by Josie Kafka
This Week: Game of Pups -- Babies of Space -- Death of Chaos -- Reign of Ratings -- Leftovers of Lindelof -- Trailer of Defiance -- Schadenfreude of the Peacock -- Capitalism of Cats -- Butt of Jokes.
The Game of Pups
It comes but once a year: the moment in which all of America puts aside the differences, reaches for the buffalo wings, and celebrates the ritualized violence of commercial sports. That’s right, folks: the Big Game was last Sunday, and wow—it was a doozy!
I refer, of course, to the Ninth Annual Puppy Bowl, which traditionally airs on the Animal Planet channel one Sunday out of each year, usually towards the end of January. From the nipping and the biting of adorable pups to the hedgehog cheerleader’s skimpy outfits—not to mention the infamous Kitty Half-Time Show—the Annual Puppy Bowl is, undeniably, the cutest thing in the entire world. Here’s a glimpse:
The Babies of Space
Of course, there was another big game this week. Obviously, I’m talking about the Big Game of Advertising Dollars, in which millions of Americans put aside all differences to come together in the spirit of consumerism and buffalo wings. (It has that in common with the Puppy Bowl.) While there are numerous sites that offer a selection of advertisements for your enjoyment, I thought it best to cut to the chase and just give you the cutest darn ad I’ve ever seen. I have no idea what it’s for, and don’t care, but I hope ChrisB likes it, since she recently mentioned an affection for astronaut power-walks.
The Death of Chaos
Not all the news this week involved scampering puppies and pandas dressed as astronauts, though. Robin Sachs, who played Ethan Rayne on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and various other characters in everything else) passed away suddenly this week. Let’s raise a glass to chaos in his honor.
The Reign of Ratings
George R.R. Martin, writer of the Song of Ice and Fire series on which the TV show Game of Thrones is based, has inked a two-year development deal with HBO. Apparently many fans are in an uproar over Martin’s latest distraction from the hard work of finishing the series, but I’ve never been one of those fans. I like that a trollish writer is managing to rake in big bucks telling cool stories, and Martin’s first love was TV, so it must be fun for him to return. Hopefully he’ll create exciting new ideas for HBO and be spurred to finish the last books of A Song of and Fire. The best of both worlds, eh?
The Leftovers of Lindelof
In addition to distracting Martin from his magnum opus, HBO has optioned a new pilot from Lost’s Damon Lindelof. The Leftovers, based on Tom Perrotta’s book of the same name, is about the people left behind after a Rapturesque event. Lindelof and Perrotta will executive-produce the series if it is picked up by HBO, which it almost surely will be.
I’m excited about this. Darn excited. Lindelof said, months ago, that he would avoid any “wackadoo” mythology in this project, but even his less wacky recent works (Prometheus, Star Trek) are thought-provoking and fun. I’m starting to suspect that he’s a writer/creator/etc whose work appeals to me, almost regardless of the topic. It’s a pleasant feeling, knowing I can add him to the short list of people (Joss Whedon) who are always good for an amusing, talk-aboutable story.
The Trailer of Defiance
SyFy’s latest entry in the original programming sweeps premieres on April 15th. Defiance is a post-semipocalypse alien-invasion story with an impressively complex Wikipedia page and an interesting cast that includes Julie Benz (Angel, Dexter), Mia Kirshner (The L Word, The Vampire Diaries), and Fionnula Flanagan (Lost). The newly-released trailer looks fun, although I’m never as impressed by SyFy shows as I want to be.
The Schadenfreude of the Peacock
After a long, long, long hiatus, Community returned to our homes and our hearts this week with a fairly good episode—the first under a new showrunner. (Mark Greig’s review is here.) That might be the last good news in a while for the network that seems doomed to peacock itself into bankruptcy, as the much-vaunted Thursday night comedy block seems doomed to collapse:
• 30 Rock ended last week to high acclaim and general laughter. I’m glad Tina Fey’s show got to go out on a high note, although I will miss my weekly dose of silliness.
• The Office will, as we all expected, finally close its doors on May 16th. That hour-long episode will be the show’s 200th, which is an impressive number, although quality and ratings have been lacking in recent seasons.
• Christina Applegate is leaving Up All Night, the sitcom in which she stars with Will Arnett. According to TVLine, Applegate said, “It’s been a great experience working on Up All Night, but the show has taken a different creative direction and I decided it was best for me to move on to other endeavor.”
And, in further peacocking news, NBC has canceled Do No Harm after just two episodes. The medical Jekyll/Hyde thriller (or is that “thriller” in ironic quotation marks?) earned the lowest rating for any mid-season debut on a network ever. Ever. Sunbunny’s review is here, in case you want to relive the pilot.
I’ve written about NBC’s bizarre “we don’t need to succeed all of the time” mission statement before, and I won’t repeat myself here. But I will admit to a certain schadenfreude: the once-strong network has made so many mistakes, so frequently and with such wild abandon, that it’s like watching a slo-mo car crash. Perhaps the March return of Revolution will mark an upswing for the mismanaged network, but I have my doubts.
The Capitalism of Cats
Monopoly—the most boring board game ever invented—just got a little cooler. After polling game-players in eight countries, Hasbro games has decided to replace the iron token (because who chooses that willingly?) with a kitten. Cat lovers, rejoice! Soon, we shall dominate Boardwalk and Park Place with our capitalist kitties!
The Butt of Jokes
Two different co-workers (who don’t know each other) recommended this article to me last week, and I found it quite interesting. The author’s argument is that The Big Bang Theory only seems to be nerd-friendly: in fact, it pokes fun at nerds and encourages the presumably "normal" audience to do the same. I found the argument convincing, but I have only watched 5 minutes of TBBT. So I asked the Doux Reviews writers what they thought, and here’s a sampling of their responses. [I’ve edited a bit but hopefully haven’t misrepresented anyone.]
Paul made the argument that the author is “only seeing things from the nerd perspective. He appears to have taken offense at how the show makes us laugh at nerds, but doesn't seem to comment (unless it's in the bit I haven't yet read) on how it also pokes fun at Penny, at people with speech impediments, at Asians, at religion, at Jews, at women.... and at just about everyone/thing. There are obviously more nerdy jokes, because there are more nerds per capita than there are dumb blonds, but I think the show basically pokes fun at every stereotype it can lay its hands on…I don't think we're supposed to sympathise with Penny and laugh at the nerds. We laugh at Penny a lot, too... and rarely because she came out with some great joke.”
In addition to being an equal-opportunity offender, TBBT just might portray nerds more realistically than other shows. Katie pointed out that TBBT offers up a variety of “shades of nerdiness in the characters. Most shows lump all the geeky stereotypes into one character, this show divvies them up and adds enough differences to make each of the characters realistic.”
That spectrum of nerdiness was a frequent comment. Sunbunny argued that “a lot of shows that have nerd characters just focus on their nerdiness. TBBT shows that as well, but also communicates how crazy crazy smart the nerds are,” while Billie explained, “It has degrees of nerdiness, from Leonard to Sheldon; they're not just stereotypes, and since they're the heroes, I mostly laugh with them, not at them.”
Are we all laughing with them? Maybe not. Mark explained that his “main problem with TBBT is not that it spends more time laughing at its characters than with them. I just don't find it funny in any way. I've tried watching it a few times and it couldn't get so much as a snigger out of me.” Gus agreed, “I don't find it funny...I think Community is much more nerd friendly than TBBT. I know it's not the point, but I wanted to make it anyway.”
Readers, what do you think?