"Chinese TV extra Shi Zhongpeng, 26… appeared as a member of the Japanese forces more than 200 times last year, the Qianjiang Evening News reported, sometimes dying on set eight times in a single day."
In the nights before the promised Mayan Apocalypse, mysterious configurations of bright lights hovered over Brooklyn and San Francisco's Mission District. The first commenter here made the reasonable assumption that it was all some kind of viral marketing aimed at overpaid young urbanites.
But the product of such clever, vague and expensive advertising has yet to appear. And the silent, terrifying craft are now being seen over far less desirable urban areas including Detroit, Indianapolis and the Gulf Coast of Florida. What could it mean? Is Detroit poised for a comeback? And why are they also appearing in Poughkeepsie?
Myriad outrageous things occurred during the two seasons of "Twin Peaks" that aired on ABC in the early 1990s. A fish somehow got stuck in a coffee percolator, a sheriff's deputy knocked himself silly by stepping on a loose board, Sherilyn Fenn tied a cherry stem into a knot with her tongue. Verbal tics and regional dialects and odd vocal registers predominated. Dwarfs and doppelgangers spoke backwards. David Duchovny showed up wearing a dress. Many of these things came off as humorous, and each episode provided at least five or six chuckle-worthy moments—which, as offsets go, is only fair, considering that the David Lynch and Mark [...]
The best time to get involved in a conspiracy theory is in media res. A really good conspiracy needs years to pile up the evil plans and secret knowledge into a baroque edifice worth caring about. At its beginning, it's just a bunch of people with some sinister ideas, and where's the fun in that?
So I think I got really enthusiastic about "The X-Files" and its ongoing storyline of a human-alien conspiracy precisely because I came into it in the middle. I had seen an episode or two of the first few seasons, enough to get the general gist of the show; but it was only after I moved [...]
Sarah Marshall: I'm not especially proud of any of the hobbies I used to waste my free time, but perhaps the most inexplicable is my fondness for watching compilations of old TV themes on YouTube. As a general rule, I love all sludgy runoff of pop culture past and present, and the themes to failed 80s TV shows provide its most potent concentration: the montages, the glittery synth music, the streetwise detectives running on the beach in tiny shorts. I vacillate between feeling ashamed of how many no-name actors I routinely recognize, and feeling that I'm spending my leisure time in exactly the right way.
Michael Magnes: It's oddly thrilling [...]
Is "Homeland" "Buffy"? Spoilers and theories.
Even if you've only seen a trailer for Skyfall, the new and very good James Bond movie, you know Javier Bardem is the villain. Instantly. It's his haircut: a meringue of floppy blond mullet, as if the hairstyles of Michael Bolton and Nicolas Cage had crept off, spent a night of torrid passion together, and this bleached muskrat was the result of their union. The style doesn't suit Bardem's face or the setting, and no self-respecting man would ever consider wearing his hair in such a fashion (nor would any Hollywood stylist allow it)—that is, unless he was evil. Pure, unadulterated, villainous evil.
It seems that possession of a terrible [...]
An obsession in five acts.
I. You're about nine, and you always watch tv with your dad. It's your thing—he's usually nursing a Coors Light, you're doing your best to hang upside down on the couch until your head starts pounding. Sometimes you watch golf and fall in love with Payne Stewart; sometimes you watch "MacGyver" and wish your dad had his hair. But then you start watching "Star Trek: The Next Generation" at 5 p.m. on a Saturday, because obviously that is when the best show on television should be scheduled, and your routine becomes: 1.) watch "TNG" together 2.) Mom and Dad go out to some dinner [...]
Carrie Frye: Jane, so I was lazing around Saturday morning when I saw a series of ecstatic tweets from you about the amazingness of "House Of Cards." Up till then I'd only been paying dim attention to the show's release (basically, I knew it was a series released on Netflix about Washington politics that, disappointingly, did not seem to feature any secret vampires), but on your word, I tried an episode at lunch. And then, next thing I knew, "Portlandia" Battleship Galactica marathon style, it was dusk… and then it was 10 p.m. and I had no circulation left in my legs.
I'm now on episode 7 and view [...]
"Welcome to the O.C., bitch." —Luke, "The O.C.," Season 1, Episode 1
Sometimes disorder introduces itself into long-standing order. Such is the plot of almost everything compelling: "Downton Abbey," the evolution of the norovirus, "The Nanny," bedbugs, "Jurassic Park," civil rights, the lineup changes of Foreigner, infidelity. So goes, also, the story of Ryan Atwood, who storms Newport's gated communities with little more than a hoodie, a wrist cuff, a pack of Marlboros and his trademark Chino flair in the pilot episode of "The O.C."
This essay is part of a series about our favorite TV shows past.
"Fringe," the only prime time SF show to make it through a fairly natural lifespan without becoming a disaster, concludes tonight. I did not want to love "Fringe," but it happened anyway. From its beginnings as cheerful but fresh Mulder and Scully redux to its rampaging full-on SF freakout middle period to its dark dystopian final season, "Fringe" avoided the varied and terrible pitfalls of often-great shows like "Lost," "X-Files," "Dollhouse," "V," "Firefly," "Heroes" and "Battlestar Galactica," all of which were either tortured by networks or tortured by showrunners. Or both.
