1. Not back on Tumblr just yet, but…

    Key and Peele’s Funk Lyrics

    (Corrections welcome)

    GOT A POCKET FULL OF FUNKY WITH A PEPPERMINT TWIST
    SHE'S A COOL SHIFTY MAMA BLASTIN' OFF ON THE FLIP
    IRIDESCENT PORK BELLY GALACTIC SUPER TRAIN
    MAMA SISTER PLAYGROUND WITH A STRAW DADDY CANE
    UH-HUH
    
    GOTTA GET IT UP
    GOTTA GET IT ON
    GOTTA GET IT DOWN
    GOTTA MAKE IT STRONG
    
    GOT THAT QUICK DIP CRAYON EARTHQUAKE JET PACK ON A BUN
    LOCOMOTIVE SUPERNOVA SPANISH HARLEM SUN
    SLICK CRAWFISH SOLAR BLAST WITH A PHOSOPHORESCENT BRAIN
    WHO'S THAT MAMMA SQUAT TOWN DEEP FRIED DETROIT SODA TRAIN
    
    GOTTA SHAKE IT UP
    GOTTA MOVE IT IN
    GOTTA PUT IT DOWN
    GOTTA MAKE IT SWIM
    
    NEBULATIC COMETS SANITATION DISEASE
    QUICK PLAY TORNADO RIP AND TICKLE BEEF SNEEZE
    SHIPS PLANETS JUSTICE CANNONS CABLES AND TREES
    DOCTOR'S OFFICE PENGUIN SHILLINGS RAILROADS AND PEAS
    I SAID CRIPPLED DONKEY MEL BROOKS BOOK TRAIN BATS ON MY KNEES
    PENICILLIN TRAPDOOR LASER CURRENCY BEANS
    
    HE SAY PENICILLIN TRAPDOOR LASER CURRENCY BEANS
    
    HEY WHAT THE HELL ARE WE SAYING MAN
    I GOT NO IDEA MAN I'M JUST HUNGRY AND TALKING ABOUT THE GALAXY AND TRASH
    I THINK THEY BUYING IT THOUGH
    
     
  2. East West Bowl 2013 (In Progress)

    Corrections welcome.

    East

    Coznesster Smiff      Rutgers University
    Elipses Corter        University of Alabama
    Nyquillus Dillwad     LSU
    Bismo Funyuns         Florida State University
    Decatholac Mango      Georgia Tech University
    Mergatroid Skittle    University of Louisville
    Quiznatodd Bidness    University of Tennessee
    D'Pez Poopsie         Ole Miss
    Quackadilly Blip      Auburn University
    Goolius Boozler       The U
    Bisquiteen Trisket    University of Michigan
    Fartrell Cluggins     University of Arkansas
    Blyrone Blashinton    Syracuse
    Cartoons Plural       Virginia Tech
    Jammie Jammie-Jammie  The Ohio State University
    Fudge                 (?)
    

    West

    Equine Ducklings                                  Indiana University Perdue University Indianapolis
    Dahistorius Lamystorious                          Utah State University
    Ewokoniad Sigourneth Juniorstein                  Oklahoma State University
    Eqqsquizitine Buble-Schwinslow                    University of Nebraska
    Huka'lakanaka Hakanakaheekalucka'hukahakafaka     University of Hawaii
    King Prince Chambermaid                           Baylor University
    Ladennifer Jadaniston                             University of Colorado
    Ladadadaladadadadada Dala-dadaladaladalada        University of Arizona
    Harvard University                                Devry University
    [Morse code]                                      Army-Navy Surplus Store
    ⬥♓■♑ ♎♓■♑⬧                                     Online Classes
    Firstname Lastname                                College University
    God                                               Homeschool
    Squeeeeeeeeeeps                                   Santa Monica College
    Benedict Cumberbatch                              Oxford University
    A.A. Ron Balakay                                  Morehouse College
    

    Update: Wing Dings character codes: 119, 105, 110, 103, 100, 105, 110, 103, 115, i.e., “wing dings” in Wingdings. Unicode equivs. via here.

     
  3. Eli is the greatest next-door-pervert of all time.

    (Source: hulu.com)

     
  4. Key and Peele’s Magic School Ratings. Vimeo link

    My favorite is definitely Snagglin’ Tripper’s Education Center.

