A lot happened in 2016 that was regrettable, but there were some good moments too—and not just moments. Who better than David Rees to tally up the best of 2016?
Who is Alex Trebek? is a collaborative response to the massive shade thrown by the game show host recently, when he called current three-day champion Susan Cole and her fellow Nerdcore fans 'losers.'
A nine hour radio adaptation of John Milton's Paradise Lost, starring Linus Roache as Adam and Ian McDiarmid (Dragonslayer, Return of the Jedi) as Satan. [more inside]
Thanks to Sci-Fi and Horror fiction podcasts are finally a thing. or perhaps they've been a thing for a bit longer than that.
Stealing Hope: A longread series from the Charleston Post & Courier on a group of "emotional scammers" preying on increasingly desperate adoptive parents. (Design Warning: All Links Contain Autoplaying Animations)
The Hollywood Reporter has, once again, released excellent roundtable discussions with notable television actors: Comedy Actor Roundtable (Rob Lowe, Aziz Ansar, Jeffrey Tambour, Tony Hale, Anthony Anderson, Keegan-Michael Key, Jerrod Carmichael) [1h7m], Comday Actress Roundtable (Allison Janney, Lily Tomlin, Gina Rodriguez, Rachel Bloom, Niece Nash, Ilana Glazer) [52m], Drama Actor Roundtable (Cuba Goodling Jr., Rami Malek, Paul Giamatti, Forest Whitaker, Wanger Moura, Bobbay Cannavale) [55m], Drama Actress Roundtable (Kirsten Dunst, Julianna Marguiles, Jennifer Lopez, Kerry Washington, Sarah Paulson, Regina King, Constance Zimmer) [lh13m]
Dan Aykroyd grew up with psychic researchers and seances, which lead to the original Ghost Smashers idea, which in turn would become the Ghostbusters film. As he and his father, Peter, discussed on Q TV, their shared interest in the unexplained continued. A significant work of theirs was Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal, a Canadian science fiction drama television series co-created by Peter Aykroyd and Christopher Chacon, a researcher of psychic and parapsychological phenomena, and episodes are hosted by Dan Aykroyd. You can now see the show, as archived by fans, on YouTube (72 episode playlist). [more inside]
Lytton Strachey, in a sympathetic overview of his life and work, called him the Last Elizabethan. He was morbid, eccentric, and homosexual. His idiosyncratic and macabre style lives somewhere between Shakespeare and Lovecraft. In his short life he composed two complete blank-verse dramas (The Brides' Tragedy and Death's Jest-Book), dozens of shorter fragments, and scores of poems. Today, Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803-1849) is almost completely forgotten.
Creator of long-running soap opera Neighbours and widely considered "father of Australian TV" Reg Grundy dies aged 92. [more inside]
Hamilton is awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, making it the ninth musical to receive this award. The Pulitzer Prize for Drama is given "For a distinguished play by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life." [more inside]
How does a TV show go from an idea to something you can watch ? Caroline Framke spent six months following the production of an episode of FX's critically lauded spy drama 'The Americans' to find out.
‘2666,’ a Most Difficult Novel, Takes the Stage [The New York Times]
“2666,” the Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño’s darkly enigmatic, wildly digressive, sometimes densely philosophical and above all extremely long final novel, has awed, mesmerized, baffled and exasperated readers around the world since its posthumous publication in 2004. “It would take 45 minutes just to explain what the novel is about,” Mr. Falls, the longtime artistic director of the Goodman Theater here, said on a recent afternoon. But that hasn’t stopped him from turning it into a five-hour stage adaptation that begins performances on Saturday, Feb. 6, the culmination of what he describes as a nearly decade-long effort to wrestle Mr. Bolaño’s baggy monster to the theatrical ground.Previously.
