Strike? What writers' strike?

The Baltimore Sun

My thoughts on a few things that, by themselves, won't make a complete column but will do nicely when combined:

First of all: what Hollywood writers' strike?

Hollywood writers have been on strike how many days now? Does anybody really miss 'em?

There are only three shows that I give a darn about. One is 24, the action-thriller starring Kiefer Sutherland. I'm still hooked on the series, even though last season smacked suspiciously of a recycled product.

The second is the bad-cop/worse-cop series The Shield. I confess that I dismissed the show during its first season. A bunch of corrupt, brutal, racist cops who routinely violate civil liberties are the protagonists?

But after the most recent season, I realized that viewers have to look at the entire series, not just one year of shows. The overarching theme is that your bad deeds will come back to haunt you -- and in ways you least expect.

Lead actor Michael Chiklis and supporting actor Walton Goggins should have won Emmys for their brilliant work last season as partners who turned into bitter enemies. Whoever those geniuses are who vote for Emmy winners decided to pass on honoring Chiklis and Goggins, and didn't nominate The Wire -- the other show I like. I would be worried about this show, but it's already been filmed and slated to be aired early next year.

Maybe everybody in the film and television industry -- writers, actors, directors and producers -- needs to go on strike, and for a very long time. Besides, I'm busy watching the old stuff, and much of it is a lot better than what's on now.

There are reruns of The Alfred Hitchock Show on the Chiller channel. There are reruns of The Twilight Zone on the Sci-Fi channel. I'm catching rebroadcasts of The Rifleman on the Starz Western channel and have been pleasantly surprised at how good the show was. It ran from 1958 to 1963, when I was in the 7- to 12-year-old range. Back then, I watched the show for the thrill of seeing old Lucas McCain dispatch bad guys who had the bad judgment to mess with him. But the show dealt with topics most other television shows steered clear of then: racism; women's rights; and the plight of the mentally ill. The Rifleman was a very underrated show with some quality writing, acting and directing.

And then there's always the NFL Network, where I can get pro football 365 days a year. Today, the network is running a one-hour show on the 10 most versatile players ever to suit up for an NFL team. (I hope your Tivo is set to record it.) The show is also a rerun, and it's pretty good, although I was miffed that former Baltimore Colts halfback Tom Matte was in the bottom half of the list instead of at the top, which is where he belongs.

Speaking of pro football: anybody want to put up money on how many points the Ravens will give up to the New England Patriots on Monday night?

At first, I predicted 100, but then I took it a little further. I WANT the Ravens to try to let the Patriots score 100 points.

Bear with me a second to see where I'm going. I'm assuming the Ravens, at four wins and seven losses, have been giving us their best effort this season. Yes, I know. What a frightening thought. They've given us their best effort, and look what it's gotten them -- and us. If they consciously try to give us their worst effort, then maybe, in spite of themselves, they might give us their best one -- and even pull off a victory.

Look, somebody's going to beat the Patriots this year (which will make those whining 1972 Miami Dolphins very happy). So why not the Ravens? If they pull that off -- and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in their last game -- I'd be inclined to forgive them those games where they stunk out either our stadium or some other city's.

Has anybody in the Ravens' front office figured out why teams like the Indianapolis Straight-Up-Stolen-From-Baltimore Colts and the Patriots have fielded playoff or championship teams nearly every year of this decade?

It's because they apply a formula the Ravens haven't discovered yet. It's similar to the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) method. This one could be called the ITQS method. That's an abbreviation for "It's The Quarterback, Stupid."

The Colts have Peyton Manning. The Patriots have Tom Brady. The Ravens had Steve McNair, who was brilliant last season and the main reason they went 13-3. He couldn't match that effort this season, which forced the team back to Kyle Boller, who's never been mistaken for either Brady or Manning.

The Ravens have yet to sign a quarterback who'll make Baltimoreans forget John Unitas. They have signed quarterbacks who've turned in some downright laughable performances.

"He who laughs the most in life, wins," Dr. Steven Wiener, my podiatrist and a man full of such pithy quotes, told me recently. If that's true, with the Orioles and Ravens to laugh at this year, Baltimoreans are really winners.

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