Re: Distinctly Copshow

1

I suppose most Americans' aural experience of an ostensibly Mancunian accent consists of Daphne off of Frasier, who sounds nothing like a real Mancunian.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 7:43 AM
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Well, yeah, I've got no basis for evaluating the authenticity here.

I just like accents generally, and it's a pleasure spending an hour listening to one that's new to me. And particularly one that's comprehensible on first hearing. (Some slang words that were new -- it took me three or for times to figure out that 'plonk' meant 'woman'. Given that I'd only ever heard it as meaning 'cheap wine' before, that was puzzling.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 7:48 AM
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Our feelings are hurt. You listen to those guys even though it is basically the first thing anyone here suggests to someone looking for a new tv show to watch. Hmph!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 7:50 AM
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Has it been mentioned here and I missed it? Come to think of it, I suppose I was aware of it before Ari's post, and probably from comments here -- Ari's post just hit when I was looking for something to put in the Netflix queue. I really am loving it, though, so thanks for the recommendation.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 7:52 AM
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The U.S. used to make cop shows with funny-looking actors. Columbo was very good.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 7:53 AM
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Annie sounds like my grandmother. Well, Nana's accent was burred up with more Irish, but. (She was semi-orphan* shuttled back and forth between Wigan and Clare.)

*No, really. Father died in a mine collapse when she was 3. Mother promptly entered convent.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 7:53 AM
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Simms, the guy who plays Tyler, actually has an eerie resemblance to a British journalist friend of ours. Half of the first episode was devoted to exclaiming over it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 7:55 AM
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re: 1

The irony of course being that actor who plays Frasier's dad really is Mancunian.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 7:55 AM
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Actually, now that I think about it, I'm talking bollocks. I imagine tons of Americans have seen Eccleston's Doctor Who, and he's from Salford. And although Oasis never really broke America, they're not unknown either.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 7:56 AM
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You'd think he could have given her some tips.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 7:56 AM
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9: Lots of planets have a north.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 7:57 AM
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And although Oasis never really broke America, they're not unknown either.

I've always told people they were related to the guy who smashed watermelons on stage.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 7:58 AM
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re: 10

I read somewhere that they claimed he did, but who knows. If he did, he's not much of an accent-coach.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 7:58 AM
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7: Can I have his number? Also, this means you should watch State of Play, but hey -- I'll let Ari tell you!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 7:59 AM
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State of Play is excellent, yeah. I saw the recent film remake which suffers by comparison.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:02 AM
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14: He's on the market, as far as I know. Wrong body type -- my guy is a big looming person, rather than only medium-tall and whippetlike like Simms -- but the facial expressions are spot on.

And I'll give State of Play a shot next.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:03 AM
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Lots of planets have a north.
And on none of them does it rain as much as in Manchester.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:04 AM
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16: Well, I was just kidding! But my mother and I have a jokey "no-he's-my-boyfriend!" fight over John Simm.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:06 AM
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KOPITES ARE GOBSHITES


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:08 AM
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18: Actually, of the two main characters, I'm finding Gleinster more appealing. I think this reveals some kind of character flaw in me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:10 AM
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Manchester owes its existence to its appalling weather. Kind of.

Manchester's damp climate and numerous waterways made it the perfect town for the production of cotton, which began in the 16th Century. Obviously there was a town of sorts there before (with a fabric industry), but it was the cotton that led to the city of 3 million, and the cotton industry flourished there because it never stops bleeding raining. Keeps the threads from dryin' out and breakin', tha knows.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:13 AM
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If you like Glenister, there's more of him after Life on Mars finishes, in Ashes to Ashes.

And he gets probably the most popular line in this year's M&S Christmas advert. Although apparently there are complaints that it's sexist.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:22 AM
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Gah - I didn't MEAN to fuck up that link. Here it is, unhtmled, copy it yourselves, that'll be safer today:
http://marksandspencer.tv/player.aspx?bcpid=1733261711&bclid=49480633001&bctid=48735674001


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:23 AM
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re: 20

Nah, that was the British response, too. There's been a spin-off series with the Glenister character, set in the early 80s [with a different female co-protagonist].

