Kansas City’s Night

A Pensive Mahomes

Last evening, the Chiefs shone in the second half of the Super Bowl. They dominated the Eagles the entire two quarters. Philly players looked stunned by the outcome. C’est la vie. But I found such irony in another fact. The show playing opposite the Super Bowl was set in Kansas City. But there was little celebrating going on in that plot: it was The Last of Us, Episode 5, entitled “Long, Long Time”. Joel and Ellie arrived in Kansas City to find the city overrun, not by killer mutants but by killer humans, bent on revenge on collaborators with the newly-overthrown government. There were no surprises until the very end, when one of the human horde’s SUVs gets swallowed up in a sinkhole, revealing a swarm of mutants that kill the vengeful last vestige of humanity in KC. Kinda looked like the Chiefs’ defense swarming over the Eagles’ attempts to pursue yardage.

Melanie as Kathleen

There were some issues with the show (no, not Rihanna’s half-time program), but The zombie one. First, there was a big issue with casting. The ‘bad girl’ Kathleen was played by Melanie Lynsky, who will forever be Rose on Two and a Half Men for me. She was most unconvincing as a ruthless killer. Too lispy. Then there’s the soundtrack. Now I know this show is based on a video game, so the music is aimed at a slightly younger demographic. But geez, guys, to call it insipid is to be generous. Moony girl voices, singing songs I know nothing of, add nothing to the proceedings. Often the cleverest shows include songs in the closing credits that appeal to a different age. In this case, they could have gone with the old time pop tune “Kansas City” by Lieber and Stoller, sung by Wilbert Harrison in 1959. But that would be too obvious. A better option would have been to honor Kansas City’s contribution to jazz that began in the 20’s in the Prohibition era. The town was overseen by a political boss named Tom Pendergast. 12th Street and Vine had about 50 jazz clubs, the site referenced in a verse of Wilbert’s song.

Count Basie

KC is where the likes of Count Basie and Charlie Parker got started with their particular form of jazz. So the end of the show could have featured Basie’s “One O’Clock Jump” or maybe “April in Paris”, but it feels like neither of these fit. Instead, I think the Charlie Parker songbook would have been more appropriate. “Bird of Paradise” would likely have been too obscure and too upbeat for the mood. The one I would have picked would have been ‘Don’t Blame Me”, title appropriate to the theme of the show, and just the right tempo.

Charlie Parker, ‘Bird’

It’s too bad the show runners aren’t better educated on musical genres apart from current EMO-ish tunes. They missed a real opportunity last night. But speaking of EMO, I had some other thoughts about The Last of Us. Recognizing it’s based on a video game, I started to notice by Episode 5 that everyone dies, some sooner, some later. But everyone except Joel and Ellie die. No one is left behind, waving goodbye. But that is the nature of video games. No! Often that is the goal of a video game: kill everyone. How very sad for young people. No wonder you’re all so jaded and depressed. No wonder these mass shootings occur. No, I’m not suggesting a causative relationship between video games and mass shootings. What I am suggesting is that a hopeless young person often acts out their rage and despair in one last act that will give them notoriety. If you can’t find it in a video arena, why not real life? Whatever that is.

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