Conan O’Brien stopped by the Google megaplex at part of their @Google series. He takes the stage to the tinny sound of bagpipes before launching into a bit about the silliness of being labeled a “Googler”. Guess he’s on the tech circuit now following his appearance at Twitter and Intel corporate headquarters previously. He says he’s just looking for “free stuff” by way of explaining his recent residency in the Silicon Valley. O’Brien deliciously skewers Google corporate culture too.
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Volumes could be written about You Can’t Do That on Television, the Canadian kids’ show which ran in the States on the cable channel Nickelodeon all through the 1980s and into the ‘90s. Subversive in its silliness as great comedy often is, YCDTOTV offered a brand of children’s sketch comedy that has yet to be duplicated to this writer’s knowledge. And the intro to the show fairly neatly captures all that makes the show itself great.
The theme music is bizarrely catchy, an odd marching-band arrangement punctuated by screams. This gives a very definite Monty Python feel to the intro, as does the use of cut-out animation. Then, there is the cutting imagery of the “Children’s Television Sausage Factory”, mechanically cranking out “product” of child actors on an automated assembly line. This ought to resonate with anyone who has ever noticed how insultingly bland and rote a lot of children’s televison can be. Then, the kids are loaded onto a bus and cut loose in a TV studio. The face of Les Lye, the actor who played all of the adult male roles on the show, in various costumes and with various voices, is stamped with the show’s title. This is a fairly empowering image for the young viewer, a sort of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” for the Romper Room set.
One often wishes to take care to not tread down the glittery lane towards nostalgia, lest one gets stuck living in the past. So it is nice to see that something one grew up watching turned out to be far more layered and interesting than one could have articulated at the time.
Just watch for the green slime.
You might remember from 2007, FOX’s short-lived, American Idol-inspired The Next Great American Band TV series. The highlight of every episode was the spirited, country-flavored performances of the Clark Brothers, who went on to be named the show’s winners. Legal setbacks and record company mergers delayed their promised album deal prize, but now the group is back with a new name, Sons of Sylvia, and a new album.
To help promote Revelation, which was released in the US this month, their official website is offering a free MP3 download of “John Wayne”, a possible future single. Tinted with the western sounds of the mandolin and dobro guitar playing that made them stand out on television, “John Wayne” is a fierce ode to chasing down the one you love, like John Wayne would have done in one of his movies. Starting slow, it gradually builds up to an intense, fiery chorus that has the passion of a revivalist preacher.
Well this is just fantastic. This video takes the Susan-dies-from-envelope-licking arc from Seinfeld and splices it together to make it seem like George Costanza is recovering from a serious tragedy (which, come to think of it, would be true if the situation happened to any “normal” person). Honestly, if Avatar was even nominated for an Oscar, this deserves to stand right beside it.
Will George ever find love again? Tune in and find out.
If television has taught us anything, it’s that teen angst is about as enduring a theme as police corruption and overbearing in-laws. Just ask Ryan Murphy, who has seemed to make a nice career out of it, with his bygone WB series Popular and his current Sue Sylvester-ific Glee. Yet, with so many high school shows out there, is there still room for innovation? MTV thinks so and it seems to be ripping a page from one of HBO’s newest dramedies.
The Hard Times of RJ Berger, premiering in June, follows the life of its protagonist, RJ, an awkward, pale guy with glasses who’s just trying to get by in high school. Sexually adventurous parents, bullying jocks, cougar moms with hidden agendas, and rigged school elections are just some of the obstacles he must face. It all sounds pretty typical high school fare, except for the fact that RJ happens to be particularly well-endowed and that seems to be one of his defining characteristics. If the trailer is any indicator, the show has some promise.