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gf9lFYcBO7E

Glenister was in one of Paul Abbot's best works:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clocking_Off

Which has a truly stellar cast. He was also, playing a _very_ different role, in the BBC's recent adaptation of Mrs Gaskell's Cranford


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:24 AM
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Argh, pwnéd.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:26 AM
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The accents (and the language in general) in The Royale Family are to die for.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:29 AM
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You get points for being more informative though!


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:29 AM
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Royale


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:29 AM
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24: Gleinster is really great in Cranford.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:32 AM
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21: which means, according to Brad DeLong, that if the climate of Manchester had been a bit drier, then the whole course of modern history would have been altered. No damp Mancunian climate, no Manchester cotton mills, no immiserated mill workers with declining wages in the 1840s, no Marx assuming the inevitable crisis of capitalism, no revolutionary socialism?

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2009/04/page/2/


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:38 AM
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29 goes for cheese-based desserts as well.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:45 AM
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30: it would have still been a "shock city" cuzza everybody being naked.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:46 AM
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Brad DeLong is not a bad guy, but his anti-Marxism, based on the assumption that Stalinism and its bastard offspring was the only current thereof that was ever influential, is pathological and crazy.

I can't be doing with crude Popperism any more than I can with crude Diamat.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:47 AM
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State of Play was superb.

Interview with John Simm, 2007

"Simm now seems more content with his status as a predominantly television actor."

I was thinking the other the about different styles or capabilities of actors, in remembering Edward Woodward and his career. Woodward was a television actor.

Movie acting is about underplaying and projection, that ability to create full empathy in the audience without the audience quite understanding how it is done. This can be extremely intense on a 70 foot screen, and most of us want only smaller doses of that experience.

TV actors turn their inability to project into an asset. So close to that screen, with so many closeups, week after week in our homes, we want obvious and familiar signals for emotional content, but not exaggerated, as in stage. The key for a TV actor is a comforting sentimentality of small gestures of character, even a predictability in plot and reactions.

Stage acting is again another unique style.

I have also this week been wondering why TV has so often repelled me. I just have a very low tolerance for sentimentality, which is my problem, and not a judgement of others. I recognize that recoiling in horror from "Love Is" panels is a deficiency, and not an achievement.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:50 AM
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33:Good people can become captivated by truly wicked ideologies, and perhaps even remain generally good, while contributing to very bad outcomes.

Perhaps DeLong might even agree with that.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:58 AM
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The key for a TV actor is a comforting sentimentality of small gestures of character, even a predictability in plot and reactions.

But at its best, this conveys a human realism to large and outsize characters, showing how even overwhelming personalities are rooted in the mundane like the rest of us. E.g. What James Gandolfini did with Tony Soprano.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:07 AM
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I recognize that recoiling in horror from "Love Is" panels is a deficiency

Wait, these things? These things suck, bob. Recoil away.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:13 AM
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Bob's more of a "Pluggers" guy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:14 AM
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If you want recoiling in horror from Love Is... panels, you can't top this


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:17 AM
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37: When did those kids start wearing pants?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:18 AM
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I recognize that recoiling in horror from "Love Is" panels is a deficiency, and not an achievement.

How do you feel about Love, American Style?

I haven't watched the British Life on Mars yet, but it's in my Netflix queue. I loved the American version, though, except for the concluding episode.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:21 AM
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The girl is still porky piggin' it. (don't tell me that's a dress...it's a tunic at best)


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:21 AM
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I recognize that recoiling in horror from "Love Is" panels is a deficiency, and not an achievement.

Not true! "Love Is" is not only aesthetically appalling but also a tool of teh patriarchy. Most of the ones I've seen come down to "Love Is...Preserving Gender Roles." Blarg.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:21 AM
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44

So very, very pwned.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:22 AM
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Something that I'm really wondering about my reaction to the show is whether I'm cutting it slack for being British. The dreamy/nightmarish way the time travel stuff is handled seems very effective to me, but I can't imagine an American show doing anything similar without coming off as wildly cheesy. I don't know if I have different standards because I assume that British TV is just innately better than ours, or if I'm just guessing correctly that an American show would fuck it up.

