Posts tagged Television

Joan Rivers, Cultural Touchstone

Caryn James on how the new film, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, makes the case for Rivers’ cultural significance

Without her coarse, sexually frank stand-up, where would Sarah Silverman and Chelsea Handler be? The film’s trickier, more revealing theme appears between the lines. The cameras followed Rivers for a year, beginning in mid-2008 when she turned 75, capturing moments of raw honesty often in the same scenes that display huge blind spots. In a limo on the way to a Comedy Central roast, Rivers whines to her assistant, “I am so depressed,” because she’s anticipating the predictable jokes about surgery and aging. So why does she do it? For the money—not exactly a depressing motive. (After all, she has a staff and a gilded, faux-Versailles apartment to maintain.) What emerges is a remarkable portrait of the vanity, vulnerability, and personal cost of being an ambitious old lady in celebrity culture.

soupsoup:

Goodnight, sweet procedural law drama.

Here’s what we were wondering around Nwk HQ: If they didn’t announce a cancellation, how would anyone know? L&O is like the ocean we swim in; there are so many episodes out there, playing so often, that it could have been years before anyone caught on…

soupsoup:

Goodnight, sweet procedural law drama.

Here’s what we were wondering around Nwk HQ: If they didn’t announce a cancellation, how would anyone know? L&O is like the ocean we swim in; there are so many episodes out there, playing so often, that it could have been years before anyone caught on…

leitch:

Yep. Poniewozik has it right. I’m an incredible LOST apologist, but, jeeez. Honestly, my eyes rolled back in my head so many times last night that I know what the back of my skull looks like now. (It’s fleshier, more tender than I would have thought.) Oh, and here’s the brilliant Patton Oswalt routine being referenced above.

Honestly, the thing we’ll miss most about lost is Poniewozik discussing it.

leitch:

Yep. Poniewozik has it right. I’m an incredible LOST apologist, but, jeeez. Honestly, my eyes rolled back in my head so many times last night that I know what the back of my skull looks like now. (It’s fleshier, more tender than I would have thought.) Oh, and here’s the brilliant Patton Oswalt routine being referenced above.

Honestly, the thing we’ll miss most about lost is Poniewozik discussing it.

Since Twin Peaks, dozens of serial dramas have come and gone, and the only ones that have somewhat managed to work through the challenges of the format are 24 and Lost, both of which are sprinting toward their series finales. They’ve succeeded for different reasons. Fox’s 24 made serial drama work by never giving the audience enough time to stop and breathe, let alone mount a counterargument to the nonstop twists, double-crosses, and improvised torture sessions. But 24, as serial dramas go, was always a relatively low-risk investment for a viewer. Every season has been as close to a reboot as possible, and all you really need to know is that there’s this counterterrorist agent named Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) and that if you have information he wants, you’d best hope there are no car batteries nearby. Lost, meanwhile, is arguably the most ambitious narrative in television history, a sprawling genre epic with dozens of characters, a bottomless bag of narrative trickery and lots of Big Ideas. If the Lost finale succeeds at satisfying even most of its audience, it’ll be the first time a show of its kind has maintained its creative and financial viability long enough to even have a resolution with integrity.
Alston, on Happy Town and the state of the TV serial drama

The Return of Betty White


Alston, in a nice piece on her new show:


The sitcom for which White is most known, The Golden Girls, didn’t shy away from the issues women grapple with as they age. But it wasn’t a pity party; it was a silver-haired version of Friends—built around the idea that fun, friendship, love, and triumph don’t have to end when you move from one phase of life to the next. The only thing on the air that’s similar to it now is the new slice-of-life reality series Sunset Daze, which follows a sextet of 60ish women living in an Arizona retirement community. They’re vibrant and funny: enjoying their golden years, not defeatedly wading through them. It’s a rare example of reality television that genuinely reflects reality, rather than Hollywood’s dystopic views of divorced and widowed empty nesters marching inexorably toward isolated, joyless futures. Like Sunset Daze, White’s lioness-in-spring phase is a much-needed reminder to older women that life doesn’t end until it ends. But in order to get the message, they’ll have to pay attention to how White behaves in life, not how she acts on television.

