Category Archive 'Television'
21 May 2010

“I Leave the Field of Ideas to Doctor Schweitzer and Doctor Zhivago”

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Vladimir Nabokov

From the history of American television:

In the 1950’s ABC television Close-up! documentary series, John Daly interviews Vladimir Nabokov and Lionel Trilling, pt. 1 — 5:41 video — pt. 2 5:51 video

Nabokov lispingly delivers dismissive apothegms in an effete and frivolous style inevitably reminding one of Anthony Blanche, while Trilling is earnest, grave, serious, and sometimes just a bit obsequious.

Great lines:

“I don’t want to touch hearts, and I don’t even want to affect minds very much. What I want to produce is really that little sob in the spine of the artist reader. I leave the field of ideas to Doctor Schweitzer and Doctor Zhivago.”

“It was fun to breed her in my laboratory,” says Vladimir Nabokov of Lolita.

Hat tip to Cynical-C via David Ross.

10 May 2010

Down With Steve Baldwin, Up With Joss Whedon

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I’m not sure what those two guys have to do with one another, but the video is amusing, Karen and I both like Joss Whedon‘s shows (Dollhouse not so much), and I tend to feel a personal responsibility in blogging to include as much Glenn Reynolds-friendly libertarian nerd culture material as possible. Besides, when I blog it, that means I don’t have to email it to friends.

2:10 video

Whedonesque — key Whedon fan-site providing information on new Whedon programming and a lot more than I want to know.

Hat tip to Brett via Karen L. Myers.

21 Apr 2010

“The Dark, Dark Hours”

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Ronald Reagan takes on James Dean in 6:03 video highlights from 1954 GE Home Theater drama “The Dark, Dark Hours.”

Appropriately enough, Ronald Reagan is a physician defending decency, home, and family. James Dean (who would get killed in an accident with his Porsche 550 Spyder a little over nine months later) plays a youthful criminal. 1950s criminality is represented as childishly impulsive, weak, neurotically insecure, and determined to express a transgressive subcultural identity by the use of hipster slang and a loud musical background of progressive jazz. The same dramatization would not be much different today in most respects. The criminal youth, of course, wouldn’t be white and blond. The music wouldn’t be jazz and the modernist patois would be different, but the same kind of childishness and the same sort of futile attempt to obtain respect through violence would work exactly the same way in an updated version just fine.

08 Feb 2010

Parody News Report

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This parody perfectly captures the preferred format of a television news report.

2:04 video

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

21 Jan 2010

Who’s Winning the Ratings War?

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TUES. JAN. 19, 2010

FOXNEWS BECK 3,446,000
FOXNEWS SHEP 3,241,000
CNN KING 1,681,000
CNN COOPER 1,508,000
CNN BROWN 1,308,000
MSNBC MADDOW 1,236,000
CNN BLITZER 1,135,000

21 Jan 2010

Major Severance Package

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I never watch late night talk shows, so I couldn’t possibly understand why NBC is paying Conan O’Brien and his staff $44 million to leave. Maybe it was what Nancy DeWolf Smith described as his “part Peter Pan, part Chucky doll” shtick that makes his removal worth that kind of money.

11 Jan 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

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The courage of the elite: Metropolitan Museum prudentially removes images of Mohammed and renames Islamic Galleries.


High rise buildings in Mecca make it evident that roughly 200 mosques are pointing in the wrong direction.


Crime pays in Norway.. Foreigners qualify for welfare after a year in jail. If they serve three years, they get health benefits and qualify for old age pension. Hat tip to the News Junkie.


Lawsuit begins in California federal court contending that the US Constitution mandates Gay Marriage. Wouldn’t Gouverneur Morris be surprised?


Obama postpones State of the Union address in order to avoid preempting season opener of Lost.

04 Nov 2009

V = O

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The Chicago Tribune gleefully welcomes a new primetime Sci Fi drama which premiered on ABC last night. One of the principal aliens is played by Morena Baccarin, who was the beautiful courtesan in Firefly/Serenity.

The new show’s plot features some amusing parallels to reality.

Imagine this. At a time of political turmoil, a charismatic, telegenic new leader arrives virtually out of nowhere. He offers a message of hope and reconciliation based on compromise and promises to marshal technology for a better future that will include universal health care.

The news media swoons in admiration — one simpering anchorman even shouts at a reporter who asks a tough question: “Why don’t you show some respect?!” The public is likewise smitten, except for a few nut cases who circulate batty rumors on the Internet about the leader’s origins and intentions. The leader, undismayed, offers assurances that are soothing, if also just a tiny bit condescending: “Embracing change is never easy.”

So, does that sound like anyone you know? Oh, wait — did I mention the leader is secretly a totalitarian space lizard who’s come here to eat us?

Welcome to ABC’s “V,” the most fascinating and bound to be the most controversial new show of the fall television season. Nominally a rousing sci-fi space opera about alien invaders bent on the conquest (and digestion) of all humanity, it’s also a barbed commentary on Obamamania that will infuriate the president’s supporters and delight his detractors. …

The aliens — who become known as V’s, for visitors — quickly enthrall their wide-eyed human hosts.

