Saturday Morning Cartoons: Ewoks
Saturday Morning Cartoons: Ewoks
Saturday Morning Cartoons: Muppet Babies
Saturday Morning Cartoons: The Littles
Saturday Morning Cartoons: Dungeons & Dragons
I’ve seen a number of people responding to the “fit-shaming” of the winner of “The Biggest Loser” this year. You know what? If she’s fit and happy and healthy, then more power to her. If she’s not healthy and happy, then I want her to get the help she needs to be so without having to suffer any recrimination for being in that condition.
The idea that she showed up skinny at the end is not why I refuse to watch this show. In fact, I think it’s wrong to fit-shame or fat-shame anyone. People have the bodies that they have, and they’ll alter them the ways the want to alter them, or not alter them if they see fit. There are a million reasons — not all of them voluntary — that someone can be skinny or fat, and nobody should be abused over any of them.
No, I refuse to watch this show in part because it reinforces the idea that your weight is everything, that fat should be associated with weakness of character, and because it’s yet another instance of the fitness industry putting models (in this case, the contestants) through extreme conditions to lose weight and then pretending that it’s just dedication to moderate workouts and diet.1
Primarily, however, I refuse to watch “The Biggest Loser” because what you see on the screen isn’t even half of the story. The verbal and emotional abuse you see hurled by the trainers in the guise of encouraging their trainees is the tip of the iceberg. They also push their contestants to dehydrate, to starve themselves, and to work in unhealthy conditions. They put their contestants on a 2-5 hour daily workout schedule that the average viewer cannot maintain while still working a full-time job.
Further, they also employ doctors and nutritionists to give their show an air of humanity. However, stories from previous contestants show that not only do they ignore the doctors and nutritionists, but they actively undermine the doctors and nutritionists. They tell their contestants to throw away the food that their nutritionists have given them. They scream at their contestants when a doctor tells them they can’t exercise, then re-edit the footage to remove the doctor’s advice and instead make the contestant look lazy or unmotivated. [source: Kai Hibbard]
I believe there are good trainers out there. I believe there are people who genuinely want to see their clients get fit and healthy. Hell, I have friends who are trainers, If I had to guess, the majority of people who call themselves trainers are in it because, at least in part, they want to help people.
But “The Biggest Loser” isn’t about health. It’s about “good television.” And it’s about “good television” to the extreme that they’re willing to sacrifice the health and well-being of their talent. I love the entertainment industry, but I acknowledge its failings — and the attitude that the team behind “The Biggest Loser” shows is the same attitude that led Michael Curtiz to drown extras and that led Fred Niblo to turn the Ben Hur chariot race into a very real gladiatorial game. It is an attitude that prizes human life far less than it prizes getting the right shot for the editors.
And that’s why I won’t watch “The Biggest Loser,” Charlie Brown.
1 For more on how the fitness industry employs dishonest casting practices, extreme methods, and even steroids to convince you “it’s all just diet and exercise,” see the pretty phenomenal documentary Bigger, Stronger, Faster*
Saturday Morning Cartoons: Turbo Teen
"The Day of the Doctor" was a fun, freaky episode of "Doctor Who," wasn’t it?
First things first — this episode of Doctor Who originally aired on November 23, 2013 and holds the Guinness world record for the largest international simulcast.
It is now January 14, 2014. That should be enough elapsed time for me to discuss episode spoilers without destroying the viewing experience for anybody out there. By now, you’ve either seen it, had it spoilt already, or you don’t really give a damn about spoilers.
There are spoilers beyond the break.
This is your final warning.
Agreed, buzzfeed. But it’s that “ga rhon’ tee’” pronunci-apron that stopped me cold in my tracks with memory.
It’s a reference of course to Justin Wilson, the Cookin’ Cajun, and you can hear him say it HERE, along with a lot of other mouth sounds I don’t have a week to figure out.
Wilson was a Louisiana comedian who found a second career as a kind of proto-Emeril on PBS, cooking and raconteuring and generally riding a distinctly 80s wave of cajun spice all the way to fame and RUFFLES fortune.
But there must be some sort of word, in this language or another, for that apron. None but the most virtuosic costume designer for the Goldbergs would think to dress an 80s character with that particular detail today.
It’s vestigial, a piece of contemporary cultural static, thoughtlessly embedded in a work that will long outlast it. An in-joke scrawled into the base of a pyramid.
There must be a million of these lost references, unseen winks, unheard echoes, in all the old art we love.
And because it is essentially GOOGLE-PROOF, that apron also would have evaporated into pure mystery eventually, I guarantee it.
Were it not for this post, of course, and the gift of tumblr and Buzzfeed and my precious living memory. We truly are the greatest generation. You’re welcome.
That is all.
All hail John Hodgman, valiant defender of our pop cultural history!
