For starters, Alex Pappademas’s March 5 posting on the gloriously seething culture-trap that is Grantland about HBO’s The Wire (and let’s consider that branding for a second, rarely do we feel compelled to write “NBC’s The Office”, nevertheless, Home Box Office must be acknowledged), Smacketology, is a beautiful piece of work. Riffing on Bill Simmons’s impressive get of an interview with Barack Obama—in which the president acknowledged that, yes, Omar Little was the best character on that show—Pappademas expands into a eschatological experiment that’s really just an excuse to:
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The notion of television ‘broadcast intrusions’ is one of the great dark, edgy, paranoia-inducing concepts of our time… and we are not just limiting this to people who write their concerns in chalk on sidewalks. Even television viewers who don’t wear tinfoil are uniquely vulnerable to the creepiness of the idea: after all, until now the box has been your willing partner in a soothing, predictable, well-regulated existence, probably involving nothing more mind-altering than Coors Light, until suddenly—
A hacked interruption ala Eyes Only of Dark Angel ... only kinkier.
It was a real shock to hear of the news of the death of Elisabeth Sladen (19 April 2011). She was a real hero of mine in the ‘70s. Of all the figures that I was regularly in touch with via popular television programmes, her character of Sarah Jane Smith, in the original BBC Doctor Who series, was one of the most inspirational. I wanted to be her when I grew up.
I really liked the way they styled her. She wore groovy fluffy coats and cloche hats, flared jeans and fitted jackets with magnificent lapels. She was assistant to Jon Pertwee’s doctor and my favourite, Tom Baker; from 1973-1976. In recent years Russell T Davies reintroduced the character in his revival of the series in 2005 and went on to create The Sarah Jane Adventures for children’s television in the UK.
Children’s TV. It’s something I’ve been confronting lately—well, actually, as I rummage around in my a-intensive past. Do you realise, fellow Gen-Xers, that the newest DVD sets of the show carry a disclaimer to the effect that “These early episodes of Sesame Street are intended for grown-ups, and may not meet the needs of today’s preschoolers”?
Sad, and a little strange—not least because it’s accurate. On the one hand, the belief seems to be that children are more sophisticated than ever before; on the other, that they’re fragile flowers whose every input needs monitoring for fear it’ll corrupt the mechanism.
I don’t know about calling her “America’s mom”, as I’m sure many obituaries will claim, but she was inarguably the “sitcom mom”.
It’s funny. My peers and I (born around 1970) were, obviously, not alive in the ‘50s, but that earlier era loomed large for us. Let me explain: the people who raised us did live in that time, and they were invariably informed by the mores and cultural imperatives of that era. As such, many of our parents were either inculcating or reacting against the buttoned-down (repressed?), black-and-white (i.e., ‘white’) reality as shows like Leave It to Beaver portrayed. Hence, the hippie sensibility that at least had a fighting chance for a few years before the door slammed shut in the back-to-the-future adventure of the Reagan years.
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