Drinking the LOST-Aid: The Mythology, Duality, & Significance of Cult Television

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The ABC television series LOST is one of the great success stories of the aughts. The show was deemed a colossal failure before it even began by advertising companies, was notorious for being the most expensive pilot ever shot at the time, and even led to the firing of the network executive who developed the idea. Yet the pilot would go on to amass 18.65 million viewers in the U.S. (Kissell, 2004) and soon became a world wide phenomena, airing in over one hundred and seventy different countries and being titled the second most popular show in the world by appearing in the most top ten in more countries than any other show other than CSI: Miami (BBC, 2006). With ratings like that, the question of whether LOST counts as a cult television series gets brought up frequently. While LOST may not work with the traditional definition of cult, when one takes into account the metamorphosis of the term cult and what it means in relation to the current state of television, it becomes intrinsically clear that yes, LOST is cult television. In fact, LOST is a quintessential example of modern network cult TV that provides a case for why cult TV matters as it brings fans together to create dedicated communities, while also serving as a model for the future of industry.

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Let’s Be Upfront 2012: FOX & NBC

This week is a special time for fans of television as each of the major networks roll out their fall schedules, announce what current series are being cancelled, reveal what new shows their picking up. So basically it’s Christmas morning, complete with the excitement of beautifully gift wrapped new toys, and the disappointment of said new toys once unwrapped and revealed to actually be a stack of tube socks. Thankfully this year few beloved series have been cancelled, albeit a handful will return with fewer episodes (most notably Community) and one had to jump networks (Cougar Town). But now that we know what shows are returning it’s time to change the focus to what new shows will be out come next season. The following are my first impressions from the short one to four minute previews the networks have made available online. There will be a handful of series I won’t cover as I no interest in spending any time on shows like Mob Doctor (she’s a doctor that has to work for the mob) and the majority of the discussion will focus around sitcoms as that’s my main area of interest. Without further ado here’s my thoughts on what FOX and NBC have to offer.

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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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“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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From Meek Freaks and Geeks to Chic Winning Streak

For Research Writing we had to do a profile on someone or something, so naturally I decided to write it on one of my all time favorite shows, Freaks And Geeks.  The paper focuses on the show’s lasting impact on the world of comedy and where it’s major players have ended up.

Today the name Judd Apatow goes hand and hand with the term comedy, but in the fall of 1999 the name held no such power as the dreary but sweet pilot of Freaks and Geeks came and went with little fan fare.  The series aired twelve episodes before it was quietly cancelled.  At the time it seemed as if it was the end of the show’s legacy, but the series would go on to become one of the most defining cult classic TV shows once it’s 2004 release DVD, and launched the careers of over a dozen huge actors such as James Franco, Jason Segel, Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini, Busy Philipps, John Francis Daley, and many more.  Even Shia LaBeouf and Jason Schwartzman had brief appearances on the show at the start of their careers.  Freaks and Geeks is significant not just because it’s one of the greatest short-lived series created, but also as it became the building block for a large portion of modern comedy.

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How I Met Your Mother – “Last Words”: Better Than Crocodile Dundee 3

As I start to review episodes for the first time I’ll most likely begin the initial review of a series with some background info stating my relationship with the series and feelings on it’s current state.

I originally got into How I Met Your Mother just as season 2 was nearing its end.  I heard a lot of positive feedback about the series for some time and decided to catch the first few episodes to see how it was.  By the time I reached the episode “Ok Awesome” I was completely sold. I immediately ordered the first season on Amazon and devoured the sitcom as quickly as possible.  My next move was to watch the first few episodes with my brother and close friends to which they soon got hooked.  I continued to spread the show around but as season three continued the show became something different.  The sweet romantic Ted Mosby was replaced by what the showrunners in retrospect refer to as Outlaw Ted, notable by his trademark cowboy style shirt (seriously go back and watch, he wears the same cowboy shirt like every other episode).  This new Ted had a goal to hook up with as many girls as possible and just have numerous flings and one-time things.  Though it wasn’t just his character that lost it’s romantic touch, rather the entire series seemed to take a slight dive.

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