Mourning Sitcoms: When Networks Kill What They’re Trying to Save

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The Fox military sitcom Enlisted should’ve been a success. It had a talented ensemble cast, was headed by Kevin Biegel, one of the people behind the excellent sitcoms Scrubs and Cougar Town, and, most importantly, it was really, really funny. Yet Fox, for reasons I can’t parse out, decided to air episodes out of order, resulting in characters suddenly dating several episodes before being introduced to one another, rivalries appearing out of thin air only to be explained weeks later, and a general sense that there were no real stakes in the show. After weeks of declining ratings in a nonsense time slot (Fridays at 9 P.M.), Fox canceled Enlisted. For a first-season half-hour broadcast sitcom, it costs about $1 million per episode, give or take a few hundred thousand dollars. So why would a network go to all the trouble of buying, producing, and airing a sitcom, only to air the episodes out of order, alienate viewers, then ditch the show for another?


Girls: Hannah’s Dead Inside – S3 E4

Hannah realizes she’s “Dead Inside.”


Girls: Hannah’s New Expression – S3 E3

A now twenty-five-year-old Hannah begins to realize her own immaturity.


The Best Films of 2013 You Didn’t See

No one sees every film from every year, but it’s easy for strong ones to slip through the cracks for whatever reason. True, Oscar Season shines light on some great films that the average moviegoer hasn’t heard much about, but that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the great movies that fly under the radar. With that in mind, here are some of the best films of the year that you probably didn’t see.


Girls: Season 3 Premiere Reviewed – E1&2


HBO’s Girls and the Good Life: Anticipating Season 3

Girls is an excellent starting point for discussion of many live issues, but especially two tropes synonymous in almost all other television shows: sex and happiness. Inspired by several philosophers, but especially Michel Foucault, I have come to see Girls as one of the rare places where sex and happiness, often represented as inseparable—what everyone wants as part of the American Dream—are instead divorced and perpetually put into question…


Violent with Purpose: The Case for Extreme Horror

Violent with Purpose

“There are many good new scary movies, but few great ones,” wrote critic Jason Zinoman in 2011, and it’s hard to argue with him. Horror might be the most viscerally exciting genre in all of cinema, yet not many horror movies of the past few years have taken the same grip that The Exorcist, Halloween, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre did in the 1970s. Part of that is because of a dispiriting trend of cookie-cutter remakes (Friday the 13th, Texas Chainsaw 3-D), but even the original horror movies of the past several years seem hesitant to truly unnerve people.

Writing for Slate in a series titled “How to Fix the Horror Film”, Zinoman wrote that horror films should “stop trying to be so damn respectable.” Zinoman, whose excellent book Shock Value traces how horror films of the 1960s and 1970s “went for the throat and then worked their way down”, argues that horror needs to push boundaries in order to be effective. And indeed, one horror subgenre in the 2000s, extreme horror, pushed the boundaries of what viewers could take, rattling and unsettling them like few films of their time.


Shadows and Splatter: 10 Horror Movies to Watch on Halloween


Halloween is coming, and it’s the perfect time of the year to curl up with a special someone (or alone in the dark) and marathon horror movies. Journeying on your own through all the options out there is a daunting task, so I’m here to give you some recommendations. Here’s some established classics and overlooked gems worth checking out this week.


Dispatches from TIFF: Prestige Pictures and Grindhouse Flicks on the Festival Circuit

12 Years A Slave

The Toronto International Film Festival doesn’t have the same pedigree as Cannes, nor does it exclusively serve up-and-coming directors like Sundance. What does it have instead? Options. Pitched as a populist film festival, TIFF brings hundreds of different films together for a week and a half for press, industry types, film fanatics, and general moviegoers, who can see anything from the latest avant-garde opus to a future Oscar contender, from world cinema masters to first-time directors. It’s a wonderful smorgasbord for anyone with a ticket.


No Happy Endings: The Lo-fi Brilliance of ‘Spaced’


One night, Tim (Simon Pegg), Daisy (Jessica Stevenson) and Brian (Mark Heap) spend the evening watching the Star Wars Trilogy. As the credits roll on Return of the Jedi (1983), Tim, moved to tears by the films, explains to Brian that the events of the entire trilogy can be attributed to the actions of one minor character: the gunner on the Star Destroyer in the first film. Inspired by this new information, Brian then expounds on Chaos Theory, “the notion that reality as we know it—past, present, future—is in fact a mathematically predictable preordained system,” connecting it to the idea of fate in the Star Wars films. Tim, Daisy, and Brian pause to reflect on the heady concept before Tim, wide-eyed and excited, realizes that he has some “fuckin Jaffa Cakes in [his] coat pocket!” They exclaim in joy and then debate who has to get up from the couch to go retrieve them.

It’s a scene that feels so eerily familiar to my life even though it’s from the late-90s UK show Spaced, created by Pegg and Stevenson and directed by Edgar Wright.

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