Tag: TV

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Jack and Mary and Fred and Portland: The American Magic of Vaudeville

 

I’ll admit right out of the gate that I’ve been on a bit of a nostalgia kick lately, something that can probably be blamed on not having seen home since January, and having been in lockdown alone since March. Things may have occasionally come to the ‘rocking out to metal songs sung by Christopher Lee about Charlemagne at 11 pm while washing dishes in llama pajamas’ point of solitary living. Maybe. Either way, when I’m not working or doing something useful, I find myself more and more seeking out the comfortingly old fashioned. It should be acknowledged that most of the cultural products I associate with nostalgia aren’t ‘personally nostalgic’ for me, in the sense that I had or have a contemporary connection (only post-1999 things could be such). One of the biggest parts of this recent obsession has been old radio comedians, mostly Jack Benny and Fred Allen.

Readers of a certain age will probably have at least some memory of Benny, who dominated radio and television from the ‘30s almost until his death in 1974. My mother absolutely and completely despises him, and threatens homicide if I listen to his ‘40s broadcasts in the car, so he played no great role in my early life. Allen, meanwhile, is a largely forgotten figure, mentioned, if at all, as a “comedian’s comedian” and witty satirist who failed to make the transition to television, a contrast to his arch-nemesis. I could, I think rightfully, laud their comedy chops, their innovativeness, and their lasting impact on American popular culture. These certainly all deserve praise, but what has struck me most in listening to and watching their performances in the last few weeks is who they were and who they became. 

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Conservatism & Progress: A Tale of Two Commencement Speeches

 

If you’re looking to learn rhetoric, I’m your huckleberry. Here’s a comparison of the varieties of rhetoric in American politics–two speeches by men who are and were respectively senators. Each talk is about the same length — seven minutes and change is a short speech — and with the same purpose, apparently, to congratulate and exhort America’s callow youth. Sen. Sasse of Nebraska is first. He gave this speech, which is alright, not very good, the sort of mediocrity we expect in politics and celebrity culture, broadly speaking. He seems to be a good man, wears his successes lightly, and he’s handsome, so it’s likely to go over well:

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My wife recently started us watching Outlander, streaming it via Starz. I heard parts of the books on audio many years ago (a friend listened to them in the car) and have been intrigued. Well, we’ve really gotten into it, but I have to ask you all: Does the sex and violence ever let up? […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. ‘You’ve Done It Again, Lewis!’: On the Enduring Worth of ‘Inspector Morse’

 

There are, it seems, about a million British detective shows on offer to American audiences (about a million to the power of ten when you add in all the other European sleuthing nationalities), from heart-pumping “Luther” to the more sedate “Ms. Marple’s Mysteries.” Having grown up without cable and had 90 percent of my television-viewing experiences before high school courtesy of WGBH, I have a definite familiarity with the full range of British television offerings (“Vicar of Dibley,” “Keeping Up Appearances,” and “Waiting for God” were all household favorites), but age prevented me from ever making the acquaintance of “Inspector Morse.”

It took until halfway through high school, when I had, in a rare coup d’état, actually managed to get hold of the solitary television clicker, to see the Inspector on Netflix and my mother in no uncertain terms demanded that he disappear after half an hour. However, I was hooked. Even within the diverse range of detective dramas, Morse is a quite singular property, elaborate plotted, skillfully filmed, chock-full of more obscure references than an Umberto Eco novel, and poignant without being sappy or sentimental. A genius product of pop culture. 

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. ‘9-1-1 Lone Star,’ Give Me a Break. Please.

 

This is RightAngles, TV Reporter, here to save you some time. Do not bother to watch the new Fox show 9-1-1 Lone Star unless you want to end up throwing things at your TV. I admit I may have been predisposed to disliking this show because in the trailer they flew the Texas flag upside-down, but I think my initial gut reaction proved to be correct. So without further ado, here is my reaction to this over-the-top mishmash of SJW causes.

My first clue was when with the opening credits barely finished, we learn that New York Fire Capt. Rob Lowe’s son, also a fireman, is gay. I mean they just could not wait to stick that in there. Lowe is sent to Austin to repopulate a firehouse where everyone died in an explosion, and they tell him diversity is paramount (what?). As a result, we see him interviewing a paramedic in a hijab (he hires her even though she has 11 reprimands on her record), a black trans person (a twofer!), a basic Brown Guy who has failed the written exam four times (he hires him too), gay men, etc., etc. I mean is this the Fire Department or the SJW Cavalcade?

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. “Quiz Show” at 25: The ’50s on Trial

 

If you weren’t even alive back then, you’ve probably seen the black-and-white footage, some of the best-known images of early television. Two men stand isolated under the hot lights, answering questions, trying not to show the pressure. The graceful, elegant one from New England is the scion of one of America’s most famous families; the other one, a decent but unattractive man, a hard-working “grind” who rose from the lower middle class, is the smarter of the two, but he’s already sweating, feeling hopelessly outclassed. A trick question has caught him—he’s not allowed to give the correct answer! His anger rises; but he dutifully, bitterly keeps his mouth shut. He plays along for what he thinks is the good of the system, even if it means his defeat. But enough about the Kennedy-Nixon debates in 1960.

There’s an overlooked twist of history here, and we’ll get back to it at the end of our story. “Quiz Show” (1994) takes you back to the adolescence of American television. The film is based on the real-life scandal that engulfed the big-money quiz shows in 1959.

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ELISHA KRAUSS is back! She joins Lyndsey Fifield for a hilarious conversation about how to pick TV shows that are safe for kids… and safe for adults. Lyndsey rants about what contemporary content is doing to our brains… as Elisha said, this might have been Lyndsey’s “Matt Walsh week.” Keep listening for a great challenge from Mrs. Krauss at the end of the episode.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. TV History 8: High Definition Television

 

Ask any critic: We’re living in the era of Peak TV, when major cable and streaming projects have become as important and glamorous in our world as theatrical films are, sometimes even more so. Television’s been an important part of our lives for seventy years, but other than for live events, it’s always been the (relatively) family-friendly, 21 inch-wide, generally low prestige cousin of the movies. That all changed in this century, and this post will claim it’s partly due to a non-artistic advance that’s supposedly “merely” technical, as if anything is “merely” technical: The stunning quality, size, and affordability of today’s high definition home screen.

The traditional movie theater is increasingly reserved for spectacle; your living room flatscreen is now your movie screen, just as your laptop or tablet has become your kitchen table TV, and your mobile phone became your daily, carry around computer message center. Just considering sheer cultural impact, “The Sopranos”, became “The Godfather” of our era, and “Game of Thrones” has been “The Lord of the Rings” of the past decade. It’s hard to recall how recent this all is. Even a quarter century ago, you’d have to have been a Hollywood millionaire with a 35mm home theater to see a picture anywhere nearly this good in your living room. Now you only need $500, and 55 inches (diagonal) of wall space. The story of how video reached film quality, and is now approaching the limits of human eyesight, involves enterprise, decades of backdoor deals, art, science, the politics of the Sixties through the Eighties, and a high money stakes engineering fight with Japan; which we won. Here’s how it happened.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Great Character Actors: Ward Bond

 

There’s no real point to this post other than to briefly discuss and celebrate the career of one of the great character actors of all time — Ward Bond (1903-1960). First, I have to admit I don’t know much more about Bond’s life than that presented in his Wikipedia biography.

Let’s see … I did know that he’d played football at the University of Southern California along with John Wayne and that he and Wayne began their acting careers when they and other USC footballers were hired by director John Ford to appear in “Salute,” a 1929 movie about football. I also knew about the drinking and the conservative politics (among other things he was an early and proud member of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals). I didn’t know about the B.S. degree in engineering nor did I know that he suffered from epilepsy.

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Is this the saddest TV show ever? I was a fan of James Roday and Psych, so when I saw he was on a new show I thought I’d check it out. I didn’t even know what A Million Little Things was about; I just put it on the recording schedule. It turns out to be […]

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In 2009, Microsoft brought the game show format online through Xbox Live. Every owner of an Xbox 360 video game console had a cartoonish avatar to represent the player in a variety of virtual interactions. In the trivia game show 1 vs 100, these avatars could fill a virtual crowd of a hundred players competing […]

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One of the many discussions we had at the first Ricochet Meetup my wife and I attended (Charlotte, 2014: https://ricochet.com/archives/charlotte-meetup-d-c-mcallister/) was about how some TV series end their run – which ones did it right, and which ones left viewers scratching their heads (some endings threw fans into a rage). Well, it looks as if […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Let’s Talk About “The Expanse”

 

About seven months ago, a kid I work with told me about a science fiction TV show he thought I’d enjoy. It was a little something called “The Expanse.” It had a great premise. The only problem was that it was on the Syfy channel.

If you’re not familiar with Syfy, until they rebranded themselves a few years ago, they were the Sci-Fi Channel, a cable station nominally devoted to science fiction television. The only problem is that … their programming was terrible. If you need an example of their garbage programming, they’re the folks behind Sharknado. The fact that they changed their name to “Syfy” should tell you everything you need to know. But I was assured, by my coworker, that this one series was the shining gem of the network and that it was worth watching. And, boy howdy, was he right.

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I don’t know how many of you watch the HBO series “Silicon Valley,” but they did a nice job in last week’s episode targeting the bigotry of the mostly progressive tech sector. Pied Piper, the company at the center of the show’s narrative, was assembling a collection of partner companies who would participate in the […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

Luckily for us, The Resident is not alone in providing moral guidance to the backward conservative population of America. ABC is the next source of The True Way. The Good Doctor, a delightful medical show about what happens to an autistic doctor in San Jose, California, is also preaching the True Path of Leftism. As we […]

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What is it? Why do many people like to be scared? Why do many people like gruesome tales or stories that revel in darkness and/or filth? These days, serial killer stories are a dime a dozen. Then there are monster stories, ghost stories, psychological thrillers, and gothic tales, among other subgenres. Some horror stories are […]

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I know there is a a devastating storm raging over Texas, I’m sure Trump has done or said something new to offend and outrage, and lord knows all sorts of places around the world are slowly spiraling into oblivion. But, tonight the penultimate season of Game of Thrones just ended, and we need a place […]

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From PC Gamer: According to SuperData, there’s now a bigger audience for gaming video than the combined audiences of HBO, Netflix, ESPN, and Hulu. For reference, Netflix’s subscriber count is somewhere near 100 million, while Hulu maintains about 12 million. For better or for worse, PewDiePie alone has over 54 million YouTube subscribers. [….] More

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Finally: A Gritty “Wizard of Oz” Reboot

 

Reboots are all the rage in Hollywood. In the past decade they’ve delivered a Gritty Batman, Gritty Snow White, Gritty Superman, and even a Gritty Hansel and Gretel. Do we really need a Gritty Toto?

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OK, so about 6 months ago we joined the 21st century and bought a couple of smart TV’s. I am thrilled with all the new stuff to watch, even some HBO/Showtime things we missed the first time around. We’ve got Amazon Prime, Netflix and Acorn (love the Brit and Aussie shows). Got caught up on […]

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