Friday, August 29, 2014

"Wonder Woman"

1975-1979
-created by douglas s. cramer, stanley ralph ross
Feminism's greatest television triumph, lovingly wrapped in over-the-top camp without a hint of self-conscious irony. Lynda carter stars as the preeminent female hero, stronger, smarter, and nobler than any man (or ten men...with guns!). Melodramatic acting, dialogue that makes CHARLIE'S ANGELS sound like shaw...which is only fair, as WONDER WOMAN was aimed at kids. But it's so unaffected you may burst out loud laughing again and again. Nor is this the subtle feminism of XENA TYLER MOORE - this is in-your-face female empowerment. They even skip "equal" and go straight to "superior"! The premise is that if you remove women from masculine brutality, after a millenium or two they'll develop powers of mind and body that beggar description! Well, why not?? In all fairness, they let the overt feminism pretty much drop off the table after the first episode, but she still saves the day every time, and rescues the hapless male hero too! And she never once uses her sexuality as a weapon. Is she a wonder? How can you ask? It also seems worth mentioning that she's the only superhero with the power of super morality. There's an implied level of elevated morality with all heroes, but "hero" is defined by the culture which employs it. An athenian hero would fight for democracy...of wealthy males. A U.S. hero in 1858 would fight for slavery, and women being denied the vote. Wonder Woman is the only hero whose morality reflects a culture far in advance of any other...a society where crime and poverty no longer exist (superman comes from Krypton, where crime exists, therefore he's necessarily more corruptible than wonder woman - can there be any other conclusion?). I mention this because it calls into question diana's decision to fight for the U.S. Is the U.S. deserving of her loyalty, particularly in season 2, when we jump from nazis to the Vietnam decade? At what point in history would wonder woman fight AGAINST the U.S.? Iraq? The Little Bighorn? Realistically, the only stance she would make would be to shun the barbaric morality of ANY country not named Paradise Island. But then we wouldn't have much of a series. Or...would we? But i quibble. She's stronger and smarter than any man - and that's a show any little girl (and boy) should see.
NOTEWORTHY (boldface: MUST-SEE)
SEASON 1
-The New Original Wonder Woman
That...was a religious experience. In a WWII dogfight over the Devil's Triangle, Germany's top ace (eric braeden - THE RAT PATROL, TITANIC) and the heroic major steve trevor (lyle waggoner - THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW, THE LOVE BOAT II) shoot each other down. Steve washes up on an island where he's the first man the locals have seen in two thousand years (they've eliminated the need for males by finding the secret of immortality). The only fly in their amazon ointment seems to be a touch of sexual repression, embodied by queen hippolyta (cloris leachman - YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, PHYLLIS). Steve stirs something in princess diana she's never felt before. She returns steve in her invisible jet, then walks the streets of the U.S. learning firsthand about barbarism (she's particularly shocked by capitalism). A sleazy promoter (red buttons - THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, ER) solves her money problems by booking her as an act! But the nazis are on to her, and damn near everyone turns out to be a german agent. The climactic fight is over-the-top classic as she goes womano-a-womano with an aryan judo champion (stella stevens - THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE). Taking a secret identity, diana fights axis tyranny by steve's side as his, er, secretary (showing how far feminism had to go anyplace not named Paradise Island). Other guest stars? How about kenneth mars (THE PRODUCERS, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN), henry gibson (LAUGH-IN, BOSTON LEGAL), fannie flagg (GREASE, HARPER VALLEY P.T.A.), and anne ramsey (THE GOONIES, THROW MOMMA FROM THE TRAIN)? Just...brilliant.
-Fausta, the Nazi Wonder Woman
Two wonder women...one of them switching from traditional to nazi version! A german agent (lynda day george - MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, ROOTS) captures wonder woman and returns her to Germany, where she convinces her doppelganger that the fatherland has no love for women, so she should turn traitor! Of course. Who wouldn't?! The shots of wonder woman being overcome are almost disturbing, particularly for a child.
-Beauty on Parade
Okay, it wasn't all gloria steinem in satin power pants. The world's greatest feminist icon had one painstakingly chauvinistic episode, as she goes undercover in a beauty pageant, with leering objectification in full bloom. It's like every crass male notion wanted a "revenge" episode...and got it. Guest star Dick Van Patten (EIGHT IS ENOUGH, ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS) is repellant as the MC. Steve makes some demeaning comments that could be used in sexual harassment films. It's quease-inducing because the writers had no idea they were being loathsome.