I suppose I could watch the American version, and see if they handle it the same way and if it sucks.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:24 AM
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I assume that British TV is just innately better than ours

Wrong, I think: a lot of US TV is good. But they do do different things well, though, I think.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:37 AM
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46: Part of it is the selection effect -- British TV that I end up seeing is the good stuff, of course.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:42 AM
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46: Oh, definitely. There are a lot of things that US TV does in its sleep that British TV is crap at. Special effects, historically. High production value contemporary drama, more recently. Daily talk shows. Anything (that's not a soap) for more than 6 episodes a year. Animated shows for adults.

On the other hand, British TV is generally great at comedy panel shows, satire and seriously dark comedy, period dramas, anything that requires nudity and swearing, kitchen sink dramas and news.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:44 AM
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47: I'm not sure if it is still the case now, but PBS used to be the best source for bad British TV.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:44 AM
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49: Even so, is "Are You Being Served" really worse than "Sanford and Son"?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:46 AM
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Special effects, historically.

Life on Mars, certainly. There's a dead body in an early episode that's the most obvious mannequin doused with ketchup I've ever seen. I'm good with that -- I'd rather symbolic than realistic gore -- but very low-budget looking.

(Exterior shots are largely stage-set looking as well. I assume that's budget too: it'd be very expensive to do a lot of parking period cars up and down a street and changing all the signs. But it works; it seems to accentuate the nightmarish quality of it all.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:48 AM
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I think Delong is a crude anti-marxist. Surely he's more appreciative of Marx than Popper was!


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:48 AM
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50: Maybe not. Actually, I always kind of liked the "Mrs. Buckett" show (I can't think of the name). I could see that it was stereotyped generic sitcom crap, but whoever played Mrs. Buckett was clearly very good at her job.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:50 AM
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48: pretty much. I don't think British TV's ever even tried doing an animated TV show for an adult audience - none come to mind.
Nor, for that matter, daily talk shows: they tend to be either news/magazine programmes like Newsnight (rather good) or weekly entertainment-type chat shows (Graham Norton etc). Are there any UK daily news/political chat shows?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:50 AM
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There's a dead body in an early episode that's the most obvious mannequin doused with ketchup I've ever seen. I'm good with that -- I'd rather symbolic than realistic gore

About the only place on TV or cinema you'll find realistic gore is in Paul Verhoeven films, and he always gets criticised for using exaggerated and unrealistic makeup effects. He isn't. That's actually what wounds look like.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:52 AM
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I'll often believe myself to be enjoying british TV shows more than I actually am.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:52 AM
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All right, I'd rather symbolic than believable gore, realistic or not. It doesn't take much to make me cringe and wince -- ketchup on a dummy is quite enough to make me accept "Right, this is a dead body for plot purposes," without making me look away from the screen.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:54 AM
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The dreamy/nightmarish way the time travel stuff is handled seems very effective to me, but I can't imagine an American show doing anything similar without coming off as wildly cheesy.

In the American version, the possibility that Sam might be merely dreaming or insane is always there, though other, more science-fictional explanations are suggested as well (and I felt, at least, given more weight). I think the American version suffers from a need to tie up all the loose threads, finally, and have everything explained at the end.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:55 AM
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I don't think British TV's ever even tried doing an animated TV show for an adult audience - none come to mind.

Oh, there are some. Monkey Dust, for instance. But they're few and far between, and generally nowhere near the quality of what you get in the US. I'm cheating slightly by excluding Aardman's output, because it's really family viewing and also is so infrequent these days.

Are there any UK daily news/political chat shows?

Not funny ones. We get Newsnight instead.

LB: British special effects have improved considerably since the likes of old school Doctor Who and Day of the Triffids, but even so, big budget British stuff like, well, new school Doctor Who still seems cheap and crappy in comparison with, say, Heroes. It's weird.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:55 AM
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56: You could spend a long time spelling out what 'believe' and 'actually' mean in that comment.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:55 AM
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46: In the Guardian recently someone was decrying British TV w/r/t American TV (specifically, shows like The Wire, Damages, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, The Sopranos). The comments were 6 different kinds of a meltdown: British folks being offended on behalf of Russell Davies, Americans insisting that only British tv was any good, other British people being offended on behalf of Coronation Street, etc.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:56 AM
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43:"Love Is" is not only aesthetically appalling but also a tool of teh patriarchy.

