How I met your premise: HIMYM finale about as real as sitcoms get

Many critics and fans felt cheated by twist in How I Met Your Mother finale. They should feel grateful.

by James Brown

There are three types of TV viewers: the surfers, the passive, and the devotees.

Surfers flip channels and watch anything that catches their attention. Passive viewers want comfort food: dramas that thrill them and sitcoms full of belly laughs. Devotees ask all that surfers and passive viewers want and more. Devotees also ask that those same shows are logical, well shot, acted, written and directed, all the while being original. Those same viewers, increasingly and unrealistically, ask fictional television to reflect and comment on reality. Few hours of television have done all that as well as the much scrutinized and often panned How I Met Your Mother finale. Continue reading

Big laughs, Broad City

Broad City explores typical New York tropes through a fresh lens with hilarious results.

by James Brown

It’s easy to compare Broad City, the latest sitcom from Comedy Central to Lena Dunham’s HBO series Girls; their bones are the same. Both series star young, broke, white, twenty-something female characters in modern day New York City, but that’s where the similarities end. Girls is a direct descendant of Ally McBeal. It’s a melodrama that finds laughs (and at times brilliance) in the margins of its characters’ strained relationships. Even its flights of fancy are grounded in a character driven reality. Broad City isn’t interested in any of that. Much like FX’s Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Broad City trades realism for lots of silliness at supersonic speed. Broad City is a live action cartoon worthy of the Road Runner.

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Hell no, Chaz Bono should not be on Dancing With the Stars. Wait – never mind…

Sweet hell – can you believe they’re going to let Chaz Bono compete on Dancing With the Stars? What a travesty.

Oh, no. Not because of that. We’re perfectly down with a transgender competitor. That couldn’t bother us less. No, the issue is more essential: since when did Chaz Bono become a star? His Wikipedia entry calls him a “transgender advocate, writeractor, and musician.” Yeah, he has earned a profile for the advocacy work, which is great, but if we’re being honest here, we have to admit that Chaz’s main claim to fame was being born to famous parents.

I mean, this show is about dancing with, you know, the stars. Continue reading

Nota Bene #119: Think! It Ain't Illegal Yet

“My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #118: VOTE!

“I am not fit for this office and should never have been here.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #117: Wake Up!

“Hollywood is so crooked that Mafia gangsters are entirely outclassed and don’t stand a chance. People in Hollywood are smarter. They have more sophisticated knowledge of money and deals and how to steal legally rather than illegally.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #112: GOOOLLLLLLLL

“Freedom of any kind is the worst for creativity.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #110: WEHT SWK?

“In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #109: You Can't Tuna Fish

“It’s absolutely stunning to me, the contempt in which the network holds the audience. The idea that these people have standards is laughable.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #103: Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse

“To take people from the music world and give them the same kind of credibility that you give me, Morgan Freeman, Laurence Fishburne, Forest Whitaker—that’s like an aberration. I know there’s some young actor sitting in New York or L.A. who’s spent half of his life learning how to act and sacrificing to learn his craft but isn’t going to get his opportunity because of some ‘actor’ who’s been created.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #100: Il Planetario di Figaro

Wow, 100 issues of Nota Bene! Props to Russ for helping me for a while with this nifty little S&R feature. Never mind all that now, let’s get on with this issue. “What splendid buildings our architects would be able to execute if only they could finally be less obedient to gravity!” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #99: Heed the Peace Gnome

“You just pick up a chord, go twang, and you’ve got music.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #97: toDwI'ma' qoS yItIvqu'!

“To be truly free, and truly to appreciate its freedom, a society must be literate.” Continue reading

Nota Bene #95: STFU

Gonna try something different Continue reading

It’s TIME we look at advertising as a performance art. Or an act.

by greg stene, phd

We cannot continue to think of advertising as merely a print ad or TV spot. We need to include far more as advertising … including the actions of people and corporations.

Their Performance Art. And in contrast, their Performance Acts.

Real Performance Art is not just some dude dancing in a street. Or some Laurie Anderson musical performance. Or some geek sitting around reciting poetry that shows up on an HDTV screen in front of him in a restaurant while he’s eating raw buffalo meat. Continue reading

Media 2015: Same as it ever was. But different.

by greg stene, ph.d.

Bigtime news here. And the implications for newspapers and TV are large.

For years, a lot of people supposedly in the know have said that when one significant ad spender puts the dollars into the online medium in a committed way, it will force all the other majors, from P&G to whomever to do the same to remain competitive.

Basically, it’s the idea that when the first biggie makes the move, everyone realizes they’ve got to dive deeply into the pool, rather than just continue dipping their toes in and testing the water’s temperature (somebody else’s ancient analogy). If they don’t, they’re going to be way behind those who do.

We may see a swarm of this kind of commitment soon. Continue reading

Who will provide answers to the most basic of questions?

As an inquisitive person trying to survive life relatively unscathed and to leave the world at least a little better off for my presence, I need answers to two fundamental questions:

How does the world work?

Why does it work that way?

We all struggle, I suppose, with the really big question: What is the meaning of life? Or, if you’re a socially conscious, progressive person, this somewhat smaller question: How can I try to fix what’s wrong? But I can’t consider either of those without compelling answers to the first two.

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