-The Feminum Mystique
Not the sharpest episode in the tool shed, but too juicy to be ignored. The debut of debra winger (AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, TERMS OF ENDEARMENT) as diana's teenage sister...wonder girl! Cloris is replaced by carolyn jones (THE ADDAMS FAMILY, BATMAN), who sends princess drusilla to bring her sister home. Nazis mistake her for wonder woman, and get her to reveal the location of Paradise Island...which is soon invaded! No nazi frogmen, but close. The amazing amazons fold like a french fortress. Diana saves the day. Debra wandering the U.S. streets is pretty hysterical too.
-Wonder Woman vs. Gargantua
I'm sorry...did a gorilla just lift wonder woman into the air by her vagina? Ah no, i see! A gorilla just lifted a nazi agent posing as wonder woman into the air by her vagina. All right, then. Carry on. Okay, i suppose i should also mention...john hillerman (MAGNUM P.I., BLAZING SADDLES) and robert loggia (AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, LOST HIGHWAY)!
-The Pluto File
Robert reed (THE BRADY BUNCH, THE BRADY BUNCH VARIETY HOUR) as a plague-infected nazi superspy!
-Judgment from Outer Space
Given the sophomoric writing of some of season 1, you can be forgiven for fearing that an alien episode is a big ol' shark waiting to be jumped. But behold...a corker, an absolute corker! Not just visually, but the smartest episode yet (courtesy of writer stephen kandel, whom it will surprise no one to learn was a veteran of STAR TREK). A council of alien leaders, disturbed by Earth's pending entry into the space age, sends an envoy (Tim O'Connor - PEYTON PLACE, BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25th CENTURY) to decide our fate. He's sympathetic, but the evidence is damning. Wonder Woman argues for U.S. ideals, but he poo-poos that, saying our methods are just as corrupt (he even zings her with japanese-american internment camps). Part 2 loses a little steam and coherence, but ends beautifully.
-The Bushwhackers
If you're not sure you're actually watching a wonder woman western, the producers toss in roy rogers, just so there's no doubt. Cattle rustlers and global orphans in a lightweight script, only notable for her costume - the first time we see her in something approximating civvies. Is it possible roy wasn't comfortable around female flesh? Dale, is there something we should know? Or maybe he was against women being objectified...one of those points wherein feminism gets murky.
-Wonder Woman in Hollywood
Steve is summoned to L.A. to play himself in a war film. But the other military heroes (including robert hays - AIRPLANE!, AIRPLANE II: THE SEQUEL) keep disappearing! Debra winger's final appearance. The sisters' sprinting montage is too, too classic.
SEASON 2
-The Return of Wonder Woman
Can the magic continue? In a new network and new decade, a plane carrying CIA (er, IADC) agent steve trevor, jr. goes down in the Bermuda Triangle, setting off the same sequence of events as thirty-five years before. Diana, unaged, becomes steve's assistant, fighting...well, terrorists and such. Queen hippolyta #3 (beatrice straight - NETWORK, POLTERGEIST), come on down! The villains (including jessica walter - DINOSAURS, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT) are an incoherent mess of cheese...but the scene in which a fake steve attempts to seduce diana is a welcome indulgence after the sexual repression of season 1.
-Anschluss '77
If you're going to have the cojones to do a moving picture about cloning hitler (barry dennen - JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, THE KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE), show him hating and speechifying the minute he emerges from the vat, i say.
-The Bermuda Triangle Crisis
That...was...wild. How about a terrorist sub...that's a reuse of the Seaview from VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA? Plus the debut of the wonder woman aqua suit (an even more preposterously hip Halloween choice)! She spins into it just like her regular costume, which brings up the question of how many changes of attire she can materialize out of thin air. Wonder pajamas? Wonder lederhosen? A wonder biohazard suit? In her blue aqua suit (with stars, natch), she swims hundreds of miles carrying a limpet mine in the wink of an eye.