Well, There You Go, Lindsay

Hosenball reports:


The New York Police Department has stepped up security at the headquarters of the Comedy Central cable channel after an Islamic extremist Web site posted apparent threats to the creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, for making fun of the Prophet Muhammad. Paul Browne, NYPD deputy commissioner and chief spokesman, says that his department for some time has been aware of the small group, which appears to organize around a now-unreachable Web site called RevolutionMuslim.com, at least one of whose purported leaders posted threats against South Park after the scatological cartoon series made fun of Muhammad, Jesus, and the icons of several other major religions, as well as numerous prominent Hollywood celebrities, in a two-part story celebrating the program’s 200th episode. “We were aware of the threat before it surfaced and took precautions to safeguard the offices of Comedy Central,” Browne says. He declined to discuss the security measures in further detail or to disclose how NYPD managed to get advance warning that the cartoon and its producers were going to be threatened.

sarahfrank:

Mindblowing Video of the Day: Stargate Studios’ virtual blackout reel. (AKA before and after green screen shots)

Coming to the realization that every shot I’ve ever seen on television is probably faked.

For media professionals—actors, comics, writers, producers, reporters, editors—life is a continuing struggle to trade up. They start at the margins of the business, as stringers and errand runners, and out-hustle their colleagues in the Darwinian race for the big chair on the big set. The ultimate prize is the post with the most eyeballs, the most viewers, the most subscribers, and the largest paychecks. But in the past decade, because of demographic shifts and long-term media trends, these king-of-the-hill jobs have become a sort of career poison.
Gross, on why Conan O’Brien’s move from broadcast to cable is so smart

Equality Myth: Salon: The Tina Fey Backlash and Feminists as 'Mean Girls'http://equalitymyth.com/post/521512410/salon-the-tina-fey-backlash-and-feminists-as-mean

Amen to Rebecca Traister at Salon, who writes today about the Tina Fey backlash, most-recently prompted by her “pathetic single girl” skit on last week’s SNL. Fey has been called all kinds of things, but this week, the ladybloggers of the world took it to a whole new level, questioning…

For us, the problematic one wasn’t so much the Brownie Husband skit (which, c’mon, that’s kinda clever, no?) as it was the Teacher  one; to take the most obvious example, substitute Steve Martin as the teacher daydreaming about a underage student and Miley Cyrus as the student, and this sketch looks all kind of creepy. 

The reason we pay attention to Beck is that he both comforts and flatters his audience; he makes them feel good, and good about themselves. And by “them” I mean the two groups that obsess over Beck the most: tea partiers and liberals. Tea partiers are driven by the belief that the America that elected Barack Obama isn’t their America, and Beck comforts them by telling them they’re right: that the America they love, the America they now feel so distant from, the America of faith and the Founders and some sort of idyllic Leave It to Beaver past, is still there, waiting to be awakened from Obama’s evil spell. And he flatters them by saying that the coastal elites are too stupid or too lazy to figure out what’s really going on; only his loyal viewers are perceptive enough to see the truth and, ultimately, to save the nation. In other words, Beck makes the tea partiers feel, as Hofstadter put it, as if they are “the Elect, wholly good, abominably persecuted, yet assured of ultimate triumph,” which is better than feeling disenfranchised, marginalized, and looked down upon.

For liberals, Beck serves a similar purpose. In an era of massive problems and extreme change—the Great Recession, the health-care overhaul, etc.—liberals can avoid the difficult question of whether Obama is leading America in the right direction by simply telling themselves that the only alternative would be someone like Glenn Beck: hyperbolic, demagogic, irrational, and slightly unhinged—just like all conservatives. This is comforting. And by choosing to argue against Beck’s patently absurd insinuations instead of, say, the legitimate policy proposals of someone like Rep. Paul Ryan—the progressive fact-checking site Media Matters posts about 15 anti-Beck items a day—liberals can flatter themselves into believing they’re smarter and better informed than anyone who happens to disagree with them.

If god is indeed in the details, then David Simon will someday make a most promising candidate for beatification. Simon has already come as close to living sainthood as a keyboard can get you. With The Wire, he created a dystopian simulacrum of Baltimore so sprawling and ambitious that it’s often (and justifiably) called the best television show ever made. His affinity for obsessively researched detail and his authenticity-über-alles ethos stem from his abiding love of journalism—before TV, he was a reporter at The Baltimore Sun—which is all about respecting people’s stories enough to get them right. Treme, Simon’s latest drama, is proof that you can get everything just right, and still not get it quite right.
The problem with South Park now is that being first across the finish line has become part of the brand. Whereas once the show’s creators swiftly turned around topical episodes because they could, now the South Park team is expeced to seize on the news.