In 1981, NPR affiliate station KUSC hatched a bold plan to adapt George Lucas’ Star Wars for radio. Easily the most visual film of the last decade, Star Wars as a listening experience seemed like an unlikely idea, but Lucas sold them the rights to adapt the hit movie for one dollar, and opened the Lucasfilm vaults to the show’s producers: Star Wars sound effects would be available to them in their raw form, along with every note of John Williams’ music. The cast was a mixture of original Star Wars cast members, Hollywood veterans, and future TV and movie stars still in the early stages of their careers. Novelist Brian Daley and Director John Madden then turned the first three films into "movies to watch with your eyes closed." [more inside]
In 1796, Jane Austen visited John Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery. The museum (operational from 1789-1805) was entirely devoted to specially-commissioned paintings of scenes from Shakespeare's plays, and played a significant role in shaping the dramatist's reputation during the late eighteenth century. This reconstruction of the gallery includes the catalog and the paintings that would have been hanging there in 1796 (the museum's collection ultimately included well over 150 paintings). For more information on the gallery, see the Folger Library's Marketing Shakespeare. The Romantic Illustration Network is working on digitizing extant engravings of the gallery's entire collection. Visitors to the gallery were themselves painted in 1790.
The film Alien Nation was a hit in 1988, so the fledgling Fox Network figured building off its success with a human-alien buddy cop show was a can’t-miss concept.... [more inside]
At the beginning of October, the Toronto Blue Jays at long last clinched the AL East division, ending a record 22-year drought [prev.]. Meanwhile, after a disastrous, injury-plagued 2014 season, the Texas Rangers rebounded from a late-summer nadir to improbably win the AL West title. The two teams collided in a best-of-five series -- Texas won two, then Toronto. It all came down to Wednesday night's showdown. Tied 2-2 after six, the 7th inning proceeded to unravel over the next 53 minutes in increasingly bizarre and dramatic fashion. To wit: A freak accident. A controversial call. Roars and brickbats from the crowd. The mayor tweets for calm. A comedy of errors. A violent slide. An epic home run, and an even more epic bat flip. Benches clear. Players ejected. Fans arrested. And the slap-ass heard 'round the world. [more inside]
In May 1991, ABC launched a half-hour drama series called "My Life and Times." The premise: An 85 year old man living in a retirement community in 2035 looks back on his life and shares his experiences with friends and family. Framing sequences were set in 2035 while the bulk of the episodes featured flashbacks to the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s. The show begins on April 9, 2035. [more inside]
"The room was upholstered in crimson and oatmeal and decorated with Socialist Realist frescoes of industrious maidens. A hefty multipointed star descended from the ceiling like a satellite returning from space. Above the tables a pair of identical life-size plaster statues of Soviet schoolgirls faced each other in the manner of temple guardians. They drummed on drums with a look of patriotic ecstasy; crimson blindfolds bound their eyes. Taking a swig of kvas, a fermented bread beverage that's slightly reminiscent of root beer, I wondered whether the statues were intended to be a political statement, nostalgic kitsch, or just a really ambitious exercise in color coordination." - The Surreal Thrill Of Moscow Dining by Alex Halberstadt
Oregon Shakespeare Festival Launches Three-Year Shakespeare Translation Commissioning Project [Oregon Shakespeare Festival]
OSF is commissioning 36 playwrights and pairing them with dramaturgs to translate 39 plays attributed to Shakespeare into contemporary modern English between now and December 31, 2018. By seeking out a diverse set of playwrights (more than half writers of color and more than half women), we hope to bring fresh voices and perspectives to the rigorous work of translation. Play on![more inside]
Subreddit Moderators rebel against Admins Triggered by the surprise termination of Victoria Taylor, AKA /u/chooter, Director of Talent and sole official contact for /IAMA by the Reddit admins, and more generally in protest for what has been seen as a lack of communication with and appreciation for the unpaid volunteers that act as moderators of Reddit, many of the most popular subreddits have gone dark, setting their status to private and thereby hiding their content to the vast majority of users. /r/AskReddit, /r/Books, /r/science, /r/Music, /r/gaming, /r/history, /r/art, /r/videos, /r/gadgets, and /r/movies have followed /r/IAmA in making themselves private. Many other subreddits have also taken steps in solidarity.
