Posts Tagged ‘Television’


The History of Media – Visual Arts Edition Vol. 2

May 14, 2010
[Those of you following along will remember the cliffhanger ending of Volume 1, in which it was revealed that “something” would come along and destroy the movie industry with its tiny screen and tinny sound. In this followup, we reveal the true killer of the film industry, which is also one of the many pretenders to the throne. Enjoy.]


Early television prototypes often failed to include the only element that would differentiate them from a "really huge-ass radio."

A Disaster Called Television
Little did Roger Philco and Francois Magnavox know when they assembled the first “magic picture box” that it would change American society as we knew it, mostly for the worst. 

There was no indication during its early broadcasts of test patterns, puppet shows and white men in blackface that the daily life of Americans would soon revolve around it. Instead of gathering around the wireless to watch Dad get drunk and curse the Yankees, the whole family would gather around the tiny screen to watch Elvis from the waist up or catch breaking footage from the moon landing set. 

The movie industry understood how serious this new threat could be and stepped hastily over the still-cooling corpse of live theater to denounce the new “tele-vision,” which would surely destroy their precious industry. They lamented this turn of events, cursing every new box office record and crying into their stacks of $1000 bills. 

Representatives of the “dying” industry called on Congress to do “something” about the “talking picture-mabob.” How can we get people to sit in front of our 42-foot screens, enjoy our Technicolor and Sensurround when they have 3 inches of black and white power at home, all coming to them in deafening mono? 

Congress was too busy watching the National League Championship to be bothered by an outdated industry and their rhetorical questions, no matter how many bribes and high-dollar hookers they waved around. Another blow was struck when forward-thinking Dwight Eisenhower announced his bold plan for America: a television in every house, a car in every garage and an epidemic of childhood obesity. 

Still television's longest-running night time drama.

The movie industry was premature in its panic. Americans soon proved they had the leisure time for both activities, which could easily be squeezed in between backyard barbecues and conceiving the eventual bankrupters of Social Security. 

At this point, the average male enjoyed a 25-hour work week, divided between harassing the typing pool, pounding martinis and hitting the golf course. The remaining time they spent watering the lawn, washing the car, pounding martinis and pounding the wife (mostly in a sexual fashion, but often in a physical fashion). 

TV grew and grew, becoming the focal point of American family life. Television producers turned the mirror on the public, reflecting life as they knew it in the form of sitcoms, playing up spousal abuse (I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners) and sexless marriages (every other sitcom). They also went after more respected institutions with uncanny accuracy. (See The Andy Griffith Show and its devastating take on inept law enforcement and artistic whistling or Bewitched and its brilliant satire of the advertising world, long before Mad Men made it cool to be casually sexist again.) 

As its influence grew, television turned its unblinking eye on other “hot button” topics such as the Korean War (M*A*S*H*), teen hoodlums (Happy Days) and greed (every game show/reality show). TV devoured everything in its path over the next 50 years, before going all ouroboros and devouring itself, shitting out show after show containing no actors, no script and starring everyday people like Balloon Boy’s dad. 

As the airwaves were conquered by Joe Gloryhound and his occasionally-swapped wife, the film industry breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that TV’s “tapped-outness” would allow them to continue to collect billions of dollars a year cranking out sequel after sequel. Directors such as Michael Bay were allowed to continue trafficking in explosions and recycled punchlines. All was well in the word, until… 


Coming up next:


This Week’s Featured Soap Operas

October 9, 2009
Young at heart; Restless in legs

Young at heart; Restless in legs

This week on The Young & The Restless
Jack shoots first, leaves a detailed questionnaire with the cooling corpse. Sharon breaks hearts as a fictional character triumphing over scripted adversity. Gloria bets $200 on Black. Unbeknownst to Victor, his refrigerator warranty has expired. Paul hits Level 60 with his W.O.W. Rogue. Katherine develops ovarian cancer. And scurvy. Devon fires up some dramatic music, paces thoughtfully. A mysterious fire destroys Nicholas’ collection of common mid-’90s baseball cards. In a short-sighted and self-destructive act, Nikki begins killing off the other characters.

