Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Friday, Aug 19, 2011
The 2010-2011 TV season saw an unprecedented number of major film directors work in TV, while Charlie Sheen's meltdown was an embarrassment both to him and to those who fixated on his demise.

Highpoint Number 2: Film Directors Invade Television


Three television series and one mini-series debuted in the 2010-2011 season with executive producers who were also notable film directors: The Walking Dead (Frank Darabont), Boardwalk Empire (Martin Scorsese), The Borgias (Neil Jordan), and Mildred Pierce (Todd Haynes). Important directors working in television is not without precedent. Steven Spielberg, David Lynch, and James Cameron have all worked in television, but never before have four such important directors all invaded the medium at the same time.


The degree to which Scorsese is involved with the actual production of Boardwalk Empire is not clear. He did direct the all-important first episode, perhaps the only episode of any series in which the director plays a role as important as the writers. The director of the initial episode of any series is responsible for creating its shooting bible, which establishes the look and feel of a show. TV directors like David Nutter and Jeffrey Reiner are sought out to direct series’ pilots because they excel at creating the look of a show.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Monday, Aug 15, 2011
To celebrate the debut of TeenNick's "The 90s Are All That" programming and its record ratings, here are some classic episodes that made you afraid of the dark.

At the same time a handful of friends Tweeted and updated their Facebook statuses to celebrate the premiere of TeenNick’s The 90s Are All That lineup recently, I was stabbed with my millionth pang of regret that I still can’t afford cable television. As a 23-year-old with an entry-level job, a loan repayment schedule, some credit debt, and a cat to feed, my budget simply cannot account for pricey cable television bills. Thus, I make do with Netflix and an Internet connection, having learned in college the key to any broke couch potato’s comfort in a cable-less lifestyle is to embrace a wireless router.


Although not currently airing during the midnight to 4AM block, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, easily the most iconic series from Nickelodeon’s golden era, is slated to return to the airwaves in a future cycle of programming. But take it from me, you need look no further than YouTube. Therefore, I invite you to join me in revisiting ten classic, creepy Are You Afraid of the Dark? episodes, if not from the comfort of a big orange couch in front of a television, then at least with the lights turned off (it aids the YouTube picture quality).


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Thursday, Aug 11, 2011
This year Justified went from being a very good show to being a great one, while two of TV's most promising new series, Terriers and The Chicago Code, were gone too soon.

High Point Number 3: Justified Comes of Age


Justified, which debuted in 2010, was a good show straight out of the gate, with Timothy Olyphant as US Marshal Raylan Givens instantly one of the most appealing lead characters on TV, and Wayne Goggins as Appalachian petty criminal Boyd Crowder one of the most compelling and complex supporting characters. But as so often happens with shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, Buffy, The X-Files, Farscape, and many others, it was in the second season that Justified became something extraordinary.


The American television industry has been notorious for focusing on the “haves” in American life rather than the “have nots”. Nearly every show on broadcast television deals with the lives of people who are a bit better off than the majority of Americans. And shows that focus on the lower middle class, like the recently ended Friday Night Lights or the comedy classic Freaks and Geeks, are exceptions to the rule. Justified is likewise an exception, in this case not merely focusing on the lower middle class but also on the poor in one of the most economically blighted areas of the United States, the coal mining region of Eastern Kentucky.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Tuesday, Aug 9, 2011
The 2010-2011 season meant saying farewell to cult favorites Friday Night Lights and Smallville, as well as the ongoing mania surrounding one of TV's most mediocre shows, Glee.

High Point Number 4: A Fond Farewell to Friday Night Lights and Smallville


It may seem a tad eccentric to pair Friday Night Lights and Smallville. After all, Friday Night Lights was—despite being almost completely snubbed by both viewers and the Emmys during most of its run—one of the great series of the past decade, while Smallville was merely a competent reworking of the Superman story, focusing on his small town roots. But both shows had passionate if small fan bases and the departure of each leaves a gap that is not likely to be filled any time soon.


Friday Night Lights’s story is both tragic and triumphant. When I saw its first season, I was stunned by its quality, the brilliance of its camera work, the outstanding writing, and the astonishingly gifted cast. I told friends that it was one of the best shows on TV, and that it was going to win a huge number of Emmys. I believed Kyle Chandler (who played Coach Eric Taylor on the show) was a lock to win Best Actor and Connie Britton was equally certain to win Best Actress. And at bare minimum Taylor Kitsch, Zach Gilford, and Adrianne Palicki were certain to get Emmy noms for their supporting roles.


When the Emmys came around and the show failed to receive anynominations, I was flabbergasted. Today the results seem absurd. While The Sopranos deserved its Best Drama nomination, the other four—Grey’s Anatomy, Heroes, House M.D., and Boston Legal—were so clearly inferior to Friday Night Lights that its failure to receive a nomination is unfathomable.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Thursday, Aug 4, 2011
Except for Parenthood, television is bereft of great family dramas. Just where have all the family dramas gone?

High Point Number 5: Parenthood Carries the Banner of Family Drama


Few people have commented on the recent demise of the family drama. It is, of course, a genre with a long and distinguished history, but unfortunately of late there have been far too few examples. I’ll hold off commenting further about the absence of great family drama until today’s lowpoint, but great television family dramas are almost nonexistent, these days.


There are, of course, several fine family comedies, including Modern Family, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and the recently cancelled United States of Tara, as well as perhaps the best new comedy of 2010-2011 season, Raising Hope. There’s also Desperate Housewives, which is several years past its prime (if indeed it ever was ‘prime’). Indeed, the family remains a ripe source of humor in both one hour and half hour increments, especially when the families are as delightfully dysfunctional as in Raising Hope.


Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2015 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.