Friday, December 16, 2005

Something Old, Nothing New

Yesterday, I found myself engrossed--nay, hypnotized--for several hours by Something Old, Nothing New, a well-written blog of pop culture criticism with surprising depth in a variety of subjects.

The author's interests include vintage and current sitcoms, dramas, animation, movies, musicals, comics, and Charles Dickens.

More specifically, the blog includes great posts on:

-The Love Bug

-The cancellation of Arrested Development

-How Veronica Mars makes its unlikely premise acceptable

-Sledge Hammer! and the arrogance of Sledge Hammer! creator Alan Spencer

-Archie Comics' best writer, Frank Doyle, and how he was Seinfeldian before there was a Seinfeld

-The TV version of Weird Science, including how many of its writers came from Parker Lewis Can't Lose and went on to (this was a surprise) Desperate Housewives

-Why the Arrested Development-influenced My Name is Earl has found greater success than Arrested Development

-The merits of Remington Steele

-The creation of Jem and the Holograms, and how the show succeeded even as the toy line failed

-The unique political viewpoint of King of the Hill

6 comments:

Michael the girl said...

On the basis of the "something old" reference, when I read this post I immediately misread it as "I found myself engaged...." not "engrossed." Scared myself for a moment there, thinking you might actually make such a huge announcement nonchalantly. Then again, it's probably my fault for being in wedding mode and automatically filling in with the phrase "something old, something new..."

C said...

i don't like parallel universes where everything is the same, but it just isn't you and your friends.

Kenny said...

Huh? What do you mean?

Zack said...

The Family Guy critique is articulate. It's also boneheaded, for the same reason that his post in defense of laugh tracks -- motherfucking LAUGH TRACKS -- is boneheaded: he's got very strange assumptions about what all creative works ought to be.

He says that laugh tracks should be in TV comedies because that helps to brand them. That is, he thinks comedies with laugh tracks are more successful than comedies without (so far so good) and that therefore it would be great if all comedies had laugh tracks. That's like saying all web ads should be pop-overs because they're more successful than sidebar or banner ads. He's conflated the creator's financial interests with the viewer's interest in entertainment or usability, which is no small feat. How about we give all criminals laser guns, since criminals with laser guns tend to be more successful than criminals without? Yeah?

Likewise, he says that Family Guy is bad because ... Stewie's a ripoff? Who the hell cares? The point of a TV comedy, from the audience's point of view, is -- and correct me if I'm wrong here -- to be funny, to make the viewer laugh. That's what I'm looking for, at least. A base physiological reaction, the best uncontrollable physical experience short of orgasm. Stewie's a ripoff of Jimmy Corrigan? Of the Brain? So what? He's also funny ... or he's not, depending on your reaction to the material.

Family Guy doesn't set out to be original. It's not supposed to inspire and influence future comedy writers. It's supposed to make you belly laugh. That's all it aspires to. If you ask me, the only sensible criticism to a show like that is, "I didn't think it was funny." All his reasons are just post facto rationalizations for his irrational (but that's okay!) dislike of the show.

Of the five hardest, most joyful and uncontrollable belly laughs I've had watching TV, probably four came from Family Guy, and the fifth from either Mr Show or Upright Citizen's Brigade. So Family Guy is okay by me.

Sorry. I know this was long.

Jaime J. Weinman said...

Just for the record, I wasn't saying (or at least, I didn't think I was saying) that all shows should have laugh tracks, just that I think the absence of a laugh track can make it harder for a show to succeed. It may be creatively frustrating to put in a laugh track, but I wasn't speaking from the viewpoint of what's better creatively, but what I think is better for a show's chances of success. Let's say I was taking off my fake-critic hat and putting on my fake-executive hat.

Deven said...

Hey Great Blog. As much as Family guy used to rock in the first few seasons, it is getting down every season with same stale comedy and jokes. IMO Souht Park and SImpsons are also going down the hill.

Anyway for those who can not download Family guy from torrents and are looking for all Seasons of Family guy, they can download it from here -

http://www.mwolk.com/tv-shows/family-guy-season-1
http://www.mwolk.com/tv-shows/family-guy-season-2
http://www.mwolk.com/tv-shows/family-guy-season-3
http://www.mwolk.com/tv-shows/family-guy-season-4
http://www.mwolk.com/tv-shows/family-guy-season-5

Hope this helps others.
Cheers