Of course, the "Love Is" was a bit of a joke, but I really see the sentimentality everywhere in TV. I think it is intrinsic to the media. For fun, let's define "sentimentality" as socially constructed emotion. TV is, almost without any exceptions, a tool for re-enforcing social constructions.

To the extent the different arts are working:

You feel with, and do the bad things with, Vito and Michael Corleone.

You feel for (or against) Tony Soprano (or Don Draper), and watch him do the bad things.

Most of the analysis I have seen of MM deals with what Don Draper should or should not do, should or should not be, depending on what social construction the commentator wants Don Draper to fit into. This is how we watch TV.

We don't presume to tell Michael Corleone what to do, or Coppola. Corleone will do what he must.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:57 AM
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59: oh, Newsnight used to be funny before they got rid of Evan Davies (for US readers, the former economics editor: a sort of spider crab in a suit, 28 feet of thrashing highly articulated skinny limb with a tiny, wildly grinning, jug-eared head in the middle somewhere)


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:00 AM
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I don't think British TV's ever even tried doing an animated TV show for an adult audience - none come to mind.

OTOH, the US never had anything like Spitting Image.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:01 AM
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Truffaut showed what TV was about back in Fahrenheit 451

"What do think should happen next, viewer?"

"Books make people unhappy, they make them anti-social. " ..only if they are read well.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:02 AM
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#64. Well, nothing very successful, anyway.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:03 AM
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60: no, seriously. I'll be watching, say, a comedy, and I'll laugh at it a lot and tell people it's great and get more episodes and then as I continue to watch I'll realize that the things I'm laughing at are not, in fact, funny, and then I'll stop laughing, and then when I go back and watch the earlier episodes I'll realize that those aren't really funny, either, and then I'll be confused. I blame Monty Python. I was conditioned almost from birth to believe that British accents necessarily meant hilariousness was about to ensue.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:04 AM
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Truffaut showed what TV was about back in Fahrenheit 451

Sorry about that Dollhouse cancellation, Bob. I actually thought of you when I heard the news.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:06 AM
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67: I don't think "funny" allows for correctable judgments like that. If you laughed the first time, it was funny the first time.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:07 AM
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That is incorrect.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:08 AM
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British TV is generally great at comedy panel shows

Didn't all the Brits here pan me when I linked approvingly to what was written off as some B-list panel show? Harumph.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:08 AM
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I was conditioned almost from birth to believe that British accents necessarily meant hilariousness was about to ensue.

This makes watching British news, particularly, difficult for me. I see a man in a suit with a British accent behind a desk talking about world affairs, I have a very hard time believing that it's serious.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:09 AM
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Didn't all the Brits here pan me when I linked approvingly to what was written off as some B-list panel show?

Well, that's the point. You find our B-list panel shows hilarious. Imagine how good our A-list panel shows are.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:16 AM
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72 is funny. I have an image of US audiences watching Gordon Brown raptly, thinking "cool. Any moment now, he's going to do the Silly Walk".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:18 AM
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74: It's exactly like that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:19 AM
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76

Funnily enough, that's also how Brits felt watching Bush.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:21 AM
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I loved Life on Mars for the way it takes the formula of Hottie Rebel Cop and turns it upside down in such an interesting way.

Also, I have the main guy crossed in my head with Simon Pegg so that when I try to remember Life on Mars I see Simon Pegg running around in it.

I have Ashes to Ashes but have yet to watch it because I never finished the second series of Life on Mars. One of these days I'm going to take a vacation just to catch up on TV.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:21 AM
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I have the same experience as Tweety. (And, if you think about it, this is kind of the principle laugh tracks work on. They basically trick people into laughing more than they would otherwise.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:26 AM
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76: But you were right -- watch him for long enough and he'd fall down or run into a Scottish police officer on his bike or get stuck going through a door or something.

77: Right, that the Maverick is being all Mavericky about not hitting suspects, treating female police officers as equals, and getting the appropriate paperwork done.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:27 AM
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79: "well, I won't deny that it was an adrenaline-fuelled thrill ride, but there's no way that you could perpetrate that amount of carnage and not incur a considerable amount of paperwork."