     
  5. Excerpt from a conversation about sitcoms

    1. kukkurovaca: @Kalli @vossbrink Mainstream TV comedy today tends to skew hard toward "stories of the upper middle class and rich in...
    2. kukkurovaca: @Kalli @vossbrink "...in which poor or ostensibly poor people occasionally have antics also."
    3. vossbrink: @kukkurovaca @Kalli Or the young poor college graduates from upper middle class backgrounds...
    4. kukkurovaca: @vossbrink @Kalli Right. A lot of TV writers fundamentally do not understand that those people are not a real lower class.
    5. vossbrink: @kukkurovaca @Kalli To be expected in an industry which thrives on unpaid internships...
     
  6. Writing’s hard. That’s why only Aaron Sorkin and F’Scott Fitzgerald can do it.

    Cleveland Show, I love you.

     
  7. 13:29 29th Jan 2013

    Notes: 2

    Tags: FringeTV

    Most other series that have played with alternate timelines and changing history and transplanting memory and so forth has ultimately returned each character to the “real” or original version of themselves. The implication is always: people must be themselves, and all meaningful actions and choices proceed from that insistence on unique self-identity.

    Fringe as a series rejects that. Character identity is mixed-up, messy, often to the point of being non-sensical. What is primary is relationships, the choices we make about the people we care for, and the new choices that become possible because those people are present in our lives. Everything else proceeds from that. And solving the problem of the Observers — who are defined by having lost the ability to form these connections — was really a perfect way for Fringe to conclude.

    Reblogging myself by way of the last TV Fanatic Fringe roundtable.

     
  8. Some Thoughts on The Newsroom

    Recycling

    The Newsroom is almost entirely cannibalized from Sorkin’s previous work. Is this a problem? No and yes.

    There’s a sense in which Sorkin is like commedia del’arte — it’s about riffing on established themes, types, and scenarios. The familiarity of core elements is not a weakness, but a defining characteristic. That’s the genre. If you’ve seen two or more Sorkin shows, you’ve probably noticed it.

    But, that puts the onus on Sorkin to make that repetition work. He has to make each iteration feel specific, complete, and organic in its context. He has to sell it. And the acting and direction and editing all have to back him up in selling it. And in this, The Newsroom fails more often than it succeeds. What in West Wing and even Studio 60 felt charming and clever now feels stale and obligatory.

    It’s strange, because when I’m watching an episode, it feels like I’m just now realizing that something I thought was funny really isn’t. But that’s not the case. It worked before, and it’s broken now. Part of that is a writing issue — Sorkin’s not putting as much polish into the execution of the bits as he did in prior shows, and he’s also not building up to them properly.

    We’re seeing exchanges that should happen in mid-season happen in the first two episodes, and that’s jarring. I’m not a fan of the phrase “earning” in the context of evaluating writing, but honestly, it fits here. Sorkin’s not asking for the butter, he’s asking for the laugh, and he’s asking for it out of turn.

    But part of the problem is also on the performance/production side. In terms of the performances and the visual style, The Newsroom feels too much like The Office. Too much TV, not enough theater. And as aggravating as I find the writing in The Newsroom, it’s still Sorkin writing, which is not well-served by the indoor voices and the handheld camera.

    The Breakdown

    One of the most worrisome iterations in The Newsroom is Will’s little hallucination-triggered rant — a variation on Casey’s speech to Dan in the Sports Night pilot and Wes’s freakout on live TV in the Studio 60 pilot. The key difference is that we know — either at the time or in later context — that both those speeches are in some degree horseshit. Casey’s real issue is his divorce, and Dan calls him on it. Wes was the architect of his own failure, and we come to understand that as we get insight into the history of Danny, Matt, and Jack. And of course he loses his job and vanishes from the show’s stage entirely.

    But Will’s breakdown isn’t treated that way. Not only does nobody call him on his bullshit, but his boss and his ex-fiance actually re-arrange dozens of lives put millions of dollars on the line to enable his bullshit, and the audience is expected to stand up and clap.

    This is a real step backwards in terms of the kind of story that Sorkin’s telling and most especially in terms of the moral of that story. And what’s funny, or not so funny, is that it’s actually a much dumber, simpler, more palatable story.

    Women

    Mackenzie MacHale (seriously?) and Maggie Jordan are possibly the worst female characters I’ve seen on a Sorkin show. (Maybe not worse than Hallie Gallaway. It’s a tough call.) I find almost everything about them annoying, but the biggest problem is how they fit in relation to the rest of the cast and especially in relation to their male counterparts.

    Compare Mackenzie/Will to Dana/Casey, Josh/Mandy, or Danny/Jordan; compare Maggie/Jim (?) to Natalie/Jeremy. Both Newsroom pairs are obtained by taking their earlier counterparts and sucking most of the strength, professional acumen, assertiveness, and authority out of the female character and putting them in the male character. (Imagine what the beginning of West Wing would look like if Mandy had to essentially beg Josh for her job and serve at his pleasure. In fact, The Newsroom is almost exactly Josh’s fantasy of how that scenario should have played out.)

