The God of ‘SNL’ Will See You Now. "How do you please Lorne Michaels? Twenty-two ‘Saturday Night Live’ cast members – and one who came close – share tales of the audition that can make or break a career." Also, extended interviews with Kristin Wiig, Will Ferrel, Chevy Chase, Dana Carvey, Jimmy Fallon and Molly Shannon, on what it took to get hired for 'SNL.' Check out audition tapes from: Phil Hartman, Andy Kaufman, John Belushi, Jimmy Fallon, Dana Carvey: 1 & 2, and Dan Aykroyd. [more inside]
A “very special” Diff’rent Strokes that’s terrifying for all the wrong reasons. The AV Club looks at a "very special" episode of Diff'rent Strokes as part of their TV Roundtable, which lately has been focused on controversial episodes: Ellen, Amos & Andy, South Park, I Love Lucy [more inside]
Grantland writers put in their two cents on the all-time great drinking scenes in TV and movies (Available on Youtube Edition). [more inside]
Sherlock Holmes gets to be brilliant, solitary, abrasive, Bohemian, whimsical, brave, sad, manipulative, neurotic, vain, untidy, fastidious, artistic, courteous, rude, a polymath genius. Female characters get to be Strong. - I hate Strong Female Characters.
The X-Files 20th anniversary reunion panel at San Diego Comic-Con (Youtube) (Podcast version here) (Summary and slideshow), featuring Chris Carter, Vince Gilligan, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Darin Morgan, Glen Morgan, Jim Wong, John Shiban, Howard Gordon and James Amann. sex scenes, a third movie and Home are discussed. The Lone Gunmen will return in Season 10. The Guardian picks 13 best X-Files episodes but somehow misses Jose Chung's From Outer Space.
The Solarnauts could've been a groovy, British Star Trek but unfortunately the pilot was never broadcast. Produced by Roberta Leigh and Arthur Provis, starrring John Garfield as "Power" and Derek Fowlds as "Tempo", it's now available in all its Gery Andersonesque glory on Youtube.
The Daily .WAV has been online for at least fifteen years, bringing you fresh soundclips every day! Search the vast library to your heart's content.
It goes back to honoring Thomas Harris and imagery we have in the books, in the Hannibal Lecter books. So we knew that we had to have fantastic imagery that you wouldn’t see on another crime-procedural show. Being competitive and wanting to be completely different from what you see on other shows, which is usually, on a crime procedural you see a body in a room splayed out and blood, but you rarely get to see people covered with mushrooms or impaled on severed stag heads or blood eagled and the totem pole. We would sit in the room and say, “What is the image? What is the death tableau? What are we going to see that’s going to be so striking and cinematic and beautiful at the same time, but will actually be a horrible crime scene?” So every crime scene that we have has to have this element of beauty and art to it.Bryan Fuller, showrunner for NBC's Hannibal (previously), discusses each episode of the first season with the AV Club. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4.
For over five years, journalist and TV presenter Ding Yu headed up a massively popular Chinese TV talk show. Every week, She would sit down with convicted murderers and interview them about their life and crimes, before they were taken out and put to death by either firing squad or lethal injection. The show, "Interviews Before Execution", was taken off the air in March 2012. [more inside]
Fan's of cult 90's UK children Television shows rejoice, Knightmare, the virtual reality kids show is back for a one off episode. [more inside]
The term EGOT, popularized by 30 Rock, refers to winning an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony award. Only eleven people have done it. Composer Alan Menken, just nominated for an Emmy, could become the 12th. 30 Rock, oddly enough, happens to be nominated in the same category. [more inside]
Ken Levine's network notes for Under The Dome, perhaps not the best example of Stephen King's TV work.
Credits mashups or remixes are a Youtube meme with a simple concept: create a intro sequence for one show using the music and style of another show's credits. Some drastically change the story or tone of a series, some play up similarities between two shows, some provide a more glossy intro for shows that originally relied on a title card or an unpopular credits sequence, and some just seem to happen because people really like "Ballad of Serenity." [more inside]
SNL's Bill Hader, Rob Klein, and Jon Solomon discuss "Song for Daddy", the sketch with host Justin Bieber that never made it past dress rehearsal.
Perhaps the most dangerous effect of the Big Crunch mentality has been to make television creators think of themselves as auteurs, to convince them that in spite of the massive interference with their work, they can somehow create a work of aesthetic integrity and sociological insight even if they don’t know where it’s going. Well, sometimes you get lucky, but more often, the result is disaster, and the effort spent toward that failure is redirected from where it would be better put: creating great trash. An essay on the challenges and pitfalls of writing serialized TV plots from The American Reader. [more inside]
Our digital recorders cut off the last minutes of sporting events and our favorite shows. That doesn’t happen in Europe.
One of the many things that sets NBC's Hannibal apart is how it treats the violence it shows. The finale for the first season aired last night, bringing to a close a season of television that most seem to regard as unexpectedly excellent, and a second season is on the way. This interview with the show's creator, Bryan Fuller who previously created Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies, touches on the reasoning behind the heightened, stylized murders. A second part that deals more directly with the contents of the finale went up shortly after it had aired.
Legendary Mad Men blog "Mad Style" sets out to explain Bob Benson to a twenty-first century that is apparently ill-prepared to understand him. [more inside]
The recent Netflix House of Cards series starring Kevin Spacey was a remake of a very popular British political thriller of the same name that aired during the 90's. The show begins by tracking the dark political machinations and skullduggery of an urbane Chief Whip of the Conservative Party, who is conspiring to become Prime Minister after Margaret Thatcher's resignation. [more inside]
Broadway stars Andrew Rannells (of the now-cancelled TV show The New Normal), Megan Hilty (of the now-cancelled TV show Smash), and Laura Benanti (of the now-cancelled Go On AND The Playboy Club) join host Neil Patrick Harris at the 2013 Tony Awards to sing the joys and heartaches of Broadway-actors hiting the small screen. [more inside]
There was no wink and they never sold it out for these half-hour, densely, beautifully produced pieces, which is, for all possibilities, obscuring that this doesn’t at all sound like a comedy show. It is all the production elements you would use in a full-scale news production. All the gravitas, but just inflated to a point that it has no gravitas whatsoever. And I think that is where it became this excitingly subversive thing because it just showed that BBC Radio 4 and everything it stood for was just a big bag of shit.John Oliver on why he's a fan of On the Hour. On the Hour, of course, is the legendary BBC news radio program created by, among other people, Armando Iannucci (The Thick of It, In The Loop, Veep), Christopher Morris (Jam, Brass Eye, Four Lions, Why Bother?), Stewart Lee (41st best stand-up comic ever), and Steve Coogan (Knowing Me Knowing You With Alan Partridge, I'm Alan Partridge). Short-lived but influential, On the Hour mimicked the tone and production of other radio news shows but replaced the content with what Oliver describes as "unremitting bullshit". On the Hour was aired in two six-episode series (S1E1 S1E2 S1E3 S1E4 S1E5 S1E6; S2E1 S2E2 S2E3 S2E4 S2E5 S2E6), and begat a television series called The Day Today. That show in turn added Graham Linehan (Black Books, Father Ted, The IT Crowd) to On the Hour's already all-star lineup, upped the already-insane levels of overproduction, and ran for six short-but-glorious episodes (one two three four five (WAR!) six), as well as a special 9/11 radio report. [more inside]
It's been twenty-five years since the Punky Brewster series finale. Wonder what Soleil Moon Frye's been up to in the meantime? She's now an author, does voice acting, and a mom. Catch up with her here, read about the real life girl on which Punky was based, or head below the jump to catch up on four years' worth of viewing pleasure. [more inside]
UFO is a 1970 British science fiction television series about a secret military organization which defends the Earth from Alien invaders. The series was created by Gerry & Sylvia Anderson, who previously created the "Supermarionation" puppet TV series in the 1960's (Thunderbirds, Fireball XL-5), and would later create Space: 1999. The production is highly stylized, from the cars, hair styles, and future fashions to Ebert-worthy parties of the future, mesh space shirts and groovy theme music. [more inside]
If you were watching late-night television in July 1998 you may have seen the half-hour informercial parody that the Beastie Boys produced to promote their upcoming album, Hello Nasty. The ad features Mike D, MCA , and Ad-Rock taking on roles to shill everything from the services of phone psychics to get-rich-quick scams to a food processor that plays songs from the upcoming LP. (Warning: video auto-loads.) [more inside]
Microsoft has unveiled their new console, and it wants to dominate your living room. How Xbox One plans to fight Sony, Steam, and everything else.
Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts: From 1958-1973, composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein (Previously on MeFi) played live, educational concerts with the New York Philharmonic that were televised nationwide on CBS. Tapes of the broadcasts were eventually syndicated to 40 countries, introducing an entire generation of children to a wide range musical concepts, styles and composers. The first concert to air was "What Does Music Mean." [more inside]
Recurring Developments: An interactive visualization of running jokes in Arrested Development
Coming this September: Joss Whedon has a new TV show set in the Avengers verse starring Agent Phil Coulson: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. [slyt]
"Now, my friend Adams was accused of a crime he didn't commit, so he escaped into the mountains, leaving behind the only life that he ever knew." In 1977, three years after the popular movie The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams introduced the story of John "Grizzly" Adams to the public, a TV show of the same name premiered. [more inside]
In Defense of Betty. "I’ve always thought that the whole point is that Betty is a victim of her time and circumstances, of the very narrow, constricted gender roles (remember the ill-fitting dress she’s holding up against herself as she contemplates being a political wife) that she and women like her were forced — expected, if that seems less loaded — to assume. Those roles were deforming, and, sure enough, they’ve deformed Betty." [more inside]
Aereo is a web service that allows subscribers to watch broadcast TV on their computers or mobile devices. The broadcast networks are furious. Aereo is ready for a PR fight, and is currently winning the legal battle. Variety wonders: Is Aereo Actually a Good Thing? [more inside]
Between 1986 and 1993, rather than showing a test pattern, Global Television would, in the dead hours of the night, broadcast long videos of walking and driving through Toronto. [more inside]
An Orange Prize nominee speaks out about her experience as a woman in literature: weakened titles, pink covers, snubbed for reviews. [more inside]
Mad Men Season 6 (and simultaneous saturation coverage) begins again tonight. As the show winds down, along with the decade that defined it, the 1960s, critics are wondering "What's the best ending for the best series on TV? Can it survive the onset of the 1970s?"
VOISEOVER: In a Citey wher thers Somuchcrimes , theDetetcive is onthe Case... DETETCIVE: Stop crimeing! VOISEOVER: But Oneproblam... Crimer! (Single link Twitter feed.)
If Matt Lauer doesn’t want to be seen with sharp knives, it’s because last summer his co-host Ann Curry was discovered with one in her back. Five million viewers, the majority of them women, would not soon forget how Curry, the intrepid female correspondent and emotionally vivid anchor, spent her last appearance on the Today show couch openly weeping, devastated at having to leave after only a year. The image of Matt Lauer trying to comfort her—and of Curry turning away from his attempted kiss—has become a kind of monument to the real Matt Lauer, forensic evidence of his guilt. What followed was the implosion of the most profitable franchise in network television.
Memories of BBC Television Centre. The British Broadcasting Corporation's central production hub for the past fifty years closes this week (though parts of it will reopen soon as a post-production facility). There have been many hagiographies, but this is perhaps the most poignant. It's a building full of the memories of millions, good and bad (SLYT).
Mad Men + Mean Girls = Mean Mad Men.
The Nielsen Family Is Dead. Nielsen Now Tracks (Almost) Everything You Buy: Credit, Debit and Bank Data Now Combined With TV, Online Viewing. Nielsen Offers Focus on ‘Zero-TV’ Homes. Nielsen Agrees to Expand Definition of TV Viewing. The 23,000 U.S. homes Nielsen currently samples are going to see some changes this year. [more inside]
Inventions that Changed the World is a 2004 BBC Miniseries in the vein of Connections (previously) hosted by Jeremy Clarkson (yes the Top Gear guy). The Gun. The Computer. The Jet. The Telephone. The Television
"This week ABC Family did something that no commercial television channel in the United States had ever done: It broadcast an entire episode of a show, “Switched at Birth,” in American Sign Language, with next to no oral dialogue."
Beyond the Swanson. Paste interviews Nick Offerman.
For your enjoyment: detailed floor plan drawings of popular TV and film homes.
The best of the worst of the oh-so-watchable cringe-fest that was Legends of the Hidden Temple.
Enlightened is TV’s best show right now—and it needs more viewers. Written by Mike White (School of Rock and Freaks and Geeks, among others) and starring Laura Dern (also the show's co-creator, Luke Wilson, Diane Ladd, and Timm Sharp (aka Marshall from Undeclared), the show has also seen an impressive line-up of guest directors, including Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs), Phil Morrison (Junebug), James Bobin (Flight of the Conchords), and Todd Haynes (I'm Not There). The show's range is astonishing – it depicts its main character as cringeworthily oblivious, yet also lets her deliver monologues which are unusually sincere for a comedy; some of its characters are ridiculous and absurd, while others are capable of deep melancholy. Mike White talks to Interview Magazine about creating Enlightened before its premiere; a year later, he talks to Indiewire about why people have such a hard time sympathizing with Amy.