What we read while getting used to writing “2013″…
What we read while the world ended and started up again…
What we read while watching Bin Laden watch himself…
What we read while wondering what the original Holy Saturday was like…
Anyone who picks up Bill Carter’s new book about last January’s late night TV debacle—The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy—looking for a villain is destined to be disappointed. This is not for lack of effort. The book is impressively comprehensive about NBC’s decision to move Jay Leno from The Tonight Show to primetime and back again and the disaster that followed. Carter gives detailed histories of and various perspectives on all the major players involved—Leno, Conan, Jeff Zucker, David Letterman, Jeff Gaspin, etc.—but in the end nobody comes off as an evil monster responsible for the train wreck. Instead, we get a fascinating example of how a bunch of people all acting with the best intentions can lead to the worst possible outcome.
“If they’d come in and shot everybody—I mean, it would have been people murdered. But at least it would have been a two-day story. I mean, yes, NBC could not have handled it worse, from 2004 onward.” —Jay Leno Continue reading
What we read on our 48-hour sabbatical from MSNBC…
As most dedicated Seinfeld fans know, the initial concept for what would become one of the best live-action sitcoms of all-time was an exploration of how comics get their material. The pilot episode was edited such that the action cut back and forth between Jerry’s life and Jerry on stage. And while the next few episodes maintained this format, the stand-up segments of the show were gradually scaled back, soon only appearing at the beginning and end of every episode, then only the beginning, and by the end of the show’s run not at all. By that point, of course, the show had evolved into the “show about nothing”—as opposed to a study of the life of a comic—that we all know and love.
Last night’s premiere of Louie on FX, though, is almost a look at what that initial concept could have looked like. Whereas Seinfeld quickly abandoned the stand-up conceit in favor a more general sitcom formula—with secondary characters and sets and cohesive plots—Louie’s first two episodes show no traces of those things. Instead we see C.K. play a man named “Louis C.K.” who, like the real C.K., is divorced with two kids who attend public school, lives in New York City, and works as a stand-up comedian. We see him on stage performing, and then we see little short films or vignettes that flesh out the ideas he talks about on stage. In some ways, it’s kind of like that old Comedy Central show Pulp Comics, except not awful. Continue reading
The Cupcake: An Abomination to the Dessert Genre
When I started writing for NPI, I knew I was going to take some unpopular positions. But, never did I anticipate taking a position as unpopular as this one is going to be. I am against the cupcake. Cupcakes are a poor man’s cake and an even poorer man’s muffin.* Cupcakes are to desserts as The Marriage Ref is to Jerry Seinfeld or what Derek Bell is to the 2000 Mets. Cupcakes are an embarrassment to the dessert genre.
*Occassionally, they attempt to be an impoverished-man-on-the-brink-of-bankruptcy-and-death’s brownie, but these cupcakes make up such a minority of the cupcake population that I’ll leave them out of the equation.
What we read while Avatar lost–FUCK YEAH…
- Tim has done his best to prove that he kinda likes The Simpsons; he also wants you to know he kinda likes Simpsons-themed photography as well. He so wants to do this with his Talking Chief Wiggum from Burger King.
- One of the best parts about the Internet is that it’s vast enough to include an archive of some of the dumbest things said about the Internet, which can then be brought up years later and mocked…on the Internet.
The following things were written following the “sneak peek” of The Marriage Ref—the new show from Jerry Seinfeld that has been promoted like it was the boss’ son—that aired after Sunday’s Closing Ceremonies on NBC:
“And then, just as the ceremonies were reaching a brilliant crescendo of Canadian self-satire, NBC cut away… to the premiere/preview of Jerry Seinfeld’s The Marriage Ref, the most God-awful mishmash of a comedy-variety show to lead into local news on NBC since immediately before the Olympics.”
“Painful, pointless, obnoxious… I would almost rather have The Jay Leno Show back.”
“I had just watched 30 minutes of the goofy Olympic Closing Ceremony which was — and I say this with all due respect to my second favorite country on earth — the sort of thing you would see if you gave a third grade teacher $30 million to put on a school play. And that 30 minutes at the Olympics was like heaven, like sheer bliss, like a show co-written by William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Mel Brooks and the author of the 23rd Psalm compared to The Marriage Ref.”
“The only good thing I could find about this was the fact that I only had to watch half an episode. When the show comes back on Thursday, it’ll be a full hour long. And that’s probably the worst thing about it.”
“Would you rather watch dolphins get slaughtered, or would you rather sit through a second episode of The Marriage Ref?”
It’s worth noting that all of these statements came from writers who have made a point of highlighting their appreciation of Jerry Seinfeld and his classic sitcom (the first quote came from James Poniewozik of Time, the second from TV critic Alan Sepinwall, the third from sportswriter Joe Posnanski’s blog, the fourth from Todd VanDerWerff at The AV Club, and the last form Bill Simmons’ Twitter). I cannot remember the last time, if ever, a show with such a prominent and well-regarded name attached to it has failed so spectacularly. Continue reading