"I had Dave’s voice all analyzed and figured out, because not only did I live with him, but I was preoccupied with creating a show that would please him. Nowadays we call that sort of thing “co-dependence.” But in those days I simply called it “being head writer.”.Mike Sacks' [previously] extended interview with Late Night‘s original head writer, Merrill Markoe.
Did you ever notice that almost every Mad Men episode ends with Don Draper staring blankly? [more inside]
Reconsidering 'The Wire' Amidst the Baltimore Uprising (Dave Zirin for The Nation)
In the late seventies and early eighties TV stations embraced the video game craze by granting lucky viewers the chance to play them on the air by shouting POW! into their phone. [more inside]
What's it like to be one of the Jeopardy! clue writers? The A.V. Club interviews Billy Wisse, who has worked at Jeopardy! as researcher, proofreader, and writer since 1990, and as head writer since 2011.
The Four Worst Types of TV Critics In all four cases—the Theorists, the Activists, the Purists, and the Partisans—we’re treating the inherently subjective fields of art and art criticism as things we can be objectively right about. We’re taking work that’s complex and capable of conveying multiple contradictory meanings and reducing it to a simple either/or, yes/no proposition. In other words, we’re fucking up.
"Everybody kind of gravitated towards this idea of a TV turning on, and out of this static comes this resolved HBO logo that lifts itself out of normal television series.” (via Playboy) [more inside]
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]
This Tuesday through Thursday (April 14th to 16th) is the latest Jeopardy! online contestant test. Are you ready? [more inside]
In the upcoming A&E "docudrama" 8 Minutes, Santa Ana vice cop-turned-pastor Kevin Brown, founder of the faith-based non-profit Safe Passage OC, poses as a john and tries to convince sex workers to leave the life. Backed by a team of volunteers, including former sex workers, Brown gives himself eight minutes to make his pitch - ideally before a pimp suspects something is up - and offers to connect the women with shelter, addiction and employment services if they want. Not all of them do. Of course, it's all filmed. (Sex workers' faces are blurred.) And perhaps inevitably, it's drawing significant criticism for putting a vulnerable population at greater risk. [more inside]
The Many Faces of Tatiana Maslany [New York Times]
In portraying a horde of clones on ‘Orphan Black,’ the actress has created TV’s strangest — and most sophisticated — meditation on femininity.Previously. Previously. Previously.
In the 80's and 90's, Robert Norman "Bob" Ross gave us The Joy of Painting. In each minimalist, 30-minute show, he would create an imaginary landscape using a wet-on-wet (or alla prima) oil painting technique while gently teaching viewers his methods. His signature, soothing comments described the "happy little clouds," "almighty mountains" and "happy little trees" that he was creating with his brush. Of the 31 seasons and 403 episodes that aired on PBS, the Internet Archive currently has the first 19 seasons (247 episodes) available for stream and download. [more inside]
In 13-minute harrowing and graphic long take/oner, Quebec police drama 19-2 takes the viewer inside a school shooting. [more inside]
A TV pilot which failed to attract sponsors, After Hours carries all the poignance of a noble lost cause. Despite a certain self-consciousness in presentation, which clearly aims at winning over a recalcitrant audience, some of the best jazz ever recorded on film is available here. After an opening montage devoted to Manhattan jazz clubs accompanied by the narrator’s patter (“This is my beat — the jazz beat”), one is introduced to the ‘cigarette girl’ and ‘doorman’ at the “After Hours Club,” complete with fictional glosses (the girl is an “aspiring actress”). But as soon as Coleman Hawkins enters, joins the rhythm section on the bandstand and launches into a gorgeous version of “Lover Man,” the film properly gets down to business.Jonathan Rosenbaum on After Hours (1961), featuring Johnny Guarnieri, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Barry Galbraith, Milt Hinton, Cozy Cole, and Carol Stevens. [more inside]
Javier Grillo-Marxuach [prev: 1 2 3], a writer on the first two seasons of Lost [prev: 1 2 3 4], attempts to answer the question “Did we know what we were doing, or were we just making it up as we went along?” Much like the TV series itself, the answer turns out to be much more complicated than it seems. [A 17,000-word memoir].
Peter Watts (previously) tours the FX house responsible for Hannibal's bodies. Meanwhile Neil Marshall and Vincenzo Natali are to direct episodes of the show.
The changing — and unchanging — structure of TV. A discussion of the television industry, its pieces and parts; how the money flows and the dependencies bind; how it changed with the rise of cable and again with the advent of streaming; and how Apple's rumored web TV service won't save consumers or make Apple much money.
#16: Used a magnifying glass made of a hairpin and wine to read names of spies from a watch.A list of all the problems solved by MacGyver [more inside]
When British daytime TV and geek heroes collide... a collection of youtube interviews with various sf, horror, fantasy people such as Terry Pratchett, several Dr Whos and William Shatner on various lightweight UK tv chatshows from years past
Sex Box: [YouTube]
Sex Box: A television show where people have sex in a box and three total strangers gossip about their box sex.via: The Verge
Sam Simon, writer, producer, philanthropist and co-creator of The Simpsons has passed away of colorectal cancer at the age of 59. Previously.
"Blank Page" Taylor Swift meets "Game of Thrones."
