From the ABC TV show “What Would You Do”:
What happens when a black man brings his white girlfriend into a barbershop in Harlem?
I recall once stepping into a cab in the middle of Midtown Manhattan and requesting a ride to some place in the upper part of Lower Manhattan. The driver (a black African) thought for a minute (there was a red light ahead and traffic building behind us) and decided the money wasn't good enough and told me he didn't want to drive me there. When I stepped out of the idiot's cab, a driver in the truck behind the cab honked repeatedly and loudly at me (the light was now green and the cab was gone). I looked at him. The driver (a white male New Yorker) looked me, threw up his hands up, stuck his head out of the window and said: "What the hell are you doing? If you are in the cab, the driver has to take you where you want to go. That's rule. Don't you understand that? Those are the rules."
Despite all of their problems, New Yorkers of all colors have an usually deep sense of an urban ethic.
I. Can't. Wait.
I am most looking forward to when the mustachioed Watson sees Sherlock for the first time after his long absence... I think there's a good chance Watson will punch him.
Welcome, class. Please take out a number 2 pencil, because it's time for this week's "Holiday TV Pop Quiz," and... OH, DON'T YOU GROAN AT ME, YOUNG MISTER AND MISSY! You knew what you were getting into when you signed up to read this column, so stifle that back-sass and let's get to work!
Today's quiz will be about the animated holiday classic A Charlie Brown Christmas. Please provide complete answers for each, and ABSOLUTELY NO CHEATING OR WISENHEIMERY. You have one hour. Begin.
1. It's Christmastime, and Charlie Brown claims to enjoy "getting presents, sending Christmas cards, and decorating trees"—so why is he not happy? Is he ever happy? Name a few possible causes for his depression, besides holiday malaise and prepubescent-onset baldness.
2. At one point, Charlie says, "I know nobody likes me—why do we have to have a holiday to emphasize it?" Is Charlie's self-loathing a contributing factor to his general unlikability? Would you classify him more as "manic-depressive" or a "textbook narcissist"?
3. Which of the following responses is the most acceptable reaction to the phrase "Charlie Brown is directing our Christmas play"?
The actor Alec Baldwin’s short-lived show on MSNBC has been terminated, less than two weeks after he was suspended for making a gay slur in a confrontation with a photographer seeking to get pictures of him with his wife and baby.
“This is a mutual parting and we wish Alec all the best,” MSNBC said in a statement.
Needless to say, I'm happy about this news. I think actors trying to become liberal mouthpieces turn out, more often than not, to be embarrassments. Even better: Baldwin took himself out before anything too politically serious could happen. I don't think celebrities should keep quiet about their political beliefs, but I do think that giving celebrities platforms as political experts when they've been proven to have a long history of shitty behavior is a bad idea.
In other news, Lara Logan and her producers have finally been put on leave for running that shitty Benghazi story that wasn't even remotely true. It's a good day for political media!
Audience ratings have collapsed: Aside from a brief respite during the Olympics, there has been only negative ratings growth on broadcast and cable TV since September 2011, according to Citi Research.
Media stock analysts Craig Moffett and Michael Nathanson recently noted, "The pay-TV industry has reported its worst 12-month stretch ever." All the major TV providers lost a collective 113,000 subscribers in Q3 2013. That doesn't sound like a huge deal — but it includes internet subscribers, too.
Broadband internet was supposed to benefit from the end of cable TV, but it hasn't.
In all, about 5 million people ended their cable and broadband subs between the beginning of 2010 and the end of this year.
This is incredibly obvious, but whoever manages to fix television is going to make a fortune. The solution we have right now—an array of boxes, hooked up to an old-school television—is obviously better than paying an insane amount of money every month for an unchanging package of channels, most of which we don't even watch. But everyone's working on an elegant television that truly embraces the internet and makes it simple. It's been years since Steve Jobs bragged to his biographer that he "finally cracked" an interface that makes television a futuristic joy to use. Google TV flopped hard, although their Chromecast device looks like a second chance at a Roku-like box. Intel's supposed game-changing TV service looks to be a failure. But somebody's got to be able to change the way we watch television, because the audience for a cable replacement is there, and it's growing at a rapid rate. Once someone presents a truly simple, unified solution, those numbers will tip over into levels that will represent armageddon for the traditional cable industry.