Kevin Spacey gave this speech (which appears pretty savagely edited here, but still gets the point across), addressing what he observed in the process of making the U.S. version of House of Cards. The major thrust of what he talks about is that audiences want content. They don’t care what platform you deliver it on so long as you deliver it. They do, however, care about access and control. It’s great to hear this coming from such a popular voice in such a broadly-received public forum, although it’s pretty much something you would have already heard if you’d been paying attention to the subject in, say, 2004.
Brushed over with less detail is the idea that House of Cards and its fellow originals (Orange is the New Black, Hemlock Grove, and even the first revival season of Arrested Development) represent a disruptive shift in American media, even if it is a model that’s familiar to the rest of the world.
Namely, it’s the pilot season.
It’s having enough trust in a team and a concept to give them the opportunity to tell a story. Not just a 30- or 60-minute story, but the kind of story that can only be told in a season of a television series. For reference, the first season ofLOST was twenty-five episodes long. At an average running length of 44 minutes (after removing commercials), the first season alone represents almost 18 1/2 hours of story issued in under a year. The full six-season run is a whopping 89 hours of story (actually, 88.7).
Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy took seven years to put out just over seven and a half hours of story.
(And if you want to argue, “Yes, but LOST really fell apart toward the end,” then you should know that I will happily argue the same about The Dark Knight Rises.)
Now, the cost of an entire season of LOST is an awful lot of money to gamble on a series’ success. But every series is a gamble — including the ones built on big-name draws and solid focus group data. Just ask the network execs who greenlit Whoopi — they’ll be happy to tell you the data they had that showed it just couldn’t fail. If you can get a reasonable budget that doesn’t break the network’s bank for an entire season, it’s no less of a risk than any other show.
What you really have to be concerned with is time. And for online delivery, that’s getting to be less and less of a concern.
See, a CBS affiliate cannot program more than 24 hours of content (including advertising) a day. Some of that is going to involve content they’re mandated to carry — local interest broadcasts, educational content, and the like. If CBS were to accept every pilot they were pitched in a year, they would wind up with more content than they had time to air.
Netflix, meanwhile, has no such limitations. Nor does Hulu. Nor does Amazon Prime. Nor any of the other online-first companies. Their broadcast day is as large as they care to make it, because their broadcast day is decided on by their users — not the laws of physics. Their users decide which shows are important to them and how important it is to watch them quickly or slowly. You can build an actual “broadcast day” out of online originals, or you can sit down and watch a series start-to-finish with no interruptions.
This makes these services attractive. And with an expanding user base hungry for new content, storytellers who can take a smaller budget and crank out 10+ hours of material are well worth the risk for one full season. That means potentially no money wasted on expensive pilots that may never see air — every show can be guaranteed at least one season to make their case for continuation, and a single season is easier to monetize in the long run than a single episode — even if the series is a flop.
And what the networks don’t seem to realize yet is that they have the potential to compete.
They have Hulu. They have — in many cases — their own online-streaming platforms. They have cable-bound “Go” services. They have the same online outlets that the online-first guys have.
And for their network? Their bread and butter? Now they have the potential to launch tried-and-true properties.
The BBC has been known to move shows from channel to channel as they grow in popularity, shifting the shows to outlets that have larger audience numbers (and can, therefore, offer a larger operating budget).
Next season, CBS could offer a series of CBS.com “exclusives” — shows that air not on the network itself, but on their website. When they decide not to pick up a show for the network, they can offer a low-ball budget to the producers for an online-original run.
Then, watching the analytics on their online series, they can determine what grabs an audience and what doesn’t. Those that don’t grab an audience simply aren’t invited back for a second season — but their first season is still there for DVDs and deals with other online streaming outlets.
Those that do grab an audience can continue for as long as they have eyes on screens or as long as the producers have a story to tell.
And those that grab a massive online audience?
Well, gee — you have this broadcast network that would love to take a look at tested properties. Especially ones that they already own…
You don’t have to be the funniest guy in the world. But if you aren’t, chutzpah helps.
Take the example of Movie: The Movie — Jimmy Kimmel’s Oscar fodder flick farce that seeks to combine the key elements necessary to bring home a golden statuette.
Yeah, it’s pretty much your typical late-night television comedy sketch — which is to say that it’s got some chuckle-worthy bits, some things that will make you cringe, and some that are worth a grin.
It’s also nine minutes long.
Nine minutes long!
And what does all that nine minutes get you?
A final 2-3 minutes that are almost screamingly hilarious.
It’s the build-up. The slow burn. Whatever you care to call it. Most good comedians hit fast and hard and move on — why spend nine minutes on a joke that might not work if you can get over it in two minutes and move on to something else that has a chance to win some laughs?
But at nine minutes, you practically have a movie in and of itself. In the comedy world, nine minutes is long enough to build an internal continuity. It’s long enough to have multiple call-backs, to revisit earlier exaggerations and blow them into the realm of absurdity, and to take things in more than one bizarre and unexpected direction.
And all of that comes from a sketch that any other show might have given two to three minutes.
Nine minutes on a sketch like this? That’s chutzpah.