Gen. Hospital's illustrious military career was summed up by this screenshot, pathetic caption

Gen. Hospital's illustrious military career was summed up by this screenshot, pathetic caption

This week on General Hospital
Max’s bloodless coup fails miserably, mostly on the “bloodless” part. Alice watches old family movies, cries silently. Sonny blames his latest fight on his alcoholism, which he blames on his dyslexia. Surrounded by freshly buried corpses, Carly declares her battle with sanity a “tie.” Patrick’s abrasive behavior results in shunning, beating. Luke attempts to “monetize” his masturbation habit, with disastrous results. Samantha touches herself inappropriately; sues Judy Blume. Monica spends a quiet evening at home with a bottle of gin, a jar of peanut butter and the family dog. Jeff decides to fight “the war at home,” much to the dismay and terror of his neighbors. For reasons known only to him, Alfred begins sporting an eyepatch and goatee.


Oh, That Jason!

April 24, 2009


Developed by the fledgling Fox network in the early 1950’s, Oh That Jason!was the anchor of their Saturday night lineup (“You Can’t Un-Watch It!”) from 1953-55. Hailed by critics as “horrifying,” “reprehensible” and “relentlessly depraved,” Oh That Jason!has nonetheless gained a small cult following among the readers of Alan Truitt’s depressingly funny blog, Sick Days.

Below are some highlights of Oh That Jason’s three season run:

Debut Episode
We meet Jason’s family (wife Mary, son John and daughter Amy) as well as being introduced to their farming neighbors, Willie, Ethel and their son, Jed. With Willie away on business, Ethel takes over the “man’s work.” Hilarity ensues as Ethel realizes she is over her head and loses an arm to the combine.

Episode 8
Jason’s wife tries to organize a community garden but is incarcerated by the local police following a tip from a visiting Joseph McCarthy. Meanwhile, John puts into practice some valuable lessons gleaned from his literature assignment, Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” Hilarity ensues. Special Guest: Joseph McCarthy as himself, delivering a speech on the dangers of mutual effort.

Episode 12
Jason takes a business trip to Las Vegas, where some associates talk him into visiting a burlesque house. Jason is in the clear until he runs into his wife’s sister Emma, a burlesque performer. After a long night “out with the boys,” Jason finds himself racing to the airport to make his plane. Will he remember that Emma’s body is still in the rental car trunk? Hilarity ensues.

Episode 16
Jason’s neighborhood association greets the newest addition to their suburb, a Negro family from Alabama. They waste no time welcoming them by constructing them their own set of bathrooms, a seat on the bus and their very own table near the rear of the local eatery! Unfortunately, their new neighbors soon return to Alabama after discovering they possess the most flammable lawn on the block.

Episode 23
When their neighbors are suddenly called away for a family emergency, Jason and his family offer to watch their new infant until they return. Hilarity ensues as the child proves to be a handful. Jason’s wife discovers that a car ride seems to calm the baby and Jason makes the best of the situation by organizing a late night road trip to Safe Haven, Nebraska. Special guest: Gilbert Gottfried as the Colicky Baby.

Episode 26
In a crossover with Leave It to Beaver, Jason’s son John becomes fed up with Wally’s conniving, two-faced shit and beats him to death in the basement. Hilarity ensues as the family comes together to cover up the hideous crime.

Episode 32
In this very special Christmas episode, daughter Amy volunteers at the local soup kitchen. She overhears some of the patrons speaking about “riding a white horse.” She trails them to the “wrong side of the tracks,” where she learns a little drug slang and a lot about life. As the police sweep in to deliver a savage beating to the strung-out addicts, Amy breathes a sigh of relief and vows never to help anyone again.

Episode 37
Returning from a business trip to Mexico, Jason agrees to help out a kindly stranger by carrying his bag through customs. Unfortunately, the bag is full of marijuana and Jason is detained by the local police. Hilarity ensues as the situation is sorted out. Jason finally returns home to his wife, telling her, “There are no hard feelings. The police were just doing their job. And, as usual, they did it half-assed.” Jason and Mary enjoy this delicious pun as he points to the baggies of black-tar heroin floating in the toilet. Special guest: Charlton Heston as Detective Edward Mendoza. 

Episode 44
Summer has arrived and Jason takes his family on vacation to a log cabin in the woods. While reading some selections from a leather-bound set of Good Housekeeping magazines, Jason inadvertently awakens an evil deep within the forest. Hilarity ensues as the family fights off evil trees, reanimated corpses and Jason’s own hand, which has gone evil.

Episode 51
In this season finale turned series finale, Jason’s son John has a “Who’s on First” type conversation with his coach while trying to explain how exactly he “plays for the other team.” Hilarity ensues.