Music's Britton Recital Hall.
"Because (Bhattacharya) will
be playing guitar, an instrument
Westerners are already familiar
with and can relate to, it removes
one of the first potential barri-
ers and makes (the music) easier
to understand," School of Music
senior Robert Lester said. "He
approaches music differently,
crossing borders and hybridizing
while maintaining authenticity."
Lester, the event's primary
organizer, knew he wanted to
bring the guitar genius to cam-
pus from the first time he came in
contact with the classical Indian
melodies of Bhattacharya's latest
album "Calcutta Slide Guitar 3"
in early 2006. "I personally-found
his music compelling and beauti-
ful," Lester said. "It's really, really
great stuff."
After petitioning the Univer-
sity, fundraising efforts stirred. "I
knew if I really commit myself to
a purpose," Lester said. "I just had
to craft the right sort of argument
to the right people." Convincing
the University of the Bhattacha-
rya's excellence would bring to its
grounds was not a difficult task.

In need of 'Help': Danson's
sitcom founders from start

Debashish Bhattacharya will play the slide guitar tonight at the
School of Music.
The term "Pandit" is an Indian Sutapa (Vocals and Tambura) and
title given only to scholars for sig- Sri Subhasis Bhattacharya (Tabla),
nificant mas- did not have a
tery of an area, "He adopted a place to stay
particularly because the
religion and the W estern instrument money raised
arts. Bestow- could not cover
ing this title on to an Eastern both pay-
Bhattacharya, ment and hotel
Lester thinks, aesthetic and plays rooms. Tel-
is more than . luride House,
fitting. Besides with a technique a scholarship
the ingenuity that's all his own." organization
of his individu- on campus,
ally-designed stepped for-
22 string acous- - School of Music senior ward.
tic guitar, Bhat- Robert Lester "They were
tacharya has profoundly
spent a great helpful," Lester
deal of his life sharing his knowl- said, "and have the chance to bring
edge, particularly at his School of a unique visitor to the house." Tel-
Universal Music, in Calcutta, India. luride House offered rooms and
"What distinguishes him from food for all three musicians.
other traveling performers is that Though somewhat unknown in
he is an educator as well as a per- the United States, Bhattacharya is
former," Lester said. "He adopted held in high esteem in India and
a Western instrument to an East- other parts of the world. Lester
ern aesthetic and plays with a hopes the Ann Arbor community
technique that's all his own." will spread his good name. "I've
Raising the funds to bring a been able to play his CD for oth-
foreign musician of such a high ers and they respond with lots of
caliber wasn't simple. While the enthusiasm," Lester said. "I've
University was getting a bargain never heard anything like (his
price for such a performance, music), and the most exciting part
Bhattacharya and his two siblings, is the anticipation of the show."

By Imran Syed
Daily Arts Writer
Ted Danson is an old man. The strident face
audiences came to know and love for his Emmy
and Golden Globe-win-
ning turn as Sam Malone on
"Cheers" is now nearly 60.
And while that's not exactly Help Me
cutting it close to a date with Help You
the guardian of Styx, he's no
strapping free-wheeler any- Tuesdays at
more, either. The worst thing 9:30 p.m.
an older actor, even one as tal- Alt
ented as Danson, can do is try
to overwrite the blaze of age
(just ask Harrison Ford). But that's precisely what
Danson's new show "Help Me Help You" has him
do, and the result is a bumbling, tedious sitcom
with a star who plainly looks like what he is - a
decade removed from his prime.
Danson plays Dr. Bill Hoffman, a psychologist
who holds small group therapy sessions to help
people troubled by fractured relationships. Hoff-
man is (obviously) old, and age has brought him a
sense of complete sureness in himself and his meth-
ods, leaving him inaccessible and slightly neurotic
himself. He guides people through the fatiguing
labors of making a relationship work, but his own
marriage has fallen apart. He's nothing more than
a loner who needs his small group of distressed
patients as badly as they need him.
From a premise that you'd think too dark for
a conventional sitcom, the show seeks to extract
nothing but the barest grounding. The largely
accepted fact that "situation" is a big part of "situ-
ational comedy" seems lost on the minds behind
this show. The humor gains nothing from the setup
and all the characters and jokes are generic enough
to be inserted into any of the hundreds of other
shoddy sitcoms we've seen in recent years.
As such, "Help Me Help You" has no character or
purpose. It tackles nothing original and only half-
heartedly recycles jokes that weren't even funny
when you first encountered them years ago.
A large part of the humor is supposed to come
from the apparently original neuroses of each of
Hoffman's patients. But all we get out of them is
stock apprehension and tired conflicts. The only
character who stands apart is Jonathan (Jim Rash,
"Sky High"), the blas6, jaded metrosexual who

"Seriously, I haven't forgiven you for 'Gulliver's
Travels.' Who does that?!"
may also be gay. Though Jonathan's apparently
suppressed homosexuality yields the only laugh in
the entire show, the whole "maybe he's gay, maybe
he's not, maybe just a little" routine itself is beyond
prosaic at this point.
Other than Jonathan, patients Dave, Inger, Dar-
lene and Michael round out the small therapy
group. Given that they do absolutely nothing origi-
nal or even remotely inventive, the less you know
about them the better. They're little more than faces
filling the screen, saying things that are about as
funny as YouTube clips of unsuspecting kids slip-
ping on ice and breaking a tailbone - and about
as painful, too.
The comedy of this sitcom, then, rests squarely
of the shoulders of Danson. He's a capable come-
dian - no one can deny that - but miscast into a
role that seems to entail a teenager trapped in an
old man's body, Danson fumbles every thematic
linchpin and does little to quell the drag creat-
ed by the other characters and abysmal writing.
There's nothing funny or worthwhile about the
show, and indeed, without a laughtrack, it could
probably pass for a dark drama, and a very poor
one at that.


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