(Sure, on the "natural lifespan" thing: I mean, yes, it is slightly awkward that the show concluded at [...]
How "Baby It's Cold Outside" Became America's Secular Christmas Anthem, Despite People Claiming It's About Date Rape
Betty Garrett and Red Skelton, reversing roles in the song's 1948 Hollywood premiere.
This Christmastime, last Christmastime and for many holiday seasons past, writers and commenters of the Internet have gathered to argue over the holiday classic "Baby It's Cold Outside." The conversations and accusations are rarely about the song's merits as a Tin Pan Alley jazz-pop composition. Instead, we wonder if the playful exchange of the man and woman is actually the loaded conversation before a sinister date rape. Or is the whole song just a harmless relic of a bygone time when "The answer is No" meant not "No," but "maybe just a half a drink more," [...]
I recently saw a headline over at The New York Times about "Oprah at a Crossroads." I didn't read the article because I didn't want to use up any of my free NYT web-clicks on it, but it looks like the article is about how Oprah's O magazine is starting to suck wind because it has less ads, which happened because Oprah doesn't have a show on regular teevee any more, I bet.
See, Oprah decided to go on cable televison with her "OWN," which is the Oprah Winfrey Network, and so she shut down her regular TV show on original regular television. As a close and careful [...]
Shut in? Cooped up? In for the long haul? Well start enjoying the TV while you still have power! Let's indulge together. UPDATED!
• The entire Brideshead Revisited. It is ELEVEN EPISODES LONG and it is so fantastic. Really, just so enjoyable. There's two whole episodes that take place on a pitching ocean liner! And the best gay sidekick in history.
• "Alias" season one. Did you somehow not watch "Alias," as I did not? Well finally, FINALLY, they released the early seasons to the wild. Everyone's telling me to stop halfway through season 2 but of course I will not. I will abandon the show on MY terms. Spoiler: [...]
If you enjoyed the usual American male weekend of constant television viewing while sunk deep in the pizza-crush folds of your sofa, evolution has already decided it doesn't want your kind in the generations to come. That's why low-activity men who watch lots of television have dramatically lower sperm counts than those who get some exercise.
The subjects of the study were college-aged men in New York state, aged 18-22. The first group did 15 hours of "moderate to vigorous physical activity per week," about 2 hours daily. The second group just slobbed out in front of the flat screen for 20 or more hours weekly. Besides being incredibly [...]
16. Liz: She'll be like, "Whaaat?" (41:48)
15. Jack: Wait, you're Sam? (42:16)
14. Grizz: Wait, you're Sam? Don't even say it. (41:26)
13. Kenneth: So the whole show just takes place here at 30 Rockefeller Plaza—is that right, Ms. Lemon? [Yes sir...] I know, and I love it. (42:28)
12. Dot Com: Tracy is exactly where you think he is, Liz. It's the closest thing he has to hiding out in a church. (30:50)
Fort Courage, Kansas. Civil War hero Captain Wilton Parmenter is in command, protecting the Fort, and the neighboring town of the same name, from a tribe of Indians in the area, led by Chief Wild Eagle. With Sergeant O'Rourke and Corporal Agarn rounding out his staff, Captain Parmenter navigates Fort Courage through the dangerous waters of the expansionist latter half of the 19th Century.
Plus also: wackiness.
This is the synopsis of a situation comedy, circa 1965. Not an emphatically successful one, but "F Troop" was still a pristine specimen of what I grew up thinking was the Platonic ideal of sitcoms.
• Last night's Charity Wine Auction: Two guests kidnapped from elevator as they're leaving the party.
• Liberty Project benefit dinner: Wife of a Supreme Court nominee reveals to assembled guests that her husband beats her, is crooked judge.
• Thanksgiving dinner: Victoria discloses to guests that at age 15 she was forced to shoot a man and take the blame for his death.
• Second wedding to Conrad: Groom toted off by police during the reception.
The 1990s came back last night during the Hurricane Sandy benefit concert, and everybody was so happy to hear about "grunge" again. What else is from the 1990s? How about the 1991 Gulf War? It seemed stupid at the time, but in retrospect it was kind of nice to have a very short American war in the Middle East, and also to win that war. Now a living memory (in the form of an inanimate piece of weaponry) is back in the news, bombing people in Syria. It's hard not to wonder if the return of the Scud missile will also mark the return of the [...]
1. Elizabeth Taylor as Helen Burns in the 1943 version of Jane Eyre.
The movie, which had Orson Wells as Mr. Rochester and Joan Fontaine as Jane Eyre, was made when Taylor was 11. It was filmed right before National Velvet made her famous. Just a year before, a casting director at another studio had complained, "Her eyes are too old, she doesn't have the face of a child." About this role, a biographer writes: "So tiny was her part, as one of the classmates of young Jane (Peggy Ann Garner), that she got no billing on the credits; and years later when she wanted her own [...]