Friday, December 20, 2013

I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR SO LONG: Saray with her latest recap, again without any instruments accompanying her:
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Tonight’s show opens on Movie Night with “Time of My Life” from Dirty Dancing. It’s very safe, with heteronormative duet couplings and a lot of basic a cappella backgrounds. Don’t worry, the sparkly dresses are back, this time on Vocal Rush. Jewel will be coaching the groups tonight, and Nick tells us that all of the groups will be going to Ultimate Sing-Offs tonight. (So then...what’s the point of having them sing in the first place?) They’ll do two eliminations tonight. Nick introduces the judges as “Ben – the brain, Jewel – the beauty, and Shawn – the vocal muscle.” I rage.

A PACKET OF STEVIA, A CYTRON CARD, A SCREWDRIVER, AND A Q-TIP:  Twelve memorable objects from the year in televison.
WE'RE NOT DOING THE BIT?  Jon Stewart surprised John Oliver last night with a farewell tribute, and it gets a bit dusty at the end.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

IF THE DEMOGRAPHIC SHOE FITS...  Joe Adalian's breakdown of the year in Nielsen ratings has a lot of valuable insight, and this paragraph in particular seems to cover a lot of this blog's favorite tv programming:
ABC's Modern Family had the most affluent audience of any broadcast show in 2013, with its viewers boasting a median income of $82,400. The show with the lowest median income? The CW's short-lived game show Oh Sit! Still, wealthy-ish folks make bad viewing choices, too: After Modern Family, the TV show with the second richest audience profile was NBC's Smash, whose audience boasted a median income of $81,100. Other shows whose viewers had a median income over $75,000 (in descending order of wealth): The Amazing Race, Fringe, The Bachelorette, The Good Wife, Happy Endings, The Office, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, 60 Minutes, Don't Trust the B--- in Apt. 23, and Suburgatory. As for lower income shows, the series with audiences making do with median incomes of $45,000 or lower (in addition to Oh Sit!): American Dad, Cops, Perfect Score, and The Cleveland Show.
HAVE YOURSELF A DERPY LITTLE CHRISTMAS:  TNR's Michael Schaffer, on "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer":
There’s this little reindeer with a deformity. We have no evidence that this deformity actually keeps him from his reindeer duties: He has a red, glowing nose. Big deal! It’s not like he has a torn ACL that might limit his flying-sleigh-pulling abilities. At any rate, because of this deformity, the other reindeer laugh, call him names, and bar him from their all-important games, effectively ostracizing him just because he looks funny.... Despite the repeated snubs and the impolite request, Rudolph demonstrates his utility in brilliant form. At which point all the reindeer decide that they love him. Notice that they still don’t apologize. 
Perhaps I am wrong, but this strikes me as a terrible, terrible lesson for kids. At the very basic level, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” presents a fairly grim, Hobbesian vision of society: If you want to be accepted, you have to prove your economic utility—which, in the case of magical flying reindeer, appears to only involve the annual sleigh-pull. 
WHY CAN'T YOU JUST LET ME BE? More from Saray:
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Last night's episode of The Sing-Off gave us movie themes (I didn't check, but we're assuming all of these songs are Sony songs or NBC Universal movies, right? Because if not, that would be a missed opportunity by the NBC execs.) They announced at the top of the show that all six groups remaining would compete in the Ultimate Sing-Off, which basically just meant "hey let's let these two groups sing together and come up with an excuse." That was okay, though, as it gave us two phenomenal group mashups, and also an additional only ok mashup with VoicePlay and the acoUstiKats.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