Right about Bush - he actually did do the equivalent of the Silly Walk.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:30 AM
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Speaking of Manchester shows, Shameless is a lot fun and at least one season is available on Netflix.

As an American, I found it instructive b/c its set in a housing project that actually looks pretty nice and nondangerous but is supposedly the pit of dire poverty and violence.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:33 AM
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Despite what one Tory said recently, we don't really have direct equivalents to Baltimore's projects, for example. Britain's endemic violence problem is related to drunkenness in city centres on the weekend, not gun crime. That's not to say that some estates aren't pretty damn grim.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:47 AM
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As I discovered in high school as a faithful viewer of Masterpiece Theatre, occasional nudity was part of what made British television superior. I don't recall much about the BBC serialization of Thérèse Raquin, but I do remember that it had Kate Nelligan in the full-frontal altogether. The serialization of Moll Flanders was similarly memorable. Yay, high culture!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:47 AM
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This makes watching British news, particularly, difficult for me. I see a man in a suit with a British accent behind a desk talking about world affairs, I have a very hard time believing that it's serious.

Especially after this happened.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:48 AM
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As an American, I found it instructive b/c its set in a housing project that actually looks pretty nice and nondangerous but is supposedly the pit of dire poverty and violence.

Check out the movie "Red Road". I was left with the impression that if you actually walk into a stranger's apartment for no reason in one of those hells on earth, something bad might happen to you, but probably not.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:49 AM
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I can't stand British TV. I don't know why. In principle, I ought to like it, but it always seems boring and fusty and indoors and I can only understand every other word people are saying. And I usually don't find the much-ballyhooed witty stuff to be very funny at all.

It's odd, because I like British actors here, once they get a Hollywood touch-up and are properly surrounded by good special effects and beautiful people.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:55 AM
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84: The criminal complaint says the officer at the scene was able to ID the drug because of "his prior experience as a police officer in drug arrests, observation of packaging which is characteristic of this type of drug, and defendant's statements that . . . 'I've got some meth in my pocket.' "

You know my methods, Watson - apply them.



Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:58 AM
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and beautiful people.

It's weird to me how much I like the lower level of beauty in British TV. British actors are still better looking, on average, than the people on the street, but they seem so much less uniformly spectacular than American actors, and so much more interesting to look at. I'm not sure why this seems like a big deal to me, but it does.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 11:01 AM
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The production values of British TV have come a long way, but in general the Brits lack the Hollywood infrastructure and financing to do a well-produced show over as many episodes as a US show, which is why the Brit shows are generally made in relatively short runs (except for really dirt-cheap shows like soaps). Easier for someone smart to get a show made, harder to keep it looking good and staying good over a long term.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 11:03 AM
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Also, w/r/t the quality of international entertainment products, it is important not to get misled by selection bias. The mean Hollywood product is way better than anything out of another country, including the UK, even if its easier to do something really interesting abroad (tho that's been changing for a while, and its getting easier for Hollywood to make smart TV shows. Rockford Files lost money, but Mad Men is a financial success.)


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 11:10 AM
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89: It's partly financial and partly cultural I think. Britain doesn't really have a tradition of doing TV with teams of writers, outside of soaps. And it's having a talented team that enables you to do mammoth runs of a comedy series, for example, even if the production costs aren't all that high. Now, of course, one of the reasons Britain doesn't have that culture is that there's no guaranteed market of 300m people to sell your show to withotu relying on syndication/global distribution, so people aren't willing to gamble a lot of money on a team of writers. So distinctively British shows that may not travel well tend to have lower production values and short runs. A lot of high production value dramas recently have been international co-productions - Rome, for example. You wouldn't really think of them as British shows.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 11:20 AM
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The mean Hollywood product is way better than anything out of another country, including the UK

There is no way of proving or disproving this, and the argument could go either way.
1) Hollywood has more money, and so spends more money per show on average, so the average show is better because it has a bigger budget
or
2) The UK has less money, so it makes fewer shows, and thus the standard of each show is higher, because the industry's much more selective about which shows get funded for production


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 11:22 AM
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Most of the analysis I have seen of MM deals with what Don Draper should or should not do, should or should not be, depending on what social construction the commentator wants Don Draper to fit into. This is how we watch TV.

