Monday, April 21, 2014

Theme: Television

  • Matt Weiner’s speedy, superficial finale leaves us with all “characters” acting out of character, all for the sake of a fake “epiphany” moment, familiar to every New Yorker moving to California, going to A.A., confessing to a group of confessors. All this after critics uniformly “blamed” Don Draper for “not changing.” Well, change he did and it isn’t a pretty picture… no one steps forward during Don’s psychotic break. Peggy turns vamp then shrew; Ted turns cad, Betty is talking good vs. bad.Read more
  • My friends imagined that I was joking, that I was being my usual haughty, hi-culture, Europhile self. How can I get the message across? No matter how often I attempt to explain this, no one believes me: I am essentially a lo-culture kind of guy. Or, rather, I deny the legitimacy of the distinction. I do not believe that there is anything more earnest in Ernstkultur than in Unterhaltung. Read more
  • Homeland is an inside look into who is keeping America safe from terrorist attacks. Answer: it’s a 33 year-old woman named Carrie, whose sex life is under surveillance. Carrie, played by Claire Danes, was 21 when 9/11 happened. For some inexplicable reason, she can’t forgive herself for not preventing the attacks.Read more
  • There’s a scene in Breaking Bad, a third of the way through the 54 episodes shot and screened on US TV so far, that marks a significant moment in the gradual passage of its central character, Walter White, from hero to villain. Walter, a middle-aged high school chemistry teacher who’s become a manufacturer of illegal drugs, is walking down the aisle of a DIY superstore in his home town of Albuquerque, New Mexico, buying paint for his basement, when another customer’s laden trolley catches his eye.Read more
  • Thelonious Monk performs at the Marquee Club in London, March 14, 1965. This excerpt of the performance was shown on Jazz 625, one of the first programs broadcast on BBC2.Read more
  • I realize that there are a lot of confused and angry people out there complaining that this episode of Three's Company, which I have retitled as Jack Man #3, is only eight minutes long with no sound.Read more
  • The competition show Survivor just began its 25th season in the United States, and while any stigma associated with watching the show has almost completely faded, it nonetheless still gets grouped into the wide expanse of “reality television.” But that label, which tends to carry such negative associations, doesn’t actually fit Survivor.Read more
  • Dying in Albuquerque can be the breaking point for anyone, believe me. Walter White, of Breaking Bad, and I were diagnosed with cancer the same week. I have no idea how long Walter White has lived in Albuquerque but I had only lived here a few months when I was diagnosed.Read more
  • Mad Men has given me many hours of quality escapism. My involvement with the characters, through four seasons, provided me with a rare opportunity to connect deeply with imaginary companions. It allowed me to leave my life and its pressures for forty three minutes at a time. That’s not a small thing. Quality television and film allows our world to expand. But characters must show consistency or the viewer is distracted and the magical connection to fantasy is lost.Read more
  • The children of 1960s who rebelled against their parents’ expectations decided to raise a kinder, gentler generation. They surrounded their babies with Mozart in utero, and from nursery school on, these Boomer parents sent their precious little ones to the best schools they really couldn’t afford, and buoyed up any glimpse of possible talent their child might exhibit. Read more
  • Throughout the course of 20th century, many great writers elaborated on their perceptions of zeitgeists that defined popular culture. Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone, was one of the most successful. His science fiction series, which ran on CBS from 1959 to 1964, presented entertaining storylines covering a wide range of topics, including invaders from outer space, deadbeats inheriting mystical powers and a talking doll that murdered Telly Savalas.Read more
  • Much has been written about Matthew Weiner’s meticulous rendering of the '60s in his mega-hit, Mad Men. A lot has been said about set design and historical references, replete with memorabilia, but the real strength of Mad Men has always rested in its vivid character depictions, solid storytelling and brilliant dialogue.Read more
  • The only recent Westerns that have managed to arouse my enthusiasm have been those made for TV: Walter Hill’s Broken Trail, and Deadwood, whose third and final season no one has even bothered to bring out on DVD in Spain, which gives you some idea of how unsuccessful the magnificent first two series must have been. In my view, Kevin Costner’s Open Range,Read more
  • The name Rod Serling is associated with mind-bending narratives and imaginative tales of science fiction. This reputation is largely due to his magnum opus, the Twilight Zone, which has guaranteed his status in the canon of significant American television writers. Read more
  • In a recent NPR piece TV critic Eric Deggans cites shows like "Hell on Wheels," Sons of Anarchy," "Dexter," and "Breaking Bad" as evidence of a proliferations of television programs featuring "characters the audience likes and wants to see succeed, even though they act an awful lot like villains."Read more
  • Borrowing a line from his Frankfurt School colleague Leo Löwenthal, Theodor Adorno once derided the mindlessness of the idiot box as ‘psychoanalysis in reverse’, a backwards medium enforcing conformity, distraction and the programmed life.Read more
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