-Knockout
Just classic. With the help of a samaritan cabbie (ted shackelford - SPACE PRECINCT, KNOTS LANDING: BACK TO THE CUL-DE-SAC), wonder woman convinces a terrorist (jayne kennedy - THE MUTHERS, MYSTERIOUS ISLAND OF BEAUTIFUL WOMEN) of the error of her ways. The writing IQ shoots up, with the notion that anti-rich terrorists could have a legitimate beef. Plus a conversation between an assassin and a revolutionary, that's just too surreal. It's also fascinating to watch the show with the awareness that lynda has a latin heritage, of which we kids in the 70s had no clue. The moments when she speaks spanish (or chooses tacos over burgers) take on a new resonance. And she gets another mute child to speak! Annie sullivan got nothin' on ol' WW. This episode sets the template for much of the rest of the series, in which lynda and lyle rarely appear onscreen together...
-The Pied Piper
Been waiting for an episode so surreal it will leave your mouth agape in disbelief? Then go no further than this tale of flutist rock star hamlin rule (martin mull - CLUE, THE JERK TOO) who hypnotizes his fans into robbing his concerts. Not enough? How about eve plumb (THE BRADY BUNCH, I'M GONNA GET YOU SUCKA) as his head teenybopper? Hamlin makes david cassidy look like johnny rotten, and his crooks look like a muslim version of the robert palmer girls. You'll be speechless.
-The Queen and the Thief
Jersey girl turned european monarch faces treachery from a jewel thief (david hedison - VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, LIVE AND LET DIE) and her own ambassador (john colicos - BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, DEEP SPACE NINE).
-The Man Who Made Volcanoes
A weighty contender for "most incoherent WW episode"...and that's one of the more fiercely-contested titles in TV history. A rogue scientist (roddy mcdowall - PLANET OF THE APES, TALES OF THE GOLD MONKEY) builds a ray that can trigger volcanoes anywhere on the globe, and holds the planet hostage until we agree to end war. Pacifist diana has less sympathy than you might hope. Chinese, russian, and american agents descend on Mexico.
-Mind Stealers from Outer Space
Interplanetary envoy andros...or uh, his son (dack rambo - DALLAS, PAPER DOLLS) returns to Earth to fight brain-stealing aliens. It seems obvious that tim o'connor was meant to reprise his role, but couldn't - or perhaps he read the script, and knew the magic wasn't there. The aliens look like fifty-cent gorts with garland around their heads, and their beast looks like a cross between darth vader, darth maul, and stephen stills. Plus a couple frizz-headed Doublemint twins and a flying saucer reuse from THIS ISLAND EARTH...but nothing clicks.
-The Deadly Toys
An almost understated frank gorshin (BATMAN, RUDOLF'S SHINY NEW YEAR) plays an aged toymaker who constructs a wonder woman android. Yes, boys and girls (okay, boys), it's time for some amazon on amazon action!
-Light-fingered Lady
Greg morris (MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, VEGA$)! The screen debut of bubba smith (POLICE ACADEMY 1-6, STROKER ACE)!
-Screaming Javelins
Oh...my. Henry gibson (CHARLOTTE'S WEB, MAGNOLIA) gives a performance that's a wet dream for every drama teacher who ever told a student "bigger". Playing the monomaniacal leader of an island nation who kidnaps the world's best athletes to compete in the Olympics, he sports swishy hair, purple pajamas, and blonde twins constantly massaging him. Not enough? How about rick springfield (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, CALIFORNICATION) as a dopey boyfriend? And vaughn armstrong (ENTERPRISE, CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER) as a flunky, looking so young he may as well be five.
-Diana's Disappearing Act
Diana is kidnapped by a magician alchemist (dick gautier - GET SMART, WHEN THINGS WERE ROTTEN) who has a lead-to-gold scheme he's using to bilk OPEC. A goofy ed begley jr. (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, A MIGHTY WIND) is a senator's son trying to help. Even when WW fails to be excitingly cool, it's usually so silly you can't help giggling.
-Flight to Oblivion
That, boys and girls, is a bus...with a periscope.
-The Man Who Wouldn't Tell
Are you sitting? Gary burghoff (M*A*S*H, M*A*S*H) plays a womanizing janitor who accidentally finds the missing ingredient in an explosive. Corporate mercenary philip michael thomas (MIAMI VICE, ROOTS: THE NEXT GENERATIONS) captures him. So bad it's...not good, but funny funny funny.
