Category Archives: TV

Crissle West on Sarah Silverman’s Blackface

I enjoyed Crissle’s Drunk History take on Harriet Tubman and started looking for more of her. Here she gives her take on Sarah Silverman’s use of blackface on her show.

“I can absolutely say that you’re racist for being a white woman to put on blackface and go on television. Yes, I can absolutely call you racist for that. You understand the history behind it and you did it anyway. That is racist.”

When CBS Humiliated Judy Garland

Even though I know my showtunes, I’m not particularly a Liza, Barbara, or Judy Gay. (I didn’t really get the affection for Liza until I saw Liza With a Z which whether you are gay or straight or whatever is a fucking stunning movie of her a musical revue written just for her where she stomps through one song after another like some sort of musical super soldier.)

In 1964, Judy taped the final episode of the first (and only) seasonof The Judy Garland Show. Browbeaten, humiliated, over-medicated, and defeated, she tore through a performance of “By Myself” so raw and dark, CBS cut it from the final episode. Here’s the video and the background:

“CBS execs.. sought to topple the #1 show on TV, NBC’s Bonanza, by treating audiences to Judy every week. … CBS exec James Aubrey, known as ‘the smiling cobra’ for his ability to flatter and wheedle to one’s face while at the same time ruthlessly manipulating situations behind the scenes, played on Judy’s desire for financial and familial stability and convinced her that a weekly TV series was the answer to all her problems. …

“Judy and the production team had been promised a relatively free-hand in creating the format for her variety show, but almost immediately CBS began interfering. … Their version of comedy relief was Jerry making jokes about Judy’s struggles with weight and self-image (Garland had been gotten quite heavy prior to slimming down for her show).

“The humiliation comes into play because, while CBS bought a sophisticated musical variety show for grown-ups, when it came to actually tape the episodes they used a heavy hand in attempting to channel Judy into something she wasn’t.

“Judy, for her part, was a phenomenally good sport for the first 13 episodes and gamely went along with skits and jokes she must have found hurtful and unfunny. The tide began to turn when she was called from taping to a CBS board room for notes.

“Judy was told that her frequent hugging and hand-holding of guests was making audiences uncomfortable – that CBS test audiences didn’t feel comfortable having Judy in their homes. With that, Judy requested a telephone and called her very good friend, President John F. Kennedy, in the presence of the board. After confirming that Kennedy had seen the previous week’s show, Judy asked how comfortable he and Jackie were with having her in their home every week. Kennedy replied he was very comfortable with Judy and looked forward to the next time they could get together. Judy’s power play backfired and William Paley, CBS head, began the process of gutting her show budget, which would hopefully lead to cancellation – his words “I don’t want that cunt bringing down my Sunday evening.” JFK’s death in November of that year saw the loss of one of Judy’s biggest supporters and the struggle she had over performing a tribute to Kennedy on the show sealed the deal. In the end, CBS, allowed Judy to sing ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’ but not dedicate the performance to “Dear Jack.”

“As kind and supportive as CBS appeared to be when wooing Garland was as mean and vindictive as they became when it was clear Judy would never beat Bonanza. Instead of moving time-slots and giving the show a chance, as they did with many of Judy’s peers – particularly Danny Kaye – they unceremoniously cancelled the series – WHILE THE FIRST SEASON WAS STILL BEING TAPED!

“Judy Garland not only had to face the negativity of the CBS publicity machine working against her, she had to suffer the humiliation of finishing out her contract when she knew there would be no second season. Her dreams of stability shattered, and with only enough budget remaining for ‘concert-style’ shows, Judy kicked it up a notch and gave some of her finest, rawest performances in the final episodes.

“I’m sad for the circumstances surrounding The Judy Garland show, but it resulted in some of the best performances of Judy’s career and gives us and idea of how electric and amazing Judy was live.”

Full discussion in context.

Four Post-Apocalyptic Seinfeld Scenes

From a Reddit writing prompt:

The last two people alive are Jerry and a woman. They can’t repopulate the planet because she has weird ear lobes. … With a mutant George.