    Sorkin has often had issues with gender in the past. There’s a lot of nerd-machismo, West Wing had a strong paternalistic streak, and there are lots of little things you could ding him on if you wanted to. But almost none of his women were weak. Dana, Natalie, Sally, CJ, Donna, Abbey, Jordan, Harriet. Those characters are all quirky, idiosyncratic, sometimes cute, often neurotic — but they’re tough and smart and they don’t back down. That’s important not only because we need as many tough, smart, indefatigable women characters as we can get but because the banter/bicker web that holds a Sorkin show together depends on characters that can stand up to each other.

    Are there other ways to write good female characters? Of course. Can you write a good show with as many weak characters as strong characters? Of course. But that’s not what’s happening here. These women aren’t more nuanced than other Sorkin women, and the overall tone of this show isn’t more subtle or complex (quite the opposite). They’re just weaker, more deferential, more anxious, less useful, less powerful, less interesting. And that makes their relationships with the male characters less interesting. (And the men are also less interesting, since they wind up being the explainy/judgy daddy figures that have to be wheedled/placated/impressed.)

    After watching two episodes, I have to ask: did someone break up with Sorkin right before he began writing this series?

    Story

    The stories are lousy. There’s no actual journalism happening. We just get told that someone had a phone call with a person they inevitably knew already (relative/friend/college boyfriend) and that becomes the pretext for a bunch of Sorkinisms and posturing.

    And there’s always some of that in Sorkin, but Sports Night gave some indication that people were doing the actual work of journalism — editing, researching, writing, prepping. And Studio 60 persistently reminded us that writing and acting are jobs that take talent and effort. They weren’t Edward R. Murrow, but that baseline sense that people were doing the work was important, because that formed the basis for our ability to make sense of how much they cared about the work.

    And the straw men — again, this is something that you have to expect in Sorkin, but they’ve (if possible) gotten even more straw than before, and it seems especially obnoxious given the aggravatingly high-minded stance the show insists on (notionally) assigning to itself.

    More than any other Sorkin work, this feels like it could just as easily be published in the form of an op/ed screed. It’s just a big excuse for complaining about certain things combined with some golden age bullshit and some preening self-congratulatory displays of clever rhetoric.

    Again — that’s always been there in Sorkin. But until now, I never thought that was what was essential in Sorkin’s storytelling. I never thought that was the point of it. Now I wonder if maybe it was all along, and it just had better packaging before.

     
  9. image: Download

    Yeah, I find Scandal somewhat puzzling.

    Yeah, I find Scandal somewhat puzzling.

     
  10. Some things I wish Aaron Sorkin would do instead of more shows about tv shows

    So, here’s the thing. I’m super excited to get Sorkin back on TV. And yet, I am also rather wary. “You get your heart broken enough times, you learn your lesson.” Sorkin has done “show about a show.” He did it with Sports Night and made one of the greatest tv shows ever. He did it with Studio 60 and made an epic train wreck. Why is he going for two out of three? Why not try something else? For exmaple:

    Literally anything other than a show about a tv show, even if it’s a genre that’s played out.

    A Sorkin cop show? I would watch the shit out of a Sorkin cop show. Even a doctor show or a lawyer show. How about a prime time soap? Sure? Why the fuck not. Sorkin in space? Fuck yeah.

    If it was Sorkin doing something everyone else already does, then it’s something new, because it’s Sorkin. The only way for Sorkin not to be doing something new is to be doing exactly the same thing over and over again.

    A new — or old — format

    Plot and continuity are not Sorkin’s friends. So, why keep embracing continuity-heavy comedy-dramas? Why not go to an anthology series format? Tell standalone stories that cater to Sorkin’s theatrical style. Keep a standing cast, or rotate in new actors, or a combination of the two. Audiences aren’t familiar with this format anymore, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t adjust. People seem willing to tune into American Horror Story with a new premise on a seasonal basis; this wouldn’t be qualitatively more weird than that.

    A collaboration with someone who does plot really well

    Sorkin says "I kind of see plot as a necessary intrusion on what I really want to do." And if you’ve watched a lot of his tv writing, you know that’s true. Plot is a second-class citizen in the Sorkin kingdom. It’s given token respect on an episodic basis, and less than that when it comes to multi-episode arcs, let alone season-length arcs.

    So why not team up with someone who does plot really well. How about this, nerds: Sorkin and Straczynski. Just imagine it! Too crazy? Too wonderful to be? Okay, how about Sorkin and Shawn Ryan?