-The Girl from Ilandia
Bizzarro hilarity. A girl from another dimension is discovered on a piece of driftwood, pursued by an evil genius (allan arbus - M*A*S*H, THE ELECTRIC HORSEMAN). Mr. arbus should take megalomaniac lessons from mr. gibson, and a team of psychologists should take a close look at the news mogul who adopts the girl - it's doubtful they'd let him within a hundred miles of a female child today. The shots of wonder woman teaching her to use her powers are unforgettable.
-The Murderous Missile
Just so silly (with heart). A third wonder costume arrives...motocross togs! But take away the exclamation point...it's just a reuse of the wet suit, with gold helmet.
SEASON 3
-My Teenage Idol is Missing
Can this show GET any sillier? Take a seat, as...leif garrett (THE OUTSIDERS, BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICE) plays identical twins, a rock star and an orphan. He's kidnapped, and replaced by himself. As his manager (michael lerner - EIGHT  MEN OUT, BARTON FINK) bumbles, fans won't accept a lip-synching star! Well no. Of course not. That would be silly.
-The Deadly Sting
How can you tell pre-80s TV from post-80s? In the latter, the bad guys sexually harass women; in the former, the good guys do it. Starring craig t. nelson (POLTERGEIST, COACH) and ron ely (TARZAN, DOC SAVAGE).
-The Fine Art of Crime
Roddy mcdowall (THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES) is back for his second spin on the wonder wheel, as a sculptor whose amazing statues are humans "frozen" so they can be re-animated to commit crimes! Naturally. Ed begley's back too, for an encore as milksop harold farnum. Gavin mcleod (MARY TYLER MOORE, THE LOVE BOAT) plays a victimized father.
-Disco Devil
Some WW episodes make you ponder the question, "Too silly, or not silly enough?" A disco is a front for a crime ring that uses a psychic to steal people's memories. Russell Johnson (GILLIGAN'S ISLAND, THIS ISLAND EARTH) plays an army colonel. Is Wolfman Jack along for the ride? How can you even wonder? But no - neither diana nor steve dance.
-Formicida
Can it finally be...a super-villain?? Wonder woman fights formicida, a scientist who takes bug hormones to gain ant power, and the ability to control them. She's a half-sympathetic ecological terrorist. The strange, scary manipulations she makes with her mouth will endure long in a child's memory...and her catsuit will do the same for an older demographic. But formicida may take first prize in the "worst villain name ever" contest - even after watching the episode, you'll be unable to pronounce it. Next to her, "disintegratrix" is easy peezy.
-Time Bomb
The WW sci fi train keeps on rolling! Ted shackelford (DALLAS, KNOTS LANDING) is back for his second go-round, playing a scientist from 2155 chasing a criminal (joan van ark - DALLAS, KNOTS LANDING) who longs for these barbaric, profit-based times. The best WW has a quality of lightness which floats the episode along. The visuals are candy, the acting spot-on, the flirtation between diana and adam tantalizing...and obviously this one's a wet dream for KNOTS LANDING buffs (Knotsers? Knotsies! Sorry.).
-Skateboard Wiz
She makes up for not discoing (a bit, anyway), as she grabs a board and chases down a car! Plus video games, an unforgettable attempt by two goons to drown her in the surf, the second WW go-round for eric braeden (ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES, HERBIE GOES TO MONTE CARLO), plus art metrano (POLICE ACADEMY 2-3, JOANIE LOVE CHACHI)!
-Stolen Faces
The awesomest transformation ever, as diana falls off a building and spins in mid-air. Plus another evil steve trevor!
-Pot of Gold
The words "understated" and "WONDER WOMAN" don't cross paths often, so let's give due honor, as WW deals with...a leprechaun. Yup. But instead of giving us cliched, actor dick o'neill (CAGNEY & LACEY, THE MOSQUITO COAST) offers disarming believability.
-Gault's Brain
Strap yourself in for the perfect WW episode for all ages - as frightening to young'ns as it's hysterical to adults. A billionaire (the immortal john carradine - THE GRAPES OF WRATH, STAGECOACH) dies, and has an evil scientist (peter mark richman - THE NAKED GUN 2 1/2, DYNASTY) put his brain (with one eye) into a fish tank, from where he displays telekinetic powers while waiting to be transferred to an athletic young body. Beefcake plus cheesecake, as a femme fatale (cathie shirriff - STAR TREK III, ALL THAT JAZZ) slinks around. You'll check the clock, wondering how they squeezed all this into one episode.
