The Dim-Post

March 10, 2014

Intial thoughts/questions on the True Detective finale (spoilers, obviously)

Filed under: tv — danylmc @ 10:10 pm

If I have this right – and I think I do – the big clue that blew the case is that Errol William Childress chased a girl through the woods wearing green ear-guards, and Marty remembered that a house they visited while investigating the Lang case was painted green, and got a hunch that the guy who wore green ear guards might have painted that house green.

That’s what happened, right? Or do I have this wrong? Did the mystery with some of the best writing I have ever seen in a TV drama NOT have the absolute dumbest, worst plot development of any crime show ever?

Also stuff that I don’t think was in the finale, but surely I missed it because how could they leave it out: why was Dora Lang positioned so the police could find her? Why wasn’t she buried at Carcosa with all the other victims? Who lit the fire? Why? And what was going on with Marty’s daughter? Y’know, that major plotline that ran throughout the entire series except for the final episode?

February 16, 2013

Now I, too, have watched Seven Sharp and have an informed opinion on it

Filed under: tv — danylmc @ 8:02 am

I saw last night’s episode, and it wasn’t too bad. Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t like it and I’ll never watch it again but in terms of news value it didn’t seem worse than your average episode of Close-Up. The first story was about youth binge drinking – as was every other episode of Close-Up – with the usual stock-footage of kids stumbling around plastered, slurring amusing things to the camera. The context was that the government’s alcohol reforms weren’t going to fix this, but they didn’t explain what the reforms were, or weren’t.

The interview was with a PR shill from the alcohol industry. The presenters didn’t seem to know anything about the subject so the shill was unchallenged. Greg Boyd’s done well-prepped interviews on Q & A, so I blame the producer and the researcher.

As many others have pointed out, the tone is a bit weird; the opening segment contained a joke about Oscar Pistorius, and normally I’d find a gag about an athlete murdering his girlfriend hilarious, but this one didn’t quite work for me. And they haven’t solved the technical challenges of a three person hosted live-show; that’s still a bit of a mess. But these things take time. Remember Paddy Gower’s first few months of TV journalism? It was pretty bad, and now he’s the Mother of the Nation.

Much has been made of the fact that they lost 200,000 viewers in a week. If they’re losing those viewers from TV1’s older demographic I doubt they care.  Those people don’t buy the products that Seven Sharp’s advertisers sell. If they lose 200,000 viewers over fifty and gain 50,000 viewers under 30 then that’s a ratings win for TVNZ.

January 18, 2012

Very, very cautious.

Filed under: tv — danylmc @ 3:07 pm

I missed this. Via Tim Watkin, who writes on the Inside New Zealand child poverty doco:

Scoop reports that NZOA board member Stephen McElrea raised concerns about this screening several days earlier, on November 17. Seemingly under the misapprehension this was a comedy rather than a documentary, McElrea wrote to the NZOA Chair and CEO, “To me, it falls into the area of caution we show about political satire near elections.”

NZOA’s policy seems to be that no political satire will be produced in New Zealand in the three year period immediately before or after a general election.

December 14, 2011

Watch it alone. Gloriously alone

Filed under: tv — danylmc @ 3:25 pm

Via NotPC:

I’ve just been told that over the Xmas break Stratos will be screening the Best of Perigo!, 6 favourite episodes of the Perigo! show re-screened, starting with Lindsay’s interview with the dear, departed Roger Kerr this Thursday at 8.00pm on Stratos, Sky 89, and ending with his Ayn Rand Special—about which he said, “This is it for me … I couldn’t be prouder.”

These are the shows, in the order they’ll go out:

1 – Roger Kerr
2 – Muriel Newman
3 – Don Brash 2
4 – The Mad Butcher
5 – Deborah Coddington
6 – The Ayn Rand Special

August 11, 2011

In-joke of the day

Filed under: tv — danylmc @ 2:30 pm

Gale’s full karaoke video:

 

According to Wikipedia, William Shatner will also cover this song on his upcoming album.

