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

Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Friday, Jan 11, 2013
As television viewers languished with nothing new to watch over the holidays, it may be time for networks to reconsider their programming schedule.

Recently we were back in that time of year when TV hits a dry spell: the infamous Winter Hiatus, when no new episodes are aired from about mid-December to mid-January. If you’re anything like me, you’re anxious for things to start up again, growing bored out of your mind watching the only things available to you: reruns, holiday specials you’ve seen dozens of times, and drawn-out New Year’s Eve shows. Why must we endure this dearth of good television precisely during that time of year when pretty much everyone has time off?


Television networks have basically always run on the same schedule, with breaks during the summer (an even longer dry spell) and winter months. Traditionally, these times of the year are simply expected to draw fewer viewers. The reasoning here is sound, in that no network wants to air a new episode when people are more likely to be visiting with relatives or traveling than watching TV, but is that really the case anymore?


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Monday, Dec 3, 2012
While the popular show Once Upon a Time has some major shortcomings, we keep coming back for more. But why?

After the winter finalé of Once Upon a Time, I am left with both hope and skepticism. While this latest episode managed to retain a sense of cohesion and resolved a few of the perplexing concepts of the plot, quite a few issues with this popular series still remain. Despite some mediocre acting, a scattered and sometimes illogical trajectory, an overwhelming abundance of characters and unclear character motivations, Once Upon a Time still keeps me coming back for more. But why? What is it about this world of fairy tale (and Disney, and Arthurian, and Gothic novel) characters that remains so compelling?


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012
Beavis & Butt-head are back and have aged rather well. These two idiots have conditioned viewers rather well since their '90s heyday, having made a lasting impact on how we watch TV.

Beavis & Butt-head have returned to television after a nearly 15 year respite. Highland High’s favorite students haven’t changed all that much, which is fairly comforting. Yet, as welcome a presence as MTV’s witless and unwitting arbiters of taste may be, these two idiots have yet to repeat the sound and fury that accompanied their original run in the mid-‘90s.


With so much “reality”-based drivel having set a not-so-lofty standard, perhaps we’ve all grown a little too accustomed to shock factor television. Furthermore, Beavis and Butt-head paved the way for even more outrageous prime-time and cable network cartoons that tackle hot button topics of the day. Since Beavis & Butt-head dropped out of sight, shows like South Park and Family Guy have more than picked up the slack with off-color hilarity and social commentary.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Thursday, Jul 14, 2011
The funniest show on TV, FX's cartoon Archer, skewers the mentality of today's "Masters of the Universe" on Wall Street.

At one point in the FX cartoon Archer, Lana, a co-worker of the titular character, snaps at him: “I’m sick of you getting the best assignments just because your mother’s the boss. Do you know what that’s like?”


His reply: “Besides awesome?”


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Wednesday, Jun 22, 2011
We stuck around for the whole season, got our hopes up when things improved in the last few episodes, and this is the way it ends? Ugh. Spoilers abound, of course.

In the space of a week, AMC’s The Killing was renewed for a second season and wrapped up its first season. And the conclusion was mightily unsatisfying. Most TV critics and discerning viewers gave this show a shot based on both its pedigree and its strong start. AMC has launched a small group of highly intelligent original series over the past few years, including Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and the unjustly-ignored, now-canceled Rubicon. At first, The Killing seemed to fit right in with that lineup. It was dark and uncompromising, purporting to follow a murder investigation over the long term, with each episode covering another day in the case. But the show wasn’t just going to stay with our intrepid detectives, the dour Linden (Mireille Enos) and the twitchy Holder (Joel Kinnaman). It was also going to follow the mayoral campaign of Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell), the candidate in whose car Rosie Larson’s body was discovered. Most importantly, the show was also going to track the grief process of Rosie’s family, as they first learned of her death, through the funeral arrangements, and going forward.


This all worked beautifully for the first three or four episodes of the show. But things started to go astray in the middle of the season, as the detectives circled around Rosie’s teacher Bennet Ahmed (Malcolm David McLaren), a Muslim with a thing for pretty young students. Ahmed’s alibi for the night of Rosie’s death didn’t add up, but viewers knew that he wasn’t going to be the killer. So we spent a whole chunk of episodes as the show tried to convince us that it really was him, only to find out that of course it wasn’t. Things picked up again as the series entered its final stretch, with plot twists that seemed organic and actual headway being made in the case. An episode-long detour in the 11th episode, “Missing”, turned out to be valuable character development time as Linden and Holder spent the day searching for Linden’s truant teenage son. “Missing” was a great episode, far removed from the main premise of the show, and it would’ve fit nicely about halfway through the season to help us get to know our leads better. But coming two episodes away from the season finale, it almost felt like too little, too late.


Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.