I have now passed the half-way mark on my least productive year in a decade. Even when I was practically homeless and actually starving a ways back, I was producing more work than I have this year. I know what the problem is.
Regis Francis Xavier Philbin, elfin television presenter and former sidekick of Rat Packer Joey Bishop, exited the closed set of our world on July 24th at the tender age of 88. Regis was unique in that he was genuinely beloved by a broad range of people, and was an ebullient, welcome presence on the small screen for literally decades.
I am now in the unique position of confessing that in 1996, I secretly attempted to form a cult around him.
I would like to take this opportunity to shoulder a bit of the blame hurled around in the current Battle of the Generations. Whatever my assigned generational designation might be (“X”), I know for certain one egregious sin that we all committed willfully, en masse.
I’m old enough to remember when Bill Maher was a stand-up comedian; i.e., a person who stands behind a microphone and makes people laugh. I have vague memories of Kathy Griffin doing the same thing. As far as I can determine now, Maher and Griffin just make people mad, by saying or doing something deliberately inappropriate, and then flaying open their breast in apology, crocodile tears a-flow.
Then they go back to being unfunny. Because funny ain’t what pays their bills.
More integrity and realism than anything Maher has done since.
I’m also old enough to recall when Maher’s show Politically Incorrect lived up to its name, instead of being a vehicle for trendy virtue-signals. My pal Jim Goad once made an appearance. It was far more fringy and loose. Now it’s a reductive caricature, a safe forum for “differing viewpoints” (vetted by the network/sponsors). It’s a funnier joke as it is than anything that ever came out of Bill Maher’s mouth.
Do you know what a “cold open” is? Sure you do. Every current sitcom you watch uses it. It’s when the show just begins, no fanfare, no opening titles. Right into the action, because the producers know you’ll change the channel if you have to sit through 30 seconds of the same music every week.
Congrats! You’ve done exactly what was expected of you, and nothing more.
“Cold opens” are like “cold sores”. They spread easily. Saturday Night Live has done cold opens since before you were born. You’re used to it in sitcoms. Hell, you were getting tired of the “typical sitcom theme”, anyway.
The first brand feud I can remember is Atari vs. Intellivision.
Note Major League Baseball endorsement. And misspelling of product name in quote. Superior, my Aunt Fanny.
Some kids had an Atari 2600 game console; some kids had an Intellivision. (Some kids had an Odyssey 2 or a Vectrex, but not for very long.) Atari kids hated Intellivision kids, and vice versa. The TV commercials for both brands stoked this hatred; George Plimpton appeared in an ad for Intellivision, which he explained meant “Intelligent Television”. Ergo, kids who played Atari were stupid.Continue reading →
Gather ’round, children. Don’t you wonder why we live in the cold and poisoned world that we do? Looking back, around a decade ago, everything got too salty.
We used to come home from work and watch TV, enjoying longtime creature comforts. Television shows were devoted to entertaining us, with characters we could identify with. That’s how it was in the 1990s.
The troubles began with Friends.
Future historians will note this couch as the Beginning Of The End.