Remember when Captain America had a district attorney alter-ego named Grant Gardner? And he fought The Purple Death Scarab? No? Then you might need to rewatch the original 1944 Captain American Republic Serials! Bonus: The (deservedly) short lived Captain America Cartoon 1966
Cop Rock might have been one of the weirdest programs to ever air on network television. A show that "had the guts to ask a question that had been on nobody’s mind: What would you get if you merged the grit of a police procedural with the whimsy of a Broadway musical?" [more inside]
The Highwayman (1987-88) was a 60-minute sci-fi/action tv series from Glen A. Larson starring Sam J. Jones (1980's Flash Gordon). Jones played a federal marshall with a high-tech 18-wheeler "supertruck" that had advanced weaponry, the ability to turn invisible and a cab that turned into a helicopter. He patrolled America's highways and fought crime in the futuristic world of... 1992. A pilot movie, Terror on the Blacktop (starring Claudia Christian, G. Gordon Liddy, Jimmy Smits and Rowdy Roddy Piper) kicked off the series, which lasted nine episodes before driving off into the cancellation sunset. [more inside]
Suspense was a thriller-style radio drama that ran on CBS from 1942 to 1962 and is widely considered to be one of the greatest Old Time Radio (or "Golden Age Of Radio") series and model for "The Twilight Zone". In addition to theme music by Bernard Herrmann and scripts by leading mystery authors of the day, Suspense also featured a stunning roll call of big-name Hollywood stars, often playing against type or in more lurid material then the movie studios would allow. While nearly all 947 episodes are available online (exhaustively comprehensive previously) the sheer number of episodes can be daunting. Old Time Radio Review is halfway through the series with a convenient rating system to finding the best - why not enjoy these Youtube versions of a few episodes starring Judy Garland, Lucille Ball, Robert Taylor, Orson Wells, Agnes Moorehead (again), Cary Grant, and more
YouTube Comments Reconstructions are gloomy, dramatic reenactments by British actors of YouTube comment wars (including spam) about topics as varied as Nelson Mandela's death, Soccer vs Football, sexual semantics or Lil' Kim vs Niki Minaj (by the UK comedy group Dead Parrot, featuring actors Eryl Lloyd Parry, Grahame Edwards and Anthony Sergeant) (NSFW audio).
Where is the Drama takes any song input recognized by Spotify and analyses it to find the 30 seconds or so of highest drama, defined as the portion of the song with the largest increase in loudness. [more inside]
In 2008, Outside the Wire, a theater company, began productions of Sophocles' Ajax and Philoctetes to audiences of soldiers and marines returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.
And whither must I go? What end, what purpose Could urge thee to it? I am nothing, lost And dead already. Wherefore- tell me, wherefore?- Am I not still the same detested burthen, Loathsome and lame? Again must Philoctetes Disturb your holy rites? If I am with you How can you make libations? That was once Your vile pretence for inhumanity. Oh! may you perish for the deed! The gods Will grant it sure, if justice be their care And that it is I know. You had not left Your native soil to seek a wretch like me Had not some impulse from the powers above, Spite of yourselves, ordained it. O my country! And you, O gods! who look upon this deed, Punish, in pity to me, punish all The guilty band! Could I behold them perish, My wounds were nothing; that would heal them all.[more inside]
Reading Pathways: suggestions for where to start in on the works of Austen, Murakami, Asimov, Munro, Bray, Bradbury, Morrison, Forster, Atwood, and others. [more inside]
The BBC has announced that it will be producing a radio dramatization of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's book, Good Omens. The radio drama will be broadcast as six episodes in December on BBC Radio 4, and will feature Mark Heap and Peter Serafinowicz in the lead roles.
"This summer marks 20 years since Inside the Actors Studio debuted and so here are some of those appearances that both "won" and "lost" the show, those appearances which through the alchemical/semantic machinery of celebrity made their actors never less than or much too much."
