Entertainment » The Televisionist

WM3, Portis and jail




8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12


We've written a lot about the West Memphis Three case over the years, so we won't rehash the details, but here's a heads up that the third (and maybe final) installment of Bruce Sinofsky and Joe Berlinger's stunning documentary series on the WM3 case makes its TV debut this Thursday on HBO. Given that PL3 was 18+ years in the making, it's definitely one to catch if you've got primo cable.


If you're from Arkansas, and you haven't read the works of Arkansas novelist Charles Portis, do so. Do it now. Blow off work, drive to your nearest bookstore and buy "True Grit" or "Norwood" or "The Dog of the South" and spend the rest of the day reading in your car in the parking lot. As you probably know if you've been in Arkansas for awhile, drinking in the novels of Charles Portis is a big, big step in getting your Certified Arkie card, along with floating the Buffalo River and comparing momma stories with Bill Clinton. For those who can't get around to reading Portis, however, the next best thing (though it's a distant second) is WATCHING Portis. That means the 1970 adaptation of "Norwood," or the 1969 or 2010 adaptations of "True Grit." The 1969 "True Grit" starring John Wayne (in his only Oscar-winning role) is — in this reviewer's mind, anyway — a bit inferior to the 2010 version by auteur directors The Coen Brothers, but it's still a hell of a good time. In both, Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld in the 2010 version, Kim Darby in 1969) seeks justice for her murdered father by hiring U.S. Marshal Reuben "Rooster" Cogburn (John Wayne vs. Jeff Bridges) to hunt down her dad's killer. In "Norwood," a Vietnam vet (Delight native Glen Campbell) follows his dream to sing on "The Louisiana Hayride." Luckily for fans of Portis, all three films are now on Netflix Instant, so you can complain about how the books were better to your heart's content. So, who will come out on top? Norwood Pratt, The Duke or The Dude? I pick Bridges, hands down, though the original "True Grit" has its charms, and "Norwood" is a fun romp. That's bold talk for a one-eyed fat man.


8 p.m. Mondays

Discovery Channel

While I happen to have a somewhat womperjawed moral compass, the thing that really keeps me from going out and knocking over banks, pirating Hollywood blockbusters and hacksawing the heads off parking meters isn't my iron will and belief in the sanctity of Justice. It's that I never, ever, ever want to wind up in jail. Haven't you ever seen an American prison movie? It's like a feces-scented nightmare in there. While movies may paint a rather stylized picture of life in The Big House, the only thing keeping me out of prison at this point is: A) The unwavering belief that I will get caught immediately upon breaking any law. And, B) My similarly iron-clad belief that prison is a non-stop rape-o-thon, punctuated by a daily shanking for not giving some guy your gruel at breakfast. That's my impression, I'm sticking to it, and I share it often with my kid, lest he be tempted to get all felonious later in life. In this new show from The Discovery Channel, camera crews follow those who have run afoul of the law in the days leading up to their long-term incarceration. Once the big doors of Folsom slam shut behind them, the cameras stick around for the first seven days as they learn the ropes, try to decide who they can trust and who they can't, and figure out how to put the sensual back in "non-consensual." Best of all, the show tries to focus on those who have never been convicted of a crime. Expect a lot of tears, regret, clenched fists and dudes who look like Tyrone Biggums from "Chappelle's Show" yelling "FRESH FISH!"

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