There’s no formula for good TV. Networks and studios shuffle through hundreds of new projects every year, but when it comes down to it, it’s easier remake, reboot, or sequelize. Throughout the 2000s, NBC struggled to bring highly popular and influential BBC television stateside, giving The Office and Coupling, in particular, some love, American style. While Coupling quickly careened off into TV hell, The Office hit the ground, got back up, and found its voice. The show evolved into itself.
It’s interesting to watch those early episodes of The Office. Near line-for-line retellings of its British counterpart, NBC’s The Office never really clicks in its debut season. Michael [...]
My first experience with comedian/ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, unbeknownst to me, came from a t-shirt in the mall. I didn’t know what I was looking at, this turbaned skull with bloodshot eyes above the phrase “Silence! I Kill You.” What does this mean? What was it for? Had the tidal wave of Middle Eastern stereotypes extended to cheap-o t-shirts available between the Starbucks and Auntie Anne’s? What the hell was going on here?
It wasn’t until an October, 2009 episode of 30 Rock, “Stone Mountain,” that my questions were answered. In this episode, Liz goes in search of a new TGS cast member, and Jack sends her to find a [...]
Barry Levinson's 1982 film Diner is a classic. Funny, original, and engrossing, it has been credited with influencing a huge swath of what we consider to be the best comedy in movies and television over the past twenty or so years. It paid attention to the seemingly mundane past-time of young adults in their early twenties bullshitting about everything and nothing, making the art of talking around a topic of dubious significance in circles no longer just for middle aged men (John Cassavetes' Husbands) or specifically for Wallace Shawn (My Dinner With Andre). As S.L. Price noted in his Vanity Fair article about the movie in 2012, it [...]
Somewhere around the mid-2000s, coincidentally the same time when every TV writer was fired and all good ideas were banished from the Earth, celebrity-based reality television, or Celebreality as VH1 forced everyone to call it, invaded television and all the networks were relieved to no longer call upon such burdens as story and character to sell ad time. NBC, of course, had The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice, with Donald Trump's “You’re fired”s serving as a perfect catchphrase for the economic meltdown on the horizon. Not to be outdone, ABC launched Dancing with the Stars, MTV had The Osbournes, and, the reigning overlords of Celebreality, VH1, struck gold The Surreal Life. And [...]
Sometimes TV shows drag their unfunny, uninteresting, yet highly rated feet across our living rooms for years. “Who let this happen?” we cry in vain. Other times, the powers that be get things right. That’s where Brilliantly Canceled comes in, looking at the shows that didn’t make it past their first season and saved us all a ton of grief.
Writers adapt all types of stories to the screen. Whether they be based on works of fiction, like novels, comics, or plays; myths, handed down from generation to generation; or even real stories that happened to real people. All of them, however, communicate the subtle and not-so-subtle moments of [...]