June 1, 2011

Ohhhhh

Filed under: tv — danylmc @ 5:16 pm

You know what I realised the other day? Bryan Cranston was on Seinfeld! He played the dentist who kept Penthouse magazines in his waiting room, and when Jerry recovered from his anaesthetic his underwear was inside out.

April 14, 2011

And another thing

Filed under: media,tv — danylmc @ 7:16 am

I was so into my tedious anecdote in the previous post that I forgot to endorse Breaking Bad as lowish culture. I’m not sure if it’s screened in New Zealand – most US based TV critics named it as the best show of 2010, so I guess TVNZ are avoiding it like the plague. The basic plot is that a chemistry teacher working at a high school in New Mexico finds out he has lung cancer so he becomes a methamphetamine cook to provide for his family after he’s gone, and hilarity ensues. Great stuff – but hey, don’t take my word for it – just ask Phil Collins.

The Onion AV Club has rolling in-depth reviews of the show that I read after watching each episode – apparently this is standard for TV critics writing about popular shows now, and a huge driver of web traffic to entertainment sites. Seems the job(?) of being a TV critic has changed from recommending shows to analysing them post-screening.

Which made me think about TVNZ and their recent Tivo debacle, and the way I watch TV now which is that someone recommends a show to me and I borrow it or buy it or rent it on DVD and Maggie and I watch one episode an evening. I don’t want to watch an episode a week, even if I can automatically record it and live-rewind it etc. I don’t think we’re that unique -I suspect the availability of entire seasons on DVD  has changed viewing habits for a lot of consumers – but so far as I know there’s no consumer technology available that lets you do that – ie pick a show from a vast library and download/stream it at will, or at least, none that lets you do this legally and pay a fee.

March 7, 2011

Ultimate left-wing novel

Filed under: books,tv — danylmc @ 1:24 pm

One of Tyler Cowen’s readers asks:

I am hoping you and your readers can help settle an issue. I am a left-leaning voter.  A conservative friend and I recently discussed Atlas Shrugged, which he said was the ultimate right-wing novel. He challenged me to point him towards a left-wing novel that does for that side of politics what Rand does for the right. I think the book needs to do two things: justify the welfare state and argue the limitations of the invisible hand. While I can think of lots of non-fiction texts, I am drawing blank on fictional offerings.

Do you or your readers have any suggestions? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Cowen mentions Grapes of Wrath. I’d nominate Catch 22 and The Great Gatsby, although neither of them quite fit the definition supplied.

Maybe Atlas Shrugged is a bit of an outlier. Outside of Rand’s work you can’t point to any other ‘ultimate right-wing novel’ either.

I think the best pieces of political propaganda I’ve ever seen are the Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister shows. They demonise the idea of centralised government and a professional civil service and consistently make the argument for public-choice theory with such wit and sophistication you never know you’re being manipulated.


January 25, 2011

On the cultural significance of Jersey Shore

Filed under: tv — danylmc @ 1:38 pm

‘One minute you got three girls in the Jacuzzi, the next minute someone’s in jail and you gotta bail them out.’ – Mike ‘The Situation’ Sarrentino.

I watched the first season of MTV’s hit reality TV show Jersey Shore this weekend, digesting all nine episodes – each clocking in at about forty minutes – over about twelve hours.  I was repulsed but fascinated, and I’ve spent a lot of time since trying to understand why a show in which drunken, orange skinned imbeciles repeatedly mate and/or fight with one another is such compelling viewing.

A lot of critics feel that Jersey Shore is the most horrible TV show of all time, and they have a strong case. But it’s also wildly popular, and as this column in the Wall Street Journal shows, many cultural commentators think there might be a deeper significance beneath the fake tans and endless tequila shots.