I can't speak to the analysis that Bob has seen, but this specific example does not work for me. Draper is a giant puzzle, even to the audience, who gets to see more of him than any other character gets to see, and to the extent that I question him, I'm questioning why he's doing what he's doing. Part of the charm of the show is that what he should do by our standards isn't really what he should do in early 60s America -- what he should do is imperceptibly shifting, and it's confusing to everybody on screen.

As for his general point, Bob may have described how we watch certain kinds of TV, but I don't think it applies to the new type of super-expensive dramas like Mad Men, The Wire, etc.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 11:34 AM
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Take me back to Manchester
When it's raining
I want to wet me feet
In Albert Square
I'm all agog
For a good, thick fog
I don't like the sun
I like it raining cats and dogs
I want to smell the odors
Of the Irwell
I want to feel the soot get in me hair
Oh, I don't want to roam
I want to get back home
To rainy Manchester


Posted by: frogmorton5 | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 11:42 AM
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68:It was expected, and tho getting interesting this year, the show was pretty much losing me. Dushku just can't carry a series, and without a center, the show floundered emotionally.

Watched Serenity again the other night, and remembered that Nathan Filion has had a full string of failed series.

This isn't a knock on those people, who I like very much.
It does question the importance of writing, and maybe brings attention to the magic Gellar had at a particular period in her life. And the skills of people like Arquette, Hewitt, etc.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 12:01 PM
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I fail to appreciate the appeal of watching unattractive British actors and actresses glottal-stop their way through grim, sordid "we aren't all posh types, you know" spectacles, when the Jeeves and Wooster series are readily available.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 12:01 PM
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93:Part of the charm of the show is that what he should do by our standards isn't really what he should do in early 60s America

I don't think MM in any way interrogates or challenges our post-60s social conventions/constructions, at least for the part of the audience that has a brain.

In a way, it re-interrogates the old Rock Hudson Cary Grant movies. We get to recognize that process in ourselves that says:"Oh, but he is such a attractive sexist pig."

In a way, the brainless and enlightened audiences get to enjoy similar though opposing thrills of transgression.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 12:12 PM
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This thread reminded me of the UK miniseries Buddha of Suburbia, which was fucking awesome.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 12:14 PM
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97: nice, Bob. I can't tell exactly what you are doing here except formulating a variety of ways of calling people brainless. QED I suppose.

I guess what you mean by MM re-interrogating Cary Grant movies is that it attempts to show what may have been, I dunno, life like in a country that would create Cary Grant movies. Which is not something I see attempted all that often, rather than just a re-hasing of the style of the period with a final "isn't it great we had the sexual revolution and a reduction in overt racism" note. And it's interesting to see how alien that society is today.

Maybe this is something that is attempted somewhat regularly, but never as successfully. I watch Mad Men and don't feel any kind of nostalgia.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 12:28 PM
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The very best Mad Men Blog ...essential, I think, made as much by its commenters as posters, and worth reading every one of the hundreds of weekly comments.

Look, it is an amazing show, but beyond the art and craft it may be surprising me in trying to show that Don & Pete & Roger are victims of their times and the patriarchy, if not as much as the women. Maybe. Sometimes, a little.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 12:32 PM
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It does question the importance of writing, and maybe brings attention to the magic Gellar had at a particular period in her life.

Depending on what you mean by importance, I don't think I agree. Firefly was a commercial failure, but it absolutely wasn't an artistic one. Conversely I think the many artistic failings of Dollhouse were largely down to the writing, both in the uniformly terrible Fox-led first five episodes, and in the relatively rarer later bad ones. Yes, it mattered that Dushku couldn't carry the weight put on her shoulders, but it was more important to me that her storylines couldn't either. Her engagements were dull and usually either contrived or repetitive. That said, it's also true that some of the show's highest points came from great acting, whether it was Acker in 'Vows' or Gjokaj in 'Belle Chose'.


Anyway, I have to say I wasn't too disappointed about the cancellation - certainly nowhere near as much as I was about Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 12:37 PM
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I'd rather symbolic than realistic gore

I'm obsessed with this video. You may approve of the ax-murdering scene.



Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 12:42 PM
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A lot of high production value dramas recently have been international co-productions - Rome, for example. You wouldn't really think of them as British shows.

I loved "Rome". Also, "Henry VIII".


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 12:43 PM
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whoops, I meant "The Tudors".

Anyway, both evidence that the Brits are fine once they get a healing dose of Hollywood.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 12:44 PM
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Yeah, my point was that they feel very Hollywood, not just in production values but in tone. And when I say Hollywood I really mean HBO.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 12:47 PM
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trying to show that Don & Pete & Roger are victims of their times and the patriarchy

I think it's definitely doing this, but also they are victims of the specific economic system at work, and Draper especially, who should and maybe does know better.

Thanks for the link.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 12:52 PM
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Firefly was a commercial failure, but it absolutely wasn't an artistic one.

Whedon is an experienced pro, who knows a show that is cancelled is not a success. Filion has has multiple failures.

I think the dynamics of a long TV run almost always involves the stars taking over some control of the show from the writers and producers. This is the politics of a set. We don't really have much doubt about who controls Medium or Ghost Whisperer, do we?

And I think this time, having lost a project due to an unassertive lead, Whedon attached himself to Dushku's idea and project in the hope of a different chemistry.

PS:I see the third season of Mad Men as in part about January Jones gaining a disproportionate influence, or being given a showcase before she moved on to better paying gigs.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 12:54 PM
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Whedon is an experienced pro, who knows a show that is cancelled is not a success. Filion has has multiple failures.

Well, sure, but it was still the greatest sci-fi show for decades until BSG came along.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 1:14 PM
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Firefly was a commercial failure, but it absolutely wasn't an artistic one.

[Cough, choke, something cruel about space hookers and Whedon's too-obvious fantasies about being beaten up delicate little gamines, bitter condemnation of all the fucking banter, longer peroration about SF's Napoleon complex with links to various insane Charles-Stross-is-better-than-John-Updike-and-Ernest-Hemingway-combined threads at nerdsylvania Making Light, quick departure to go read something where people kill each other and have sex the old-fashioned way: without talking about it.]


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 1:24 PM
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109: tee hee!

Do you mind ragging on BSG too, while you're here?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 1:34 PM
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110: "It's literature, damn it -- like The Wire! In space! spaceships with mold and bad plumbing. Really, it's like [insert name of '70s-'80s British cultural touchstone]."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 1:40 PM
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||

The reason...is because watch.

|>


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 2:06 PM
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re: 85

My grandparents lived in the Red Road flats, and one of my uncles was a caretaker in one. They were, -- before the many improvements made in the 90s -- genuinely very much not nice. My grandmother had her arm broken once by a mugger/junkie [she was about 80 at the time].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 5:01 PM
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i have trouble believing that some dryness would ruin cotton.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 6:10 PM
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if a show that is cancelled is therefor not a success, what shows are a success? the price is right, law&order, soap operas, and dr who?


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 6:13 PM
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I think Whedon has always wanted to play in the big leagues, the networks, not just for himself but for the people who work with him. I am pretty sure there is still at least an extra zero attached to all numbers with the big four.

Jon Hamm is 38, and my guess is that he is making $20k an episode x 13 episodes a year = #260k before deductions.

James Spader is making at least $50k per episode x 22 episodes - $1.1 million.

Of course there are the people behind the scenes. Of course, Whedon doesn't do it alone, but to a degree he is the entrepreneur, the job creator, and he wants to provide good jobs.

What would say about a restaurant or store that closed after a year? "It had great food but nobody came there to eat? Didn't get repeat or word-of-mouth? But it was a success, anyway?" Or any business with dozens of people on the payroll that closes?

A TV series isn't a novel, or a painting, or 5 kids in a band, or an indie movie made with credit cards. It's a big business art, with a lot of people's incomes at stake. The standards for success are very high. The challenge is incredible, and the rewards are the same.

I think this is another difference between American and British TV.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 7:39 PM
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This is a funny movie with David Duchovny about a writer trying to get his vision to the small screen. He has a pregnant wife and a mortgage so he makes compromises with the studio, actors etc while making the pilot.