George: “Jerry, what’s wrong with her?”
Jerry: “Her ear lobes, I just can’t do it”
George: “Jerry, she’s a gorgeous woman”
Jerry: “It’s the lobes! The lobes! It’s a bad lobe to rest of ear ratio. It just won’t work!”
Mutant George: “Just look at me! My ear is hanging off my head!”
Jerry: “I know I KNOW!”
Jerry: “I’m lobe conscious. I’m a lobe conscious individual”
Mutant George: “You’re a lobist! You have always hated the lobe, Jerry! Always hated the lobe!”

Rise and shine

Elaine: I know his marksmanship was keeping the horde at bay but he said the same thing every morning! “Rise and shine, time to survive.” I couldn’t take it anymore!
Jerry: So you got the group to shun him?
Elaine: It was obviously bothering other people or it wouldn’t have been so easy!
Jerry: What does it even mean?
Elaine: I know!
[later in the episode, Elaine’s group is pinned down by zeds and rescued by another group, led by You Know Who]
Elaine [looking at her former group leader]: Rise and shine?

Cannibalism and man-hands

Jerry: I don’t know, George, she’s beautiful, but I think she’s a cannibal!
George: So what? It’s not she’s trying to eat you. You know how many attractive there are left in this town?
Kramer: You know those cannibals, Jerry, they get into some (weird Kramer clicking sound) kinky stuff!

JERRY: She had man-hands!
ELAINE: [pause] Man, hands?
JERRY: The hands of a man. She keeps dozens of them in a cooler and eats them!
ELAINE: So you can’t date someone who’s into finger food?
[Laugh-track]

Sponges to Cirpo

Jerry to Elaine: “So let me get this straight. You walked for 10 days straight to loot every pharmacy in greater Manhattan of antibiotics?”
Elaine: “Yep.”
Jerry: “Aaand you refuse to give one dose to your dying boyfriend?”
Elaine: “I don’t refuse Jerry, I’m not an animal! It’s just, just that’s there’s only so much left and…”
Jerry: “and what? The man is dying!”
Elaine: “…and I’m just not sure he’s, well, antibiotic-worthy!”
Jerry: “antibiotic-worthy???”
Elaine: “Don’t get me wrong, he’s nice and all, but say someday I have a great husband who gives me a wonderful life – I’m a queen among the ruins – and he gets gangrene? What’ll i do? Say ‘Sorry, but I gave out too many doses to my previous conquests?!”

Full thread http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/2l5sre/what_would_be_a_seinfeld_situation_in_a_post/

Zombie Seinfeld from http://www.instash.com/seinfeld-zombie-art-prints

The Science Behind Blue’s Clues

From The Onion’s AVClub:

The show drew on decades of studies about the success of Sesame Street and other educational programming. For a long time, the conventional wisdom in academia toward educational television held that TV-watching itself was such a passive activity—and the medium so inherently distracting—that there was no way children could derive any benefit from it.  The big question Blue’s Clues’ producers wanted Anderson to help answer was whether it was possible to hold very young children’s attention spans long enough to teach them something that would actually stick. One method Anderson proposed: reducing the edits. His research showed that children have difficulty understanding montage until they get older. A sudden change of location or even camera-angle can break a child’s concentration. That’s why Blue’s Clues looks the way it does, with very few cuts, and with a host who stands in front of a background that changes mainly when he walks or when he “skidoos” to a new place. Little kids (like my easily baffled son) were able to understand where they were at all times, which made it easier for them to follow the story.

Blue’s Clues, “Occupations”

Last One Standing TV Show on Discovery Channel

Anybody else get a bit grossed out about this show? Members of Western ‘modern’ civilization go out into the bush and learn the warrior ways from Those Who Are Not Us.

The idea is to have three American and three British athletes, all from different sports, compete over eight episodes in different kinds of ancient tribal challenges. The one who wins the most wins the title of “Last One Standing.”

At least the last one until the second season begins.

Oh those crazy Magical Brown People!