And there is, there really is. After some thought I’ve decided that Jersey Shore addresses the same theme as Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom (I really do think this). Both works convey the message that humans are social animals reliant on each other for one another’s happiness, and the current cultural fixation on individual freedom as an unqualified good leads to general misery and alienation.

I was gonna try to uppercut her, but at that point I had too many bouncers wrapped around me. I just wish for like three more seconds. I woulda done justice. – J-WOWW

The premise of Jersey Shore is that eight young, attractive (by the seriously warped standards of the show) people get to live in a house together at a wild beach resort and party all night every night. They’re free to do whatever they want, and for the show’s target audience this scenario represents heaven – but just as Franzen shows in Freedom, when everyone in a society is focused purely on indulging their own pleasures the results are not happiness, but rather frustration and anger and emotional breakdown, all of which is the norm on the Jersey Shore. It helps that the cast are so selfish and stupid and perpetually drunk they’re incapable of showing anyone else even the slightest courtesy. There’s never any room for debate or compromise – even the most minor disagreement instantly explodes into verbal or physical violence – and whenever they attack each other they’re inevitably screaming ‘I’m just trying to have fun.’

The ‘breakout’ stars of the show, who’ve gone on to achieve super-celebrity status are: Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino, Nicole, ‘Snooki’ Polizzi and Paul ‘DJ Pauly D’ DelVecchio. The Situation and DJ Pauly D provide much of the comic relief. Every night they go out looking for babes to lure back to their hot tub – a rooftop jacuzzi teeming with venereal disease – to engage in some casual, consequence free-sex. Every night they meet some girls and bring them home, and every night things go horribly wrong, because even the skanks that would sleep with Pauly and the Sitch are people with their own lives and agendas, instead of the disposable sex objects the guys are looking for. So when Pauly D makes out with an Israeli girl she falls in love with him and stalks him for the rest of the season, ruining most of his subsequent dates. The Situation brings a girl back to his bed but he’s woken up by her friend banging on the front door, screaming that the girl’s family are frantically searching for her because she’s been missing for hours. For a show about alcohol fuelled orgies and casual sex, Jersey Shore is surprisingly conservative in tone, always showing the dire consequences of every thoughtless, drunken impulse.

Then there’s Snooki, a tiny woman with huge eyes, enormous breasts, a chocolate colored tan and a penchant for wearing lingerie in public. Snooki is desperate to meet the right guy and settle down, and the best way to find Mr Right, she reasons, is to spend every night drunkenly making out with random, heavily tattooed muscle-bound gorillas (she calls this technique ‘snooking for love’). This is not a successful approach to finding true romance and Snooki is genuinely heartbroken whenever it fails, which is every single night.

‘If I was just gonna get sloppy, I should have just pounded out what’s her name on Friday night.’ – Ronnie

A relationship forms between two cast members (Ronnie and Sammy) and they appear to have genuine feelings for each other. But since their lives are all about instant self-gratification, the second they’re apart they instantly start hitting on the nearest strangers (in one episode this happened literally one second after Ronnie went to the bathroom at a club. The show’s editors thoughtfully pause the footage so we can see that Ronnie was still in frame when Sammi gave her phone number to an off-duty cop). Since they actually care about each other this breaks the other person’s heart, and they always end every evening back home yelling at each other and crying, only to go and do the exact same thing the next night.

Instead of being a laid back libertine’s paradise the Jersey Shore house is an unhappy, tense environment prone to savage conflicts and sudden outbursts of  violence. By the eighth episode the show needs to hire security guards to protect the cast members from one another.

‘I regret that I got caught. I don’t regret that I hit the kid, because he had it coming.’ – Ronnie.

The easiest way to defend Jersey Shore is to argue that it holds a mirror up to America. Consider how all of the cast members regard themselves as the most awesome people on the planet, the guys especially, on account of how deeply tanned and muscular they are. They treat everyone they meet with utter contempt but if anyone shows them the slightest disrespect they fly into a psychotic rage. The girls hurl fat jokes at almost every female to enter the house, but when someone teases Snooki about her weight she’s plunged into a suicidal depression. ‘There’s some things you never say to a girl,’ she sobs, even though she herself has said the same thing or worse many many times. There’s your rogue super-power writ very small.

