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by Jacob Adams

15 Oct 2010


““America this is the impression I get from looking at my television set.
America is this correct?”
—Allen Ginsberg, “America” (1956)

AMC’s critical darling Mad Men depicts, with obsessive attention to visual and verbal detail, the early-‘60s, a precarious time in American history. On one hand, echoes of the purported suburban paradise of the late-‘50s, found more in the monochromatic world of Leave it to Beaver than in real life, resounded well into the ‘60s. On the other hand, hints of future tensions and radical change found their way into the “innocent” early part of the decade. 

Mad Men depicts the darker underbelly of America’s supposed age of innocence. In the show’s early episodes, it seems that Don Draper represents the ideal urban man of the epoch. He has an exciting, creative job in Midtown and returns each evening via commuter train to his attractive Westchester family.

by Lynnette Porter

13 Oct 2010


By the time Modern Family’s episode, “The Kiss” (broadcast Wednesday, 29 September), made Facebook fans happy, more than 13,160 had “Like”d the idea of “Cam & Mitchell, the adorable gay couple” finally showing a little onscreen PDA (Public Displays of Affection). The producers long insisted that the Facebook site had nothing to do with the already-planned kiss. Whether a concession to ardent fans or a previously planned second-season agenda item, the Kiss hardly lived up to its build-up, but then, what first kiss does?

Other TV series have had more memorable same-gender liplocks, often fraught with the burden of being television “firsts”. Modern Family made the kiss real: low key, sweet, and completely in character with Mitchell and Cam’s relationship. The at-home cuddle was far more intimate, but in an episode of kisses and misses, it’s good to finally see Cam and Mitchell connect.

by Melissa Crawley

11 Oct 2010


Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Doctor John Watson

Forget the clothes and the present day London sets, the sign that BBC One’s new series Sherlock, is not your mother’s Holmes is the mobile. More precisely, it’s the texts that the famous detective sends in the opening scenes of the first episode.

Faced with a series of suicides that appear related, the police are holding a press conference. While Inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves) discusses theories on the case, the journalists’ phones begin to buzz and the word “wrong” appears several times across the screen as a sort of floating subtitle. Sherlock doesn’t like what he’s hearing and he’s embarrassing the cops, sms style.

by Michael Landweber

8 Oct 2010


I’m a huge fan of serialized shows, particularly the supernatural otherworldly type. Give me a bizarre mystery, confused characters and a hint of a conspiracy and I’ll tune in. Unlike most intelligent TV viewers, once I start watching, I almost never stop until the bitter end. 

Unfortunately, the ending for serialized shows is usually bitter these days. Almost none of them stay on the air long enough to reach a satisfying conclusion. 

I’m not talking about the rare shows that end with some degree of purposeful ambiguity, such as Lost. I loved the final episodes on the island (and the purgatory of sideways-ville) because they answered enough of my questions, but more importantly they completed the creators’ vision of the show.

by Lynnette Porter

7 Oct 2010


Glee characters Simpson-ized (L/R) Finn Hudson, Mercedes Jones, Rachel Berry

Pop culture icon-wannabes know they’ve truly made it when they guest on The Simpsons, and many of the best Simpsons episodes revolve around musicians and singers. Over the years almost every music genre has been well represented by a Who’s Who from international entertainment: Sting, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Tony Bennett, Barry White, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bette Midler. Johnny Cash, U2, Dolly Parton, Elton John, Britney Spears, Kid Rock, The Who, Mick Jagger, Tom Petty, Green Day, Dixie Chicks, Plácido Domingo, Ludacris, and 50 Cent, among others. In this episode, broadcast Sunday, 26 September, Flight of the Conchords and Glee provide the soundtrack to Lisa’s life.

The Simpsons has become more than entertainment; it confers elite pop culture status to those included in the series’ documentation of the important people, trends, and touchstones of our times. In years to come, cultural anthropologists could learn much about turn-of-the-21st-century America from the evolving litany of Simpson cultural references and themes. While quintessentially American, The Simpsons reflects a globalism well beyond the grasp of its Springfield-centric characters (with, of course, the exception of exceptional Lisa).

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Cage the Elephant Ignite Central Park with Kickoff for Summerstage Season

// Notes from the Road

"Cage the Elephant rocked two sold-out nights at Summerstage and return to NYC for a free show May 29th. Info on that and a preview of the full Summerstage schedule is here.

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