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Thursday, Jul 22, 2010
Deadliest Catch handles the death of Captain Phil Harris in a moving, dignified manner. While reality television is typically founded on exploitation, the Discovery series proves there is hope for the genre to be something better.

When I was a kid, I remember my mother and father talking about the then-new concept of reality television. Shows like MTV’s The Real World had spearheaded the movement with competition reality shows such as Survivor soon followed suit. Following the writers’ strike of 2000, reality television soon permeated the airways in an effort to bolster networks’ television schedules affected by a lack of show scribes, reality television received a surge in popularity that stuck well beyond the strike.


One of the most frequent points that cropped up in my parents’ conversation regarding reality television was one or the other griping: “It’s only a matter of time before they show somebody die on television.”


As it turns out, my folks were right. It happened. Death was televised and broadcast to the masses—this time in entertainment form, rather than via newscast.


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Wednesday, Jul 21, 2010
How has Deadliest Catch handled the much-publicized death of one of its boat captains during the middle of filming this year? There have been a few problems, but overall it's been done with dignity and respect.

Deadliest Catch has found itself with a fine line to walk in its sixth season. One of its crab-fishing boat captains, Phil Harris of the Cornelia Marie, suffered a massive stroke in January on his boat and passed away in an Anchorage hospital a few weeks later. Deadliest Catch has been The Discovery Channel’s highest-rated show for several years now, and as such his stroke and subsequent passing were much-publicized in the mainstream news media. Since these events happened in the middle of filming, there was no way for the show to gloss over his death. In fact, Harris himself insisted that the cameras keep rolling while he was in the hospital.


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Friday, May 14, 2010
Is Star Trek only able to come out on the Internet?

“The Outcast” shows our Enterprise crew on a peaceful mission on some far off planet. That’s the back-story. The front story is that this new species is a genderless society, or as Trekkie Michael Ricci writes: an androgynous species (cast entirely of female actors) known as the J’naii who do not have typical gender roles of male and female.” The episode, “The Outcast”, then proceeds to thread through several clichés to establish the fallacy of ‘gender’ when it comes to sex. One of the genderless people falls in love with the Enterprise’s First Officer Will Riker. Riker is the known playboy of this crew—he embodies the libido of captain James Kirk from the original series. I suppose someone has to screw their way around the universe.


The Star Trek franchise has dealt a lot with sexuality, but always through the backdoor. In the Deep Space Nine (DS9) series, for example, there is the character Dax, a genderless worm that is hosted by a gendered humanoid being, a Trill, through several lifetimes. Hence, Dax is effectively transsexual, having lived several times in male and female bodies, always retaining the life experiences and memories of each previous host. In an episode from The Next Generation, “The Host”, Dr. Beverly Crusher fell in love with a Trill in male host, only to end the relationship when the worm remerged with a female host—although still the same ‘person’. Yet, that was just one episode. There are loads homoerotic and homosocial moments through DS9 built around Dax, including a Ferengi cross-dresser who comes out to her.


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Thursday, Apr 22, 2010
The first of many blogs about Lost. In this one I consider its place among the all-time great series.

So, there’s a show on ABC… I’m sure you’ve never heard of it… but it will be airing its final five episodes during the next month, and I figured that at least someone on the web should be writing about it.


In all seriousness, the prospect of writing about Lost is a daunting one, as so many people out there on other websites clearly devote more of their time and energy to this show than I ever possibly would be willing to. I love reading the Lost threads, though, because they are filled with that mixture of devotion, passion, and at times full-on craziness that exemplifies what I love about sci-fi and its fans. However you personally feel about Lost as a series – and, for what it’s worth, I think it is one of the most fascinating, enjoyable, compelling texts ever to grace my TV screen – you must admire its audacity. Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have woven this impossibly dense mythos that they are now unwinding before our eyes… and it doesn’t suck.


Tagged as: lost
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Monday, Apr 19, 2010
Smallville may not be the best show on TV, but for a host of its fans, it is one of the most fun and addictive.

Over the course of the past decade there have been few shows that I have consistently enjoyed more than Smallville. As a student of television, I watch a large number of shows, including most of those that are considered the best in the medium. Objectively I have never ranked Smallville among the dozen or so best shows on TV, but I nonetheless retain an affection for this show that transcends its aesthetic achievements. What is more, I sometimes find myself looking forward to the next episode of Smallville more than the next episode of more acclaimed shows like Breaking Bad or Big Love.

Certainly there is little on Smallville to justify ranking it among the elite shows on TV. The writing is inconsistent and occasionally downright awful, though it must also be conceded that there are times when it is unexpectedly and delightfully memorable. The acting is not going to win many awards. While Tom Welling—given his uncanny resemblance to anyone’s expectations of what Clark Kent should look like—is absolutely perfect for the lead role, he will never be nominated for an Emmy or Golden Globe. While the revolving cast (only Welling and Alison Mack, who plays Chloe, remain from Season One) is adequate to the task at hand, the show is not going to win any awards for ensemble acting.


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