-Spaced Out
Sit right down for a tale of a cat burglar trying to recover stolen goods at a sci fi convention. The visuals are outlandishly hysterical, with costumes from LOGAN'S RUN, STAR WARS, THIS ISLAND EARTH, a woman with vulcan ears, and robbie the robot. Those alone would be worth the price of admission, but would you believe the burglar is played by...rene auberjonois (M*A*S*H, STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE)? A man destined to attend more sci fi conventions than he might ever recall? And the name of the fictional sci fi show making a 1979 "comeback" (as STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE was being filmed across town)? No, not GALAXY QUEST...it's SPACE QUEST!
-The Starships are Coming
No, no wonder space suit yet...but the sci fi silliness keeps on rolling. A tycoon fakes an alien invasion, in order to have China nuked. Tim o'connor (THE NAKED GUN 2 1/2, DYNASTY) takes his second spin on the WW wheel, as a one-eyed colonel. David white (BEWITCHED, THE HAPPY HOOKER GOES TO WASHINGTON) tags along too. The all-time greatest wonder woman vs. goons fight - if you don't laugh out loud, you're dead inside.
-Amazon Hot Wax
Diana goes on a wild ride, as she poses as an aspiring singer to expose extortion in the music biz. You'll wonder whose amazing voice she's lip-synching to...and you'll be wrong. It's all lynda (yes, she released an album, too). The screen debut of judge rheinhold (FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, BEVERLY HILLS COP), plus the second WW spin for rick springfield (HARD TO HOLD, HIGH TIDE).
-A Date with Doomsday
Peace terrorists plan a lethal germ warfare strike against Washington. Unlike the wealth- and eco-terrorists, they get no sympathy, not even from an uber-pacifist amazon. With donnelly rhodes (SOAP, GALACTICA)!
-The Girl with a Gift for Disaster
A goof with grumpy goons...charles haid (HILL STREET BLUES, NIGHTBREED) and dick butkus (MY TWO DADS, JOHNNY DANGEROUSLY).
-The Boy Who Knew Her Secret
Aliens come body snatching...are they malevolent, or just chasing an evil fugitive? Why did it take this long for diana to face a villain who uncovers her secret identity? A teenager (clark brandon - MY TUTOR, THE FACTS OF LIFE) also finds out, and is forced to face the invasion alone when diana gets hypnotized into forgetting her identity. Her wipe of his memory at the end is tantalizingly incomplete. A double-length episode with too much to cram into one, but not enough for two.
-The Man Who Could Not Die
Or, the series about to die (and crap like this is why). WW is re-booted in L.A., with steve trevor gone. This has to have been the last episode shot. There's a chauvinist IADC boss, an ingratiatingly annoying child hustler hanging around the office...and it's just bad. Really, really bad.
-Phantom of the Roller Coaster
Wonder woman chases a disfigured vietnam vet haunting an amusement park! Another two-parter that gets a bit plodding, but has plenty of heart. Plus craig littler (JASON OF STAR COMMAND, BLAZING SADDLES) and marc alaimo (DEEP SPACE NINE, TANGO & CASH)!
SPECIAL BONUS
-WONDER WOMAN (TV movie, 1974)
NO connection to the series...a point so important to douglas kramer, that the full name of that series became THE NEW ORIGINAL WONDER WOMAN. But worth reviewing, because it's too bizarre to ignore. Substantially different in tone (more deliberate and understated) and look (a blonde star who barely has a supercostume...and not in the good way), it's the 70s at their bizarro best. The dialogue is at times so surreal that it dips into film noir. Starring kathy lee crosby (THAT'S INCREDIBLE!, COACH), and ricardo montalban (STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, THE NAKED GUN) as a villain so suave, urbane, and polite, he'd rather have a shavian discussion than take over the world. His super-villain escape plan involves him rowing away in a raft so small he must have stolen it from a child. An image so funny it will stay with you a long time...
WONDER WOMAN DRINKING GAME
Yes, yes...i don't drink and i'm bored by people who do. Yet i'm helpless to resist the goof of a perfectly conjured drinking game.