The treatment of religion – while subtle – is also revealing. All of them are superficially Catholic – they wear crosses, they say grace before dinner. But they’re all creatures of base, carnal appetites without a flicker of morality. When DJ Pauly D’s Israeli stalker tells him they have to get married before they can have sex his expression is one of stupefied disgust, even though this is a central tenet of his faith and he has a gigantic crucifix tattooed on his back. For Pauly D Christianity is just another form of tribal identity; it has nothing to do with the way you treat others or live your life, and if that isn’t a metaphor for religion in contemporary America then what is?

‘Like when I left Karma, I didn’t even know what was going on in my head, like I’m gonna fucking knock a bitch up.’ – Sammi.

There’s yet another level to Jersey Shore, best approached by describing the basic format of the show. Every day is the same: the cast wake up with hangovers, confront one another with the monstrous crimes they committed during the night and then scream and cry for a while. They devote the rest of the daylight hours to ‘GTL’. Gym. Tanning. Laundry. Night falls, they hit the cocktails and once they’re all blind drunk they stumble off to the clubs to hook up. Their favourite hangout is a place called Karma where they drunkenly grope strangers, get their phone numbers and make out with them, but just as frequently they storm out of the club in a rage, or they get thrown out, or they get into a fist-fight. The people they lure back to their house for sex are just as likely to attack one of the other cast members, or throw up everywhere and pass out as they are to engage in intercourse.

The parallels with Buddhist theology are obvious. The cast of Jersey Shore are bound to the wheel of suffering and rebirth by their base physical desires. Each day Snooki, The Situation, DJ Pauly D and the rest of the cast chase the fleeting pleasures of the material world, and at the end of it they are punished and rewarded by Karma but no matter the outcome they are doomed to endlessly repeat the same mistakes. In his famous Fire Sermon the Buddha likens our lives in the physical universe to a vast and terrible bonfire being consumed by the flames of time; Jersey Shore makes the same point by showing us poor, lonely Snooki drunkenly cart wheeling around nightclubs while wearing a short skirt and no underwear. The medium is different but the eternal message is the same.

October 20, 2010

Links of the day, some people have WAY too much time on their hands edition

Filed under: books,tv — danylmc @ 11:52 am

On the economics of Seinfeld:

In this episode, Kramer is donating blood and saving it in a blood bank for future use. He becomes dissatisfied with high fees at the blood bank, and decides to keep it at home instead. In the meantime, Jerry nicks his jugular with an Exacto knife and needs blood. He awakens in the hospital with three pints of Kramer’s blood in him. This illustrates that when savers save, their assets don’t sit idle; they are immediately channeled to some productive investment most often by the banking system or another intermediary (such as the blood bank in this example), but sometimes through direct transfer (such is the case with direct purchase of stocks and bonds, and in this example, the direct transfer of Kramer’s blood to Jerry).

On why didn’t the eagles fly Sam and Frodo to Mordor?

We do know that Sauron is capable of some degree of control over Mt. Doom, since it is said to be at his bidding that the cloud of smoke and ash covers the sky. We do not know whether he would be able to cause Mt. Doom to erupt at a moment’s notice, without first building up pressure, etc.

Even if Sauron can cause Mt. Doom to erupt immediately, we know from the actual story that the eagles are capable of navigating into Mordor and locating and rescuing Frodo and Sam, despite the major eruption which was taking place. Even if Sauron did manage to catch the eagles in the eruption, however, could this melt the Ring? If Sauron does manage to figure out that the eagles are carrying the Ringbearer, he might opt not to cause Mt. Doom to erupt, just for this very reason.

 

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