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by Nathan Pensky

9 Dec 2010


One of the great strengths of television as a storytelling device is its episodic, yet indefinitely framed sense of time. Television’s season format allows for longer-form storytelling, longer still for stories that span the length of an entire series, while individual episodes allow for more focused moments. The viewer experiences narrative time both in measurements of years and the present moment.
 
This effect of story experienced both in the long and the short term is evident especially in shows that do not slavishly follow a timeline, but instead shake things up through flashback or dream sequence, as in Twin Peaks and The Sopranos, or in allowing longer periods to suspend between picking back up at the beginning of a season, as with Battlestar Gallactica and Mad Men. One of the most inventive uses of the return from “summer break” at the beginning of a season was the addition of Dawn in the Season 5 premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The sudden appearance of the Dawn character was instantly disorienting, but also interestingly significant of television’s standard practice of haphazardly inserting previously unknown characters into established narrative worlds.

by Melissa Crawley

9 Nov 2010


Gok Wan knows good body shapers and isn’t afraid to share. As the host of the UK version of How to Look Good Naked, Wan uses both fashion consultations and mini therapy sessions to teach women how to love what nature gave them. The series, which recently finished its sixth season on Channel 4, is a makeover show but wants to be a life-changing therapy session. This identity crisis reflects reality television’s love affair with therapeutic discourse, but does a disservice to why this show really works. It’s not Wan’s body image counseling that makes his guest feel great at the end of the hour. Rather, it’s his role as best friend.

by Joseph Fisher

2 Nov 2010


Since roughly the midpoint of its first season, Glee has been a train wreck. Which means that despite the show’s endless onslaught of WTF moments—like when Rachel and her estranged mother bond, love glue gunning all over the place, during a bizarre take on Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”—I have not been able to tear my eyes from it.

For a while, I’ve been trying to pinpoint exactly why the derailment happened. Mostly, my concerns have been about Glee’s slow transformation from a smart send-up of the High School Musical films (and teen dramas more generally) into a heavy-handed, humorless public service announcement. I held off on passing judgment on that transformation because the show did, once upon a time, seem innovative in its attempts to explore topics like physical disability, queerness, and interracial teen relationships. Excepting the wheelchair stunt double kerfuffle, Glee’s writers exposed those issues with equal amounts of satire and sincerity.

by Melissa Crawley

21 Oct 2010


A limo ride in The Real Housewives of D.C

At the end of a recent episode of The Event, the mysterious leader of an otherworldly group of visitors tells the American president that her people have been waiting “66 years” and their patience is running out. On the other hand, I’ve only been waiting a few hours to find out what the ‘event’ is and my patience ran out around episode two.

The Event is part Lost and part FlashForward. The group of mystery people alludes to Heroes, but without the charm of a villainous Sylar and the conspiracy aspect places it in the category of 24 but without the fierceness of a Jack Bauer. I might have more patience for this identity crisis if it wasn’t for the show’s reliance on back story flashbacks.

by Melissa Crawley

1 Oct 2010


In the opening sequence of the first episode of Nikita, Maggie Q is wearing a slinky bathing suit while fighting bad guys. Really? She’s so thin that I’m pretty sure they could just blow on her and run away. In the second episode, she’s wearing more clothes but they mostly consist of skintight leggings. This only seems to emphasize that her legs are about the same size as her arms.

Despite my feelings that Maggie should gain a few pounds, this is not a piece where I want to argue about Hollywood standards of beauty. For all I know, she has a hearty appetite and an enviable metabolism. I also don’t want to debate body image as presented in the media and its effect on women. If a woman is watching Nikita and searching for a role model, she should take note that an actor of Asian descent is the lead on an American TV series. What I do want to briefly examine is the issue of physicality and its relationship to the credibility of a character and their story.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Tibet House's 30th Anniversary Benefit Concert Celebrated Philip Glass' 80th

// Notes from the Road

"Philip Glass, the artistic director of the Tibet House benefits, celebrated his 80th birthday at this year's annual benefit with performances from Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Brittany Howard, Sufjan Stevens and more.

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