Visualizing recurring jokes with the Bluths

May 15th, 2013  |  Tags: ,  |  1 Comment

Recurring Developments is an interactive visualization of running jokes throughout the first three seasons of Arrested Development. Click on a joke to see arcs to episodes in which it occurred, or click on an episode to see arcs to the jokes that appear in it. Of related interest, see also this Will Leitch piece about Arrested Development’s popularity, changes in television viewing patterns, and the increasingly long tail of mass media. (The thing that resonates most with me about Leitch’s piece is that the first time I saw Arrested Development — the first episode of the second season, when it aired — I didn’t know that many of the running jokes were running jokes, but I was able to recognize the intricacy of the narrative, and that this was a show that rewarded viewers for paying attention.)

It’s not you, it’s me

April 10th, 2012  |  Tags:  |  5 Comments

We recently cancelled our pay television service because we have watched approximately 90 minutes of live or time-shifted TV1 in the last six months and six months’ worth of subscription fees amortizes extremely poorly2 over 90 minutes of programming. This isn’t a knock against our former pay-television provider, which has always provided a good product at a competitive price with excellent and friendly customer service; it’s just that theirs is a product that we don’t wind up actually using often enough to justify a continued subscription.

As you might expect, I had to address a friendly customer service representative’s numerous scripted objections, discount offers, and repeated suggestions that I just put the service on hold and cool off for a while before doing anything rash, all before I could get the cancellation processed in the first place. However, I was surprised that they’ve called me twice in the last week with special offers to try and get me to sign on again. I sincerely appreciate such aggressive customer-retention efforts, but this is quickly becoming more awkward than a teenaged breakup.

1 I am not counting the half of the Timberwolves-Clippers game that I mostly slept through while recovering from one of our many kindergarten-originated stomach bugs, since I was in such bad shape that it may as well have been a test pattern. Furthermore, we have watched DVD movies, iTunes content, Netflix streaming, etc.; I am emphatically not questioning the utility of the television itself.
2 I’m actually having trouble coming up with a way to spend more money on less entertainment without being deliberately wasteful, like buying recently released video games and grilling them, unopened, over direct heat.

The Wire as serialized Victorian novel

March 24th, 2011  |  Tags:  |  Leave a comment

It would be difficult to improve upon this amazing riff on The Wire, which recasts the series as a serialized Victorian novel:

Literature today is no longer concerned with morality the way it was in the nineteenth century. Unrelenting, bleak images of society are celebrated for their realism, as representations of humanity. And yet, we have very few images, representations, or new and challenging canon that captures the essential helplessness, the inevitable corruption, the deep-lying flaws of both society and humanity in the way The Wire does. Again, I would contend that such a feat could only be accomplished in the Victorian Age, through the serial format, which allowed for such layered complexity. In no other way could such a richly textured tapestry of a city be constructed from ground-level up. In no other way could the faults in the underlying foundations of society’s institutions be exposed. In no other way could our own society be held up for our examination, and found so sadly lacking.

Read the whole thing, which contains some salty language but few consequential spoilers for The Wire itself.


September 9th, 2008  |  Tags: , , ,  |  1 Comment

Sesame Street, circa 2008: dominated by a whiny scene-stealing muppet who constantly refers to himself in the third person, Snuffleupagus has not been a figment of Big Bird’s imagination for over 20 years, Andrea Bocelli has guest-starred, etc.

Sesame Street, circa 1972: this:

At least they’re producing it in HD now, I guess.

Television notes (convention edition)

August 29th, 2008  |  Tags: ,  |  Leave a comment

What I saw on television last night was thrilling, well-produced, and inspirational — and it left me eager to see more. I truly have something to be excited about this fall!

Of course, I refer to televised football (real college players and soon-to-be-unemployed pro players), and to our introduction to the first season of AMC’s Mad Men on DVD. (Friends of this site know well that your humble scribe has far better things to do than see a tedious political infomercial full of the same whorish rhetoric we’ve heard for this entire interminable election season.)

Mad Men is great so far in almost every way that matters. I noticed, though, that the closing credits rubbed me the wrong way. I elected not to point out the details to Andrea (since I fear she is quite weary of this specific branch of my nerddom), but then I noticed this article in my RSS reader this morning. Yeah, what he said.