Last year Jimmy Kimmel teamed up with Snoop Dogg to produce the nature series, Plizzanet Earth. In the latest episode, Snoop Dogg tackles Otters vs. Crocs. (Mostly bleeped but probably NSFW for a few people.) [more inside]
Character actor Daniel Von Bargen ("Seinfeld", "Lord of Illusions", "Super Troopers") has died at the age of 64. One tragic footnote is his 2012 suicide attempt that led to his long illness. Here are some facts about Diabetes and Depression and, as always, there is help for those who need it. (Post Title Quote here)
The concept first bubbled up out of the pop-cultural ether when competitive reality shows hit upon their formula, in the form of “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race.” TV enthusiasts — part fan, part Roland Barthes with a TiVo — congregated on online message boards like Television Without Pity, creating a new slang with which to dis and deconstruct their favorites. Fifteen years later, the critical language used to carve up the phonies, saints and sad-sack wannabes of reality shows has migrated, and the loser edit has become a limber metaphor for exploring our own real-world failures. Colson Whitehead: The ‘Loser Edit’ That Awaits Us All
Empire is a Monster That Is Eating Network Television - Buzzfeed, Feb. 26, 2015:
"When it comes to ratings, Fox’s Empire is on a trajectory that’s unprecedented in broadcast television’s recent history, which has mostly been marked by — to appropriate a phrase from Hakeem Lyon (Bryshere Y. Gray) — drip drops, if not just plain old slaughter. As of last week, it is the No. 1 show on network television in the 18 to 49 demographic advertisers seek. And once again, the show built on its ratings this week."[more inside]
"We don't want them to see diversity as a burden or a moral obligation. We want them to see it as a business imperative."UCLA’s Bunche Center for African American Studies has released its 2015 Hollywood Diversity Report: Flipping The Script [PDF]. The Hollywood Reporter has the exclusive story (with lots of sidebars.)
"I tilted my head in cartoon-like confusion. Where had he picked that up? Bruce Lee? He knew nothing of martial arts nor had he ever watched Kung Fu Panda (this is where my brain went). So I asked Noah to repeat himself. Perhaps I’d misunderstood or heard it incorrectly."
Cable TV is speeding up its shows slightly to show you more ads. The Wall Street Journal has more including a side-by-side comparison video a sharp eyed viewer made of a "Seinfeld" episode.
It could have been the greatest television show ever. Conceived by Harlan Ellison. Ben Bova acting as technical advisor. Special effects genius Douglas Trumbull was on board. Scripts and storylines had been contracted from Phillip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, Frank Herbert, Joanna Russ, Thomas M. Disch, Alexei Panshin and A.E. van Vogt. Keir Dullea starred. (Dave from 2001: A Space Odyssey). Guest stars: John "Baltar" Colicos (Battlestar Galactica), Walter Koenig (Star Trek) and Barry Morse (Space:1999). And then it all fell apart. In all, 16 deliciously terrible episodes of The Starlost were made. Was it the worst science fiction series ever? Watch and decide for yourself! [more inside]
Put down the boom box: 28 romantic gestures from Film, Television and Music that are actually creepy (SingleLinkAVClub)
She was a highly- prolific actress of the ’50’s/’60’s/’70’s/’80’s, a record-setting female aviator, an original member of the AFI Directing Workshop for Women, and one of the only women directing major TV shows in the 1980’s. Tragically taken by cancer in 1990, she’s been inexplicably forgotten by the industry to which she gave so much of herself.You probably know her as that green Orion slave girl from the Star Trek episode The Menagerie, but Susan Oliver was much more than that, as the documentary The Green Girl attempts to show.
Do you love to hate TV? Join the podcast The Televoid as they "travel to the deepest depths bad TV has gone." [more inside]
How Quincy M.E. Changed American Law and Saved Lives discusses the serendipitous way that a young man's need for medication for Tourette's syndrome came to the attention of a family member of actor Jack Klugman and resulted in the Orphan Drug Act of 1983. (main article by MeFi's own Garius) [more inside]
Want to hear Martellus Bennett's thoughts about fonts, including bold? Curious to see an impression of Regis Philbin doing an impression of Nicholas Cage eating too hot soup in Bangkok Dangerous? Ever wanted to find out what would happen when Adam "Not A Great Fit For Guest Host of the Late Late Show" Pally acted as guest host of the Late Late Show? During a snow storm? In front of no studio audience? With no laugh track but the muffled responses of the crew, who apparently hate him? With his trusted companion, Ben Schwartz, at his side, Adam Pally made a nearly unimaginable, nearly incomprehensible, at least partially unintentionally brilliant and absurd hour-long mockery of the late show format. Watch it all. [more inside]
On the eve of the premiere of his sitcom, Eddie Huang (previously) aka Rich Homie Huang aka Sars Blackmon aka the Human Panda gets profiled by Wesley Yang (previously) in the New York Times. [more inside]
"I think a lot of men are scared to act opposite a woman who is as funny as they are, and who will give them a run for their money for being the funniest person in that project,” he says. “And I think a lot of times she doesn’t get cast in things because she’s so funny, and I think that’s fucked up.”Kaitlin Olson And The Perils Of Being A (Funny) Woman In Hollywood [more inside]
Robert Kinoshita, the production designer and art director who created Forbidden Planet's Robby the Robot and Lost In Space's B-9 Environmental Control Robot [previously], has passed away at the age of 100.
This project analyzes The Dukes of Hazzard as a representation of the contemporary white southern working class and its validity, and how this characterization fed the appetites of both Southerners and non-Southerners alike in the early 1980s. [more inside]
"As Maggie Gyllenhaal put it in accepting an award for her performance in 'The Honorable Woman': 'What I see, actually, are women who are sometimes powerful and sometimes not, sometimes sexy, sometimes not, sometimes honorable, sometimes not. And what I think is new is the wealth of roles for actual women in television and in film.'" The 'strong female character' is dead. All hail the complicated woman., by Alyssa Rosenberg for The Washington Post. [more inside]
Eddie Huang on the making of a tv show about his memoir growing up Chinese in the US. (slVulture) [more inside]
YouTube user Mario Wienerroither (previously) has turned his attention away from music videos to something new to remove music from: The opening credits of "Macgyver".