Weirdly, January is now my favorite month for TV—primarily due to the return of Justified... but this time I'm also extra excited for the new HBO drama True Detective starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey (debuting January 12)! Check out this description from Deadline...
[True Detective] is descried as an elevated serial narrative with multiple perspectives and time frames. It centers on two detectives, Rust Cohle (McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Harrelson), whose lives collide and entwine during a seventeen-year hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana. The investigation of a bizarre murder in 1995 is framed and interlaced with testimony from the detectives in 2012, when the case has been reopened. The concept is for the 8-episode first season to resolve the mystery at hand, with subsequent seasons using same structure but new characters and story.
And check out the new trailer. I am sooooo all over this.
...The Flipside. You can watch the trailer and a sample episode over on this site. The Flipside is by no means the first attempt to create a comedy news show with a conservative bent. Maybe the most popular failed attempt is The 1/2 Hour News Hour, which lasted for about a half a year back in 2007. And Glenn Beck has been airing his own take on a Daily Show-type show called The B S of A on his little private island of a media "empire" for a couple years now, but since that show doesn't have to fight for ratings to survive, it doesn't really count.
I just watched the first episode of The Flipside and it was about what you'd expect. Maybe the most damning sign that The Flipside isn't funny is that the live studio audience doesn't laugh all that much. The jokes earn more polite, supportive rounds of applause than laughter from even the friendliest of friendly crowds. The truth is that the whole show is just staggeringly unfunny. Even legitimate targets for satire, like a central segment about Harrison Ford fighting for climate change when he owns a fleet of private airplanes, suffer from weak punchlines about Ford's earring.
Here's the thing I don't understand about these conservative shows: Does anyone involved in the creation and production of The Flipside actually think that The Flipside is funny? Or do they think that eventually they'll get funny with practice? The history of television is littered with unfunny sitcoms and talk shows, of course, but even, say, The Chevy Chase Show had some air of potential to it. Does the political drive behind The Flipside blind producers and staff to the fact that their show absolutely sucks? Do they consider anyone who doesn't laugh at this show to be a liberal? Because I'm pretty sure that some members of the audience during that taping must've been closeted liberals, then.
(Via Death and Taxes.)
Last night's episode of The Walking Dead was quite the departure, wouldn't you say? OR WOULDN'T YOU? What would you say? Well, The Walking Dead Chitty-Chat Club is the perfect place to say what you would or wouldn't say... and in a public forum! So stick with me after the jump for my spoiler-filled recap and your bitches, moans, and kudos in the comments. LET'S START CHITTY-CHATTING!
I can't even come up with a poll for this trailer for Lifetime's adaptation of Flowers in the Attic. It's unpollable. It's poll-proof. My only regret is that the trailer doesn't boast of the show being broadcast in "incest-o-vision." Otherwise, it's some kind of perfect.
Premiering tonight on TheBlazeTV is Hutch, Glenn Beck's four-part series on the life and faith of the Northwest's premier gay-hater Pastor Ken Hutcherson. Juding from this teaser clip, the show will feature a lot of Hutch aggressively reading statistics like the one in the subject line. Enjoy!
If you like to watch people choking on their own bloody vomit, you REALLY loved The Walking Dead last night! Would you like to chitty-chat about it? Hit the jump for my spoilery-spoilers and your incisive commentary. Welcome to The Walking Dead Chitty-Chat Club!
The news broke this morning. Deadline's David Lieberman and Nellie Andreeva explain it this way:
Disney will provide Netflix with live action series and a miniseries featuring Marvel characters Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage set in the gritty world of heroes and villains of Hell’s Kitchen, New York. Netflix has committed to at least four, 13-episode series over “multiple years,” beginning in 2015, culminating with a miniseries, The Defenders, that “reimagines a dream team of self-sacrificing, heroic characters.”
On the whole, I'm pretty excited for this. I always figured Daredevil was a character better-suited for a TV series than a movie—he's a character who does best when he's suffering slow punishment, and you just can't get that kind of stretched out agony right in a movie—and the Jessica Jones character is from Brian Michael Bendis's Alias, which is some of his best work for Marvel. Beyond that, I've always thought Luke Cage and Iron Fist were two of Marvel's best characters. I hope that if this works out, after The Defenders, they'll do a series of just Cage and Iron Fist. And purists might complain about the Defenders name being used for these characters, but let's face it: As much as I'd love to see a faithful TV adaptation of Steve Gerber's run on the title, there's no way the comic book version of The Defenders would work on-screen.
Which is not to say that this news doesn't give me a little pause. I like that Marvel is finally adapting properties with a black headlining character and a female headlining character, but it'd be a shame if these characters became the sole examples that Marvel could point to when they were asked about their diversity. The movies are obviously the highest-profile product that Marvel does, and more diversity on movie screens should remain an important goal. Also, I hope these series aren't as cheesy and poorly written as Marvel's disappointing Agents of SHIELD series, which continues to be a total piece of shit TV show. If they manage to retain the spirit and the adventure of the movie adaptations on Netflix, these shows will be huge hits.
In January, the Syfy network will air Battlestar Galactica showrunner Ron Moore's new show Helix. The show will run for 13 episodes, and a trailer was just released this week. Here it is:
It's my favorite TV show of all time, and even I stopped watching years ago. But even the screen-grab keepsakes from last night's farewell salute to Marcia Wallace choke me up a bit.
Thank you for the screen grab, Uproxxx, which also supplies this show-closing button.
Speaking of things people do when other people stop living, here's Patti Smith's New Yorker remembrance of Lou Reed.
(Gavel! Gavel! Gavel!) This meeting of The Walking Dead Chitty-Chat Club will now come to order! First order of business? THE TRIAL OF CAROL. After the spoiler-filled jump, I'll present both sides of the case, and you the jury will decide if Rick's decision was the correct one! So what are we waiting for? LET'S START CHITTY-CHATTING!
Slog tipper Rich asks why Outlaws is not still on the air:
I had never heard of this show before, and I would've loved the hell out of this thing when it was on the air.
Also tonight: Look at all the booze and food specials you get if you leave the house on a Monday night!
Welcome back to The Walking Dead Chitty-Chat Club, and if you watched last night's episode, you know there was a HUGE REVEAL. Let's talk about that HUGE REVEAL and other spoilery-spoilers after the jump! Because you know how we do... we CHITTY-CHAT!
Obviously don't watch the video below if you haven't watched the finale of season four of Breaking Bad... you know, the one with "explosive" results? (SERIOUSLY GUYS, FINISH YOUR BINGE WATCHING! How much longer am I gonna have to do these stupid "Spoiler Alerts"???) Anyway a son videotapes his father watching the scene, and Dad's reaction is priceless. Creepy, and priceless. The action starts at the 1 minute mark.
The Daily Show's Aasif Mandvi visits North Carolina to investigate the state's highly contentious, allegedly racist voter ID law, and finds a jaw-dropping interview subject in Buncombe County Republican precinct chair Don Yelton. (Yelton's defense of an Obama-as-witch-doctor pic he posted to Facebook is topped only by his frightfully direct explanation of the voter ID law's true intent.) (Best Supporting Actor: Congressman John Lewis.) Watch it.
Andre, along with "profoundly apathetic" cohost Hannibal Buress—whose solo comedy is also well worth checking out—nail together what is something like a more combustible third cousin once removed of the Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!. Also, it's nothing like that show. Mostly, they're just riffing out nonsense, hosting celebrities (real or imagined), then editing it all to hilarious results.
Season one has already aired on Adult Swim, but Season two is going to explode live all over the country, starting November 7 at the Crocodile. Just watch this clip and/or the nine million skits after the cut and I'll see you there.
From Drugs Inc: Wasted In Seattle - Season 4 Episode 8, on the National Geographic Channel. Here is the description, as it is posted to YouTube:
"Since the days of Kurt Cobain and grunge music, Seattle has been nicknamed Junkietown. The city's liberal laws and high demand for drugs is attracting gangsters and dealers looking to get rich. From the competitive crack business in Belltown to fashionable Molly users on the electronic dance music scene, this film explores the highs and lows of Seattle's drug business. Meet Gator, who has built up a reputation as the man with the best quality crack; and Ozu, the gourmet of crack cooking."
Starting at the 8:26 mark, "Belltown: One of the most lucrative, open-air drug markets in the city." Also, how does drug dealer, and Aryan Brotherhood gangbanger, "Todd" expect to find "work" with his face plastered all over TV and teh internets? How does THAT work?
I'm having a hard time with television right now. Now that Breaking Bad is over, I guess my favorite ongoing TV show is Girls. And that's a fine favorite TV show to have. And it's not the only TV show I enjoy; I like Parks and Recreation a lot, too, for example. But most of the shows I follow now are comedies. I'm running low on compelling dramas. Homeland is losing me. And I watched the first two episodes of both Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Blacklist, and they're both terrible.
S.H.I.E.L.D had one clever scene in two episodes—that interrogation bit—and it's got Clark Gregg, who is incredibly watchable. Everything else about the show is dumb. The actors are generally awful. The effects waver between great and laughable. Maybe it'll find its feet, but I'm having a hard time imagining what that would look like. Firefly had all sorts of potential in its first few episodes; Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has Clark Gregg, and not much else besides a tenuous relationship with Joss Whedon. It looks hopeless from here.
The Blacklist has James Spader, who is always fun to watch. But the show itself feels sloppy, and a sloppy television show about a super-genius is a failure. It's basically your standard FBI show starring Lex Luthor, which isn't a bad premise, but it feels as bland as everything else on network TV, which is a shame.
Maybe there's no solution to my problem. Maybe I just need to start watching the Univision version of Breaking Bad. My Spanish could use some serious brushing up, anyway:
The Guardian's headline writers deserve credit for being succinct:
The NRA is full of dimwitted goons who love to compare people to Hitler. Stands to reason that the host of an NRA-funded show is going to Godwin himself in a big, public way as soon as any trace of controversy makes itself known. What the hell did you expect, NBC?
Knowing that there were no recent shootings or murder trials involving young white women, I foolishly thought that CNN might have something informative on the government shutdown. Instead, they had a story about how some WWII veterans had to move a partition out of the way to visit the WWII memorial, and a corresponding interview with U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who concluded that the barricading was "a White House decision."
Next, an interview with Jon Huntsman, who—surprise!—blames both parties. "We're the party of Lincoln, we're the party of Roosevelt, we're the party of Reagan," Huntsman concluded, along with some other meaningless slop. It doesn't really matter what Roosevelt he's referring to, as long as his message effectively confused the issue for more people. We'll never know, though, because CNN didn't bother to ask.
Next, an interview with District of Columbia Mayor Vincent C. Gray, about his absolutely audacious assertion that employees of the District of Columbia should be treated as state workers in the eyes of the government shutdown, and therefore be allowed to continue working.
Lastly, we turned to the truly oppressed: People whose weddings were displaced from National parks. Then I turned it off.
She can't even watch TV right, you guys.
All you Breaking Bad haters can finally relax: After tonight, the onslaught of Breaking Bad articles online will finally ease up. But for right now, I have two short thoughts about the show that I wanted to air. Everything after the jump, including the comment thread, should be considered spoiler territory, but the Slog poll is spoiler-free.