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Archive for Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wanda Sykes’ fixation is so 2008

October 10, 2009

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America has a black president. Wanda Sykes announces this fact repeatedly as if it were new and as if it were funny in her second HBO stand-up special “Wanda Sykes: I’ma Be Me” (9 p.m. Saturday, HBO).

Sykes made some controversial remarks in front of the president and first lady earlier this year at the White House Correspondents dinner, and she reminds us of that, too. She then proceeds to demonstrate why she’ll probably never be asked to perform anywhere near the first couple for the duration of Obama’s tenure.

It takes Sykes about 40 minutes to get to any reflections about her own life as a married lesbian and mother of two. This subject proves slightly more fertile ground for the comedy of identity politics.

• OK, I groaned a little when I got the press material for “JFK: 3 Shots That Changed America” (8 p.m. Sunday, History, concluding Monday). I thought I had seen every scrap of footage related to the Kennedy assassination far too many times already.

Boy was I wrong. “JFK” presents a remarkable parade of clips of home movies, raw news footage, police dispatches and local Dallas coverage — much of it never before aired. And it does so in chronological order and entirely without narration.

The lack of voiceover gives the stream of footage incredible power. Nobody’s telling you what happened or how you’re supposed to interpret it, and this frees the viewer to re-experience a moment of local chaos, national trauma and a time when the fledgling medium of TV news was just figuring itself out.

While presented in a minute-by-minute fashion, the clips arrive weird, raw and jumbled. The documentary often seems like a video version of an archaeological dig, with the editors trying to make sense of so many broken shards of pottery.

A stripper from Jack Ruby’s Carousel club appears on a talk show just hours after the arrest of the assassin’s assassin. We hear a clip from a radio broadcast of a Philharmonic orchestra as the conductor announces the president’s murder to a thunderous gasp from the audience, before leading the musicians in an impromptu performance of a Beethoven funeral march. A friend of Jack Ruby suggests that he saw Lee Harvey Oswald in his nightclub just a week before the assassination. Local correspondents insist on calling the alleged shooter Lee Harold Oswald.

Again, take this from a jaded Kennedy buff, confirmed history nut and professional media junkie: “JFK” is hypnotic, powerful, spellbinding stuff.

Saturday’s other highlights

• The Cardinals host the Dodgers (5 p.m., TBS) in Major League Baseball Playoffs, followed by a game between the Phillies at the Rockies (8:30 p.m.).

• LSU hosts Florida in college football action (7 p.m., CBS).

• Drew Barrymore hosts “Saturday Night Live” (10:30 p.m., NBC), featuring musical guest Regina Spektor.

Sunday’s other highlights

• Major League Baseball Playoffs (6 p.m., TBS).

• “The Tip of the Spear” (7 p.m., MSNBC) examines the war in Afghanistan.

• The Titans host the Colts on “Sunday Night Football” (7:15 p.m., NBC).

• Larry confuses Christian Slater (as himself) on ”Curb Your Enthusiasm“ (8 p.m., HBO).

• Cranky clients irk Don and Sal on ”Mad Men“ (9 p.m., AMC).

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