1 drink - she breaks a gun
1 drink - she uses her headband as a boomerang
1 drink - the office robot dog uses the road runner meep-meep sound
2 drinks - a non-standard wonder costume
3 drinks - she lays some personal accessory down before transforming, necessitating logistic complications when she transforms back, to say nothing of exposing her accessory to theft

Sunday, August 17, 2014

"For the Love of Harry"

FOR THE LOVE OF HARRY: EVERYBODY SINGS NILSSON
1995
A contender for the title of "greatest tribute album ever". As that's almost a left-handed compliment, a truer compliment might be this - mixed in with harry's own stuff, this will be one of your most listened-to, beloved nilsson discs. Which is not to say you'll fall in love with every performance, or that there won't be a song or two you'll wish had been included instead...but for an artist who was as talented a singer as he was a writer, it's amazing that so many of these offerings don't make you long to hear the original. A few even surpass the original. Released a year after harry's death, the album is bursting. Twenty-three tracks by a diverse group of artists who all donated their work, so that more proceeds could go to The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a charity near to harry's heart since his friend john's slaying in 1980. The ever-quirky, merry musical puck who would have been more of a household name had he cared to play any concerts, inspired that kind of love among his peers.
1) "Remember", by randy newman
Harry covered newman copiously, and randy returns the favor with an effort indescribably perfect as the lead track.
2) "Turn On Your Radio", by marc cohn
Marc contributes an effort so good it's rather spooky (the insertion of lennon lyrics and a couple whispered lines by harry himself help).
3) "One", by aimee mann
A beautifully-done track with backup vocals by chris difford and neil innes, that later ended up on the MAGNOLIA soundtrack.
4) "Coconut", by fred schneider
A contribution that seems almost TOO obvious ("i said doctor!"), but fred nails it.
6) "Lay Down Your Arms", by ringo starr with stevie nicks
Kind of obligatory at first, but it feels just right after a few listenings.
7) "Without Her", by beckley/lamm/wilson
A solid, funky offering by this America/Chicago/Beach Boy supergroup.
9) "The Moonbeam Song", by steve forbert
Just a beautiful, indelible vocal. You'll play it again and again.
10) "You're Breakin' My Heart", by peter wolf and the houseparty 5
A raucous rendition of a song that will make you say, "Wait...WHAT do those lyrics say?" The third track from SON OF SCHMILSSON that outdoes the original.
12) "Salmon Falls", by al kooper
A righteous contribution of a beautiful, eerie, unfairly obscure song, by one of the album's two co-producers.
14) "Don't Forget Me", by marshall crenshaw
A delightful effort (though the signature recording belongs now to neither he nor harry, but neil diamond).
16) "Think About Your Troubles", by jellyfish
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this disc is in its offerings from THE POINT!...harry's most famous work, but one this writer never quite "got". Fan-fan-fantastic.
20) "I Guess the Lord Must be in New York City", by richard barone
Richard takes a good song and makes it soar higher than before...
23) "Lifeline", by jimmy webb
See # 16...a perfect ending to an amazing album. Rich, resonant, and unforgettable.

"Eating Animals"

-by jonathan saffran foer
2009
A lifelong omnivore facing parenthood for the first time decides to understand what being a meat-eater in the 21st century really means, before bestowing that cultural heritage upon his child. Jonathan, celebrated author of the novel "Everything is Illuminated", spent several years researching this quest, and the results are most impressive. Beautifully written and compellingly argued, the main focus revolves around the reality of factory farming on planet Earth, where the mandates of "cheap meat for all" have created a moral vacuum in which trillions of slave animals live horrifically and die excruciatingly, and an ecological apocalypse which the human race will not likely survive. The cultural roots and ritualistic importance of eating are studied. A sea of facts and stats roll before your eyes, many of which will not soon leave your consciousness. The false gap between our own nature and that of other animals is touched upon, in the growing body of awareness of how much more intelligent, emotional, and social other Earth creatures are than we ever wanted to believe. Jonathan gets "inside" the wall of secrecy behind factory farms and slaughterhouses as much as possible. The only aspects not looked at in-depth are the health concerns of a meat-based diet, and the historical perspective by which humans only 20,000 years ago began murdering and exploiting not only other animals, but each other as well. But what's here is much more impressive than what's not, and for a fair-handed meat-eater's look at "what are we doing?", you won't do better. For a deeper look, see: http://nakedmeadow.blogspot.com/2014/08/tony-tofurkey.html.