AND THEY'VE NEVER HEARD OF LOVE:  Today marks thirteen years since Kirsty MacColl was taken from us in a tragic accident. Here's "In These Shoes?" and "They Don't Know".
MOTHER, MAY I SLEEP IN AND NOT WATCH THE TODAY SHOW?  Lifetime is hard at work on a TV movie based on Top of The Morning, Brian Stelter's portrait of the most recent battles in the morning show wars, and I'm sure you can come up with some solid (and Lifetime-appropriate) casting choices for major players like Ann Curry, Matt Lauer, and Robin Roberts.
AND ALL THAT JAZZ: In what may be a first, Bebe Neuwirth is returning to the Broadway revival of Chicago, for which she won a Tony as Velma in 1996 and played Roxie in 2007--this time as Mama Morton.  Pretty sure this marks the first time a single actress has played all the major female roles in a show on Broadway (and certainly in the same production).
SHIVER:  Nirvana's MTV Unplugged in New York City first aired twenty years ago this week. For The Atlantic, Andrew Wallace Chamings writes:
For the final line, “I would shiver the whole night through,” Cobain jumps up an octave, forcing him to strain so far he screams and cracks. He hits the word “shiver” so hard that the band stops, as if a fight broke out at a sitcom wedding. Next he howls the word “whole” and then does something very strange in the brief silence that follows, something that’s hard to describe: He opens his piercingly blue eyes so suddenly it feels like someone or something else is looking out under the bleached lank fringe, with a strange clarity. Then he finishes the song. When Neil Young first watched the performance, he described that final note of Cobain’s as “Unearthly, like a werewolf, unbelievable.”

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

WHOSE GENERATION? Saray is back with some more thoughts on Night 4 of The Sing Off.
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It’s the fourth night of our holiday edition of The Sing Off.  We open with “Talkin’ Bout My Generation” for the group number.  Does anyone want to guess which group is dressed in sparkly short body-con dresses?  No?  Only me throwing shoes at the television?  OK.  The groups transition into “We Will Rock You” and then to...Imagine Dragons “It’s Time,” which is when I officially declared confusion on this medley.
BE MY FRIEND, HOLD ME AND WRAP ME UP: The story behind Six Feet Under's final montage.
I CAN GO FOR THAT (YES CAN DO):  For 2014, the Non-Country Popular Music of the 1950s and Beyond Hall of Fame will induct Nirvana, Kiss, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, Cat Stevens and Linda Ronstadt.

In addition, the heart-stopping, fun-loving, earth-quaking, love-making, record-breaking, air-conditioner-shaking, Viagra-taking, history-making, legendary E Street Band will be given the "Award for Musical Excellence" (the former "sidemen" category, where Leon Russell and Glyn Johns were recently recognized), and Beatles manager Brian Epstein and original Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham are being enshrined as non-performers.

[Based on our votes, there may be some disappointment about N.W.A., The Replacements, and Yes missing out.]

Monday, December 16, 2013

ONLY THING TO DO IS JUMP OVER THE MOON: That Connecticut high school which canceled a planned production of Rent has reversed course after massive pressure from the student body, the local community, and Rentheads like you.
PARTNERS FOR LIFE: The first film, unexpectedly, was much better than it needed to be, so what are the odds on 22 Jump Street delivering?
THE SADDEST FACT I'VE LEARNED IS NOBODY MATTERS LESS TO OUR SOCIETY THAN YOUNG BLACK WOMEN. NOBODY: Our old friend Jim DeRogatis did a lengthy and much-buzzed-about interview with the Village Voice today in which he reminds us that when you think of R. Kelly, you should think of one thing first and foremost (warning: link contains potential triggers):
YOU'RE NOTHING UNTIL THE THRILL OF THE KILL BECOMES YOUR ONLY LAW: There may not be a lot to say about this season of Survivor, but now that it's over, let's say it:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

MAKE A FACE: Given that I guess they didn't feel like awarding it to a deserving LeBron James for a second straight year, Sports Illustrated has named the also-unquestionably-worthy Peyton Manning its Sportsman of the Year.

added: Dave Zirin calls it "a resoundingly establishment choice that serves to obscure the rumbling resistance to the status quo throughout the sports world," suggesting Britney Griner, Robbie Rogers, the Grambling football team, Serena Williams, or everyone in Boston as worthier alternatives.