A handful of dissidents hold out against the rapturous reception given the V’s. Some are simply uneasy, such as the youthful priest Father Jack (Joel Gretsch, “The 4400”), who sharply criticizes the Vatican’s embrace of the V’s as divine creations: “Rattlesnakes are God’s creatures too.”

21 Sep 2009

Kseniya Simonova, Sand Artist

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24-year-old Kseniya Simonova moved the audience of the Ukraine’s Got Talent (Україна має талант) television program to tears with her sand painting depicting the impact of the German Invasion during WWII on the lives of ordinary Ukrainians. She won the competition, and the YouTube video of her performance has attracted more than 2 million viewers.

8:33 video

explains the story of the animation.

14 Jun 2009

Lileks Destroys Letterman

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The most devastating response to David Letterman’s joke attacking Sarah Palin’s daughter comes from the inimitable James Lileks who does to Letterman approximately what Rome did to Carthage.

[I]t must be funny, because David is funny and hip. Right? Or maybe not; maybe he’s actually a brackish, hermetically-souled guy who’s spend the last twenty years going from table to table with a giant wooden grinder, asking anyone if they want some fresh-ground scorn with that. Say when. Or maybe he’s about as edgy as a soccer ball, and exists only to remind people they were Edgy once, and hence must be ever-blessed with the gift of Wryness and Irony. With those shields we can never grow old, you know. We’ll always be as sharp and perceptive as we were when we were sitting on a cast-off sofa in college, working through a midweek buzz, happily fellated by the preconceptions the TV so charitably provided. …

What’s amusing is how unamusing he is in the clip. How sour he seems. Compare him to his predecessors: Carson was all midwestern charm, with unreadable yet mannerly reserve; Steve Allen was almost as smart as he was certain you thought he must be, but he was cheerful; Parr was a nattering nutball covered with a rich creamy nougat of ego, but he was engaging. Letterman is empty; he’s inert; he stands for nothing except disdain for people foolish enough to stand for anything – aside from rote obesciance to all the things Decent People stand for, of course, all those shopworn assumptions passed around in the bubble.

This posture was fresh in ’80; it even had energy. But it paralyzes the heart after a while. You end up an SOB who shows up at the end of the night to reassure that nothing matters. I think he may have invented the posture of Nerd Cool, an aspect so familiar to anyone who reads message boards – the skill at deflating enthusiasm, puncturing passion with a hatpin lobbed from a safe distance. The instinctive unease with the wet messy energy of actual people.

Yes, reading too much into it. Really, it’s just a rote slam: If your mother is a loathed politician, and your older sister gets pregnant, famous old men can make jokes about you being knocked up by rich baseball players, and there’s nothing you can do. That’s the culture: a flat, dead-eyed, square-headed old man who’ll go back to the writers and ask for more Palin-daughter knocked-up jokes, because that one went over well. Other children he won’t touch, but not because he’s decent. It’s because he’s a coward.

Oh, one more thing: it’s okay for David to say that because someone said something else about someone, and since I didn’t write about that, I’m a hypocrite. Just so we’re clear.

12 Apr 2009

Car Skeet With Jeremy Clarkson

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British TV program Top Gear‘s Jeremy Clarkson decided that clay targets were too small and too boring.

4:32 video

Hat tip to Henry Bernatonis.

15 Jan 2009

Patrick McGoohan, March 19, 1928 – January 13, 2009

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Patrick Joseph McGoohan was born in Queens of Irish parentage, but raised in Ireland and England, where he attended Ratcliffe College, a Roman Catholic public school boasting the architecture of Pugin, in Leicestershire, where, according to Wikipedia, he excelled at mathematics and boxing.

McGoohan was perfect for the role of British secret agent, having intellectual good looks, a natural aptitude for conveying the impression of competence and intensity of will, and possessing a distinctly U accent.

He might have been far more famous as an actor, but he turned down the roles of James Bond and the Saint back in the 1960s, just as he turned down the roles of Gandalf and Dumbledore more recently.

He will be remembered for The Prisoner (1967-68), which he produced, wrote, and starred in, and frequently directed. The series flopped in Britain, but proved in hit in France and the United States producing its own cult following. The Prisoner was revolutionary television, operating at a wholly unprecedented level of surrealism, metaphor, and sophistication, and scarcely equaled since as a vehicle of ideas.

2:58 video

Varifrank posted yesterday:

My favorite quote from “The Prisoner”, which seems rather timely right about now is this exchange with Leo McKern as “Number 2”.

Number 2: What in fact has been created? An international community. A perfect blueprint for world order. When the sides facing each other suddenly realize that they’re looking into a mirror, they’ll see that this is the pattern for the future.
Number 6: The whole earth as… ‘The Village’?
Number 2: That is my hope. What’s yours?
Number 6: I’d like to be the first man on the moon!

Reason quotes a reader of the French newspaper Le Monde: “Patrick McGoohan finally escaped.”

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