The expression on Duchovny's face after the pilot is picked up and he realizes he is contracted to produce stuff he hates for five years while making tons of money is priceless.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 7:49 PM
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I realized, watching this, that I've seen Manchester accents written out a fair amount, but hardly ever heard them.

Tony Wilson (or the Steve Coogan inpression thereof)'s music show.

No need for subtitles, though.
Correct !


Posted by: 24 hour Econolicious | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:40 PM
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45: I don't know if I have different standards because I assume that British TV is just innately better than ours, or if I'm just guessing correctly that an American show would fuck it up.

I watched the Brit Life on Mars when they first ran it on BBC America whenever the hell that was. (Two years ago?) OK, I watched the first coupla episodes. Anyways, the Brits don't do the pulsepounding-ominous-music-twenty-minute-buildup-explaining-that-this-is-the-greatest-event-in-the-history-of-the-universe-thing, they just sort of explain things and get on with the plot. (BTW, are all the History channel shows now so dumbed down as to be unwatchable, or is that just me?) Those shows also assume the viewer has an IQ higher than a rutabaga, unlike American shows. That said, it was no longer quite worth the effort to watch it after the first half-dozen episodes.

I also couldn't make the effort to watch the first episodes of the Prisoner, but while I was grinding hamburger last night, I watched the 3rd and 4th episodes and I really quite rather liked them. Speaking as someone who has watched the original backwards and forwards (and upside down as well). I rather gather they took the last two episodes of the original seriously, which means they've improved the first episodes.

109:[Cough, choke, something cruel about space hookers and Whedon's too-obvious fantasies about being beaten up delicate little gamines, bitter condemnation of all the fucking banter, longer peroration about SF's Napoleon complex with links to various insane Charles-Stross-is-better-than-John-Updike-and-Ernest-Hemingway-combined threads at nerdsylvania Making Light, quick departure to go read something where people kill each other and have sex the old-fashioned way: without talking about it.]

Ah, the reason I stopped paying attention to SF much.

max
['Something new under the sun.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:11 PM
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119: as a smart man pointed out: when the President of the United States collects Spider-Man comics and is photographed with a lightsaber on the White House lawn, that's proof that SF is the mainstream. Deal with it.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 1:38 AM
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Yes, isn't it odd when major world leaders take sf seriously! I say, that H G Wells, did he ever meet any of them?

(SF has always been mainstream. If you don't watch out I will proceed to rant about how engineer-literature colonised sf and self-ghettoised, managing to convince itself it was discriminated against for being sf, as opposed for being generally shit.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 1:47 AM
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blah that was a bit bitchy; consider it withdrawn, would you?


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 2:10 AM
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blah that was a bit bitchy; consider it withdrawn, would you?

But true.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 2:36 AM
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SF has always been mainstream.

Not actually true, as any inspection of the structure of the publishing industry, the book review section of any major newspaper, or the floor layout of most major bookshops would tell you.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 2:38 AM
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I think this is another difference between American and British TV.

Maybe. The Office had only 13 episodes in the UK and it's considered one of the most successful shows of all time.
I take your point about Whedon as entrepreneur. All I'm saying is that as a viewer I'd rather have one Firefly than a dozen Stargates. If it were my career on the line it would probably be the other way around, true. Still, I think blaming Filion for Firefly's cancellation is a bit of a stretch.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 2:38 AM
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ajay, yes there is a large subset of SF, derived from the US pulp tradition and, as Keir says "engineering lit" which is (partly self-) ghettoised in the sense you imply, but there has always been fiction which meets any sane definition of SF and which is outside that ghetto. Verne, Wells, Wyndham, Lessing appear on the mainstream fiction shelves as often as they do in the genre annex.

Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 was on the British "O" Level English Lit syllabus in 1966, for fuck's sake. I reckon if 100,000 sixteen year olds are being asked to do an exam on a book to demonstrate their familiarity with literature, it's mainstream.

And what about all the people like Atwood who write perfectly good SF and then deny that's what they're doing? Are you supporting their delusions?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 2:54 AM
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63: I think I remember Evan Davies!


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 2:57 AM
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127: he's not dead while his name is still spoken!


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 7:12 AM
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Hmmm. Yglesias is stalking me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 11:18 AM
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