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October 25, 2014

TV 101

TV 101: Auteur Theory (or How YOU can make TV better, a practical guide)

by Jay Black, posted Apr 10th 2008 11:04AM
Sure, he looks like a less-than-affluent grad student, but the man moves mountains every Thursday!Blogsmith, the software that we write TV Squad on, keeps a running tally of how many words we've written for the site. I can therefore tell you with precision that since I was hired in November of '06, I've written exactly 169,676 words of news, reviews, and opinion. While I'd like to think that most of those 169,676 words were entertaining, I have no illusions about whether or not they were helpful. My future brother-in-law is a surgeon; his job helps people. I write reviews of The Office.

That changes today. Last night, as I was drifting to sleep, I happened upon an idea that will not only make television better, it's something that we can all start doing right now. My idea, after the jump....

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TV 101: Seven reasons Simon Cowell should be our next president

by Jay Black, posted Apr 3rd 2008 11:02AM
Who wouldn't want to see this face on the one dollar bill?Here is an unimpeachable truth: anyone who wants to be president probably shouldn't be president. If you spend $400,000,000 for a $400,000 a year job, you're either stupid or corrupt or (most likely) both. In an ideal world, a presidential hopeful accepts the nomination with reluctance, George Washington style.

It's with this in mind that I'd like to start a movement to draft the one man who I think can turn this country around. The one man who has the credibility and the credentials to unite a society fractured by war and recession. The one man who connects with young and old; gay and straight; really, really gay and butchy gay. That's right, I'd like to nominate Simon Cowell for president.

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TV 101: I'm such a Jackass (or five things I learned at MTV)

by Jay Black, posted Mar 21st 2008 12:01PM
God, why did I take this assignment?On the Jackassworld website, they have a "feature" called the "AlphaPoo". This is a collection of 26 pictures of... er, human poo... that resembles the alphabet. I don't bring this up because it's clever (in fact, if there is a bright center of clever in the universe, the AlphaPoo is the idea farthest from it); I bring it up because writing this feature about Jackass reminded me of poo. Specifically, poo that you want to come out but won't.

See, almost four weeks ago, I was sent to MTV Studios to cover the 24 hour Jackass "takeover" of the network to celebrate the premiere of Jackassworld. I figured that I would write up a few hundred words the next day and everyone would be happy. Instead, this article has festered in the bowels of my brain for almost a month. Enough is enough. I've taken some mental Metamucil (i.e. Scotch) and I'm just going to let it rip...

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TV 101: Dribs and Drabs (or, stuff that wouldn't fit in my last column)

by Jay Black, posted Feb 20th 2008 11:41AM
No offense, but if you actually label a part of your fridge Like a lot of writers, I have an idea folder (it's manila, but I have it covered in puffy rainbow and unicorn stickers, so it's beautiful). As each week progresses, I jot down all my ideas -- for columns, for stand-up bits, for ransom notes -- and at the end of that week, I take stock of my creative output.

This week, I noticed that there were a lot of ideas that I wanted to share, but that weren't quite big enough for a full TV 101 column. I attached them to the end of my last column in a section called "Dribs and Drabs." It was a good thought, except that it took an already bloated piece (my writing makes the Unabomber's manifesto look like a dream of concise thought) and puffed it up into a 3000 word monstrosity. My editor suggested I break up the Dribs and Drabs section into its own piece, and that, dear readers, is what I did. Dribs and Drabs, after the jump...

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TV 101: The Day the Music Died (or, how the second season of The Real World ruined everything)

by Jay Black, posted Feb 18th 2008 12:02PM
This is the true story... Chuck Klosterman, in his very excellent Sex Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, wrote an essay about The Real World: San Francisco. He said that the third season of The Real World was the moment the series stopped reflecting youth culture and started creating youth culture.

I'm not going to argue with Mr. Klosterman. I admire him so much that for a short while, I thought he was my own Tyler Durden (all the ways I wish I could be -- that's Chuck). If we are, however, to take Klosterman's argument as truth -- that Puck and Pedro realizing the cameras were on them was the TV equivalent of Skynet becoming self-aware and destroying humanity -- we must then look to the second season of the show as the moment when Miles Dyson started working for Cyberdyne. That is, the seeds for television's unraveling were sown not during the third season of The Real World, but during the second. As 2008 is the 15th anniversary of The Real World: Los Angeles, I thought it might be a good idea to take a look back at how it managed to ruin everything...

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TV 101: Channel Drift (or, what the hell happened to A&E?)

by Jay Black, posted Jan 21st 2008 10:01AM
I usually write something witty right here, but, uh... can't really concentrate...Do you remember coming back from your first semester at college and running into a kid you used to go to high school with who decided to use college as an excuse to totally reinvent him or herself? Like he was the class dork and in three months he's all of a sudden a death-metal anarchist? Or she dated the basketball team (the varsity, junior varsity, AND the freshmen) and now she dresses like Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman?

There was always something disturbing about it. Not so much that they had changed -- everyone has a right to change -- but because what they now were was different from the template you had made for them. When the universe doesn't act like you expect it to, you get uneasy; it's a natural reaction. I couldn't help but feel that way this week, when I watched A&E's new show Parking Wars.

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TV 101: Carson Kressley's new show (or "No, actually, you DON'T look good naked")

by Jay Black, posted Jan 3rd 2008 2:20PM
Is I write the introductions to my articles after I write the articles themselves. This is because I find the introductions the hardest part and, remembering the advice I got from the introduction to the S.A.T.s, when I run into a problem I can't easily solve, it's a good idea for me to go to the next question and return later.

This introduction, however, was easy to write. That's because my wife wrote it for me. She read the column and then turned to me and said, "Wow, you're gonna get crucified for this." I asked her, "Worse than my Simpsons essay?" She said, "The reaction to this will make the Simpsons essay look like a fawning Office review. I agree with it, and I'm sure a lot of other people will as well, but the ones that don't... Wow, they are just gonna hate you!" So, uh, thanks honey. Now, on to the crucifying...

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TV 101: My fix for the censorship debate (or, G*dd*mn S*lly!)

by Jay Black, posted Sep 21st 2007 9:03AM
Yep, there's our Gidget, all growed up.Here's what you need to know to understand why I'm writing this column.

1) Last Sunday, I liveblogged the Emmys for TV Squad.

2) During the Emmys, Sally Field decided to make her feelings about war known. She said, "If mothers ruled the world, then we'd stop this G*dd*mn war."

3) AOL, TV Squad's parent site, decided to link to my liveblog under a question asking their readers to "sound off" about what Sally said.

4) Every single comment that is posted on something I've written here at TV Squad is sent to me as an email.

5) AOL has a lot of readers. Not that TV Squad is any slouch, but holy Jeebus, my inbox was stretched to the breaking point.

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TV 101: Why I hate the haters

by Jay Black, posted Aug 2nd 2007 11:40AM
This is the face I make whenever someone talks trash about the Simpsons.Try this experiment: mention The Simpsons anywhere and see how long it takes for someone to say, "Oh, right, The Simpsons, yeah, they were good for