The award-winning Australian television series McLeod's Daughters aired from 2001 – 2009. A drama, the story begins by following the lives of half sisters Claire and Tess McLeod, reunited after they inherit a vast outback cattle farm (“Drover’s Run”), that has been handed down through the men in their family for generations. 224 episodes were produced, and all are available on YouTube. [more inside]
Psycho-Pass is a fantastic anime written by Gen Urobuchi, the man who brought us 2011's brilliant Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Even if you are not an anime fan (I'm iffy on it myself), Psycho-Pass is worth checking out. Set in a "utopian" society where psychological profiles can be analyzed remotely, police carry guns that can only fire at would-be criminals, and aptitude tests determine how to provide "the greatest number of people with the greatest amount of happiness", Psycho-Pass asks intriguing, provocative questions about the relationships between humans and computers, criminals and society, and the responsibilities we owe society, versus the responsibilities said societies owe us in turn. There is also a good deal of people shooting each other, if you're into that sort of thing.
Psycho-Pass can be watched for free, either subbed or dubbed, at Hulu (as can Madoka if "lighthearted" "fantasy" is more your cup of tea).
Psycho-Pass can be watched for free, either subbed or dubbed, at Hulu (as can Madoka if "lighthearted" "fantasy" is more your cup of tea).
During the late 1970's and 1980's, Glen A. Larson's lighthearted television dramas were incredibly popular: Knight Rider. B.J. and the Bear. The original Battlestar Galactica. Quincy M.E. The Fall Guy. Magnum, P.I. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Larson had hit after hit and it seemed he could do no wrong. But he did produce three flops in the 80's, (and another in the 90's that managed to last two seasons): Automan, The Highwayman, Manimal and Night Man. [more inside]
After a hiatus, the smart, sweet, sharp, and often surprising webseries High Maintenance returned in past months with three new episodes. [more inside]
SCENE I.[more inside]
An Anti-Chamber in the Palace.
Enter RIGDUM-FUNNIDOS and ALDIBORONTIPHOSCOPHORNIO, courtiers.
Where left you Chrononhotonthologos?
"Every play in your season should be a premiere—a world premiere, an American premiere, or at least a regional premiere. Everybody has to help. Directors: Find a new play to help develop in the next 12 months. Actors: Ditto. Playwrights: Quit developing your plays into the ground with workshop after workshop after workshop—get them out there. Critics: Reward theaters that risk new work by making a special effort to review them." -Ten Things Theaters Need to Do Right Now to Save Themselves
How the Golden Globes definition of "musical or comedy" has been stretched to the limit and why that matters
Richard Pryor moved to New York City in 1963, where he performed regularly in clubs alongside performers such as Bob Dylan and Woody Allen. He even opened for singer and pianist Nina Simone, who talked of his early nervousness, when she put her "arms around him there in the dark and rocked him like a baby until he calmed down." You can see something of that young man in this clip of Pryor singing a bit of jazzy blues in 1966. The performance is also available on YouTube with slightly better quality, but faded in from different scene. [more inside]
“People have this idea, because it’s a ‘community’ garden, you’ll have a bunch of people sitting around holding hands, singing ‘Kumbaya,’” says Julie Beals, executive director of the Los Angeles Community Garden Council (LACGC ). “Have you seen an actual community?”
With the momentous series finale of Breaking Bad just hours away, fans of the show are hungry for something, anything to wile away the time before the epic conclusion tonight. So why not kick back and chew the fat with your fellow MeFites with the help of a little tool I like to call "The Periodic Table of Breaking Bad." [more inside]
Francesco Francavilla is an artist who has been producing minimalist posters for each of the last 8 episodes of Breaking Bad.
Dr. Donna Nelson is the science advisor for Breaking Bad. After reading an interview where show creator Vince Gilligan said no one on the show's staff had a scientific background, she reached out to the Breaking Bad creator. The rest is history.