Remotely Interesting Retrospective 2012 – Second Tier

Retrospective 2012- Second Tier

We’re nearing the end of December here meaning it’s time for everyone to say goodbye to 2012 and welcome in the new year. 2012 was a big year for the site as it reached nearly 30,000 total views and my article on HBO’s now defunct series Luck was used as a required reading at University of Oregon. Sadly, work and personal things interfered with the blog in the later half of the year, but I figured I’d try and make up for things with the second annual Remotely Interesting Retrospective. This time I’ll be breaking down my favorite TV series into three categories: First Tier, Second Tier, and Third Tier. Any of the five shows in the First Tier could easily be number one given the episode. The Second Tier consists of my five “second best” series of the year and the Third Tier is to highlight five additional shows that were particularly outstanding and deserve some extra recognition. And don’t worry, all the write ups will remain spoiler free, dealing with only broad strokes rather than fine details, so go ahead and read without fear. Continue reading

Remotely Interesting Retrospective 2011 – Other Shows

It’s the end of December which means its time to look back on the year an evaluate the various television shows that aired throughout 2011. Yesterday I posted  my Second Tier series of the year, but rather than go ahead and post my First Tier series right away, I thought I’d list my thoughts on all the other shows I’ve been watching all year. These are the shows that I watched every single episode of that aired in 2011, but didn’t make my top ten list.

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Pilots of Remote Interest: Suburbatory

Fall is my favorite season for many reasons, but probably the biggest contributor to that is it marks the beginning of the new TV season. Each fall the many TV networks premiere a bunch of new series, in addition to new episodes of returning shows. And now that we’re midway through September we can finally say the 2011-2012 TV season has officially started. In honor of this occasion I will be writing various short pieces on the new shows that particularly interest me. I won’t watch every pilot (hello The Playboy Club), but I’ll try my best to sample a bunch and put my early reactions down here so you can find out which new shows should be of remote interest.

Back in the spring when networks announced their upcoming programs I saw a clip of ABC’s new comedy Suburgatory, and right after I wrote the show off finding the quick snippet I saw to be mostly bubble gum. Characters seemed stereotypical and unlikable, while the stylistic design of the show seemed on the verge of fantasy. In other words Suburgatory is not a show I thought I would like, or even watch. Turns out I was wrong, and I’m very happy to admit that (though said scene, when they first go to the mall to buy clothes, still remained one of my least favorite parts of the pilot despite now understanding the context). Most of this comedy season hasn’t been pretty, with the majority of them not even being worth writing about (Whitney, 2 Broke Girls, or just anything Whitney Cummings). While I enjoyed Up All Night and New Girl, neither of them have have that great of a pilot. In both shows the majority of my enjoyment came from the potential they have, but with Suburgatory my enjoyment came directly from the episode at hand.

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Pilots of Remote Interest: Up All Night With The New Girl

Fall is my favorite season for many reasons, but probably the biggest contributor to that is it marks the beginning of the new TV season. Each fall the many TV networks premiere a bunch of new series, in addition to new episodes of returning shows. And now that we’re midway through September we can finally say the 2011-2012 TV season has officially started. In honor of this occasion I will be writing various short pieces on the new shows that particularly interest me. I won’t watch every pilot (hello The Playboy Club), but I’ll try my best to sample a bunch and put my early reactions down here so you can find out which new shows should be of remote interest.

This year networks seem to be spacing out their series more than usual, rather than the typical blood bath that occurs when all the new shows start within the same two week period.  Next week is the full start of the new TV season, where the majority of new shows will first air, but I want to talk about two series that have already been released. One has just begun airing on television (Up All Night), while the other was made available online early as a sneak peak to gain word of mouth (New Girl). Lets begin.

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“Seinfeld, You Magnificent Sitcom!”: Seinfeld’s Impact On The Sitcom From The Minutiae To The Meta

In 1989 the NBC sitcom Seinfeld aired its pilot episode, then under the title The Seinfeld Chronicles, in a dump slot during the middle of the summer. The ratings were low and the show seemed to go almost unnoticed to all, except for a single executive at NBC who believed in the series enough to convince the network to produce four more episodes to round out what would be an unusually short first season. Nine years later its series finale would air, reaching the staggering number of 79 million viewers. In the course of a nine-season run Seinfeld became one of the most influential sitcoms and a true cultural phenomenon, continuing its comedy dominance even over the ten years since it ended.  With the obsession of the minutiae, an increased focus on story structure, and love of meta, self-referential humor Seinfeld changed the notion of what Americans knew to be a sitcom and helped pave the way for the single camera comedies of today.

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Tales From South Park (Part 2)

The second half of my South Park responses from my Research Writing course looking at how  comedy is used to discuss political and social issues.

“ManBearPig”

On the surface level the episode titled “ManBearPig” is one of the more ridiculous ideas for the series, and yet at the same time its quite genius.  Often I’m in awe at how exactly Trey Parker and Matt Stone come up with all this.  Airing about a month before Al Gore’s novel and documentary An Inconvenient Truth were to come out South Park decided it was time for them to give their take on the subject of global warming just as the idea would reach a peak within the public and media.  But rather than being overly preachy as the show can sometimes get, “ManBearPig” is relatively un-preachy with the message simply being Al Gore is over blowing things for attention rather than necessarily global warming doesn’t exist.  The episode consists of former Vice President coming to the small Colorado town of South Park and trying to get the kids to believe in his delusional tale of a “half man, half bear, half pig” creature.

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Tales From South Park (Part 1)

In my Research Writing course we’ve been focusing on comedies and how they use satire to discuss political and social topics.  Typically our homework involves watching an episode of a comedy series and responding to it.  The first half of the semester is based around South Park so here’s the first batch of my responses, which I’ll classify loosely as reviews.

“Death”

South Park is a series that from the very start was given a bad rap.  The initial response to the show from critics and the media was that it consisted of nothing more than fart jokes and crude, ugly animation.  With the speed and ease of producing an episode of South Park, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone wrote the episode “Death” in direct response to this criticism, thus making use of one of my favorite types of jokes: meta humor.  By creating the show within a show Terrence and Phillip they are able to have the characters speak directly to the early critiques and defend themselves against it.  The parents of South Park become enraged by the introduction of Terrence and Phillip, which actually consists of nothing but potty humor in addition to using even cruder animation as the top of the characters’ heads aren’t even connected to the bottom (a joke which would later be applied to all Canadians in the South Park universe).  In this Terrence and Phillip become a representation of the type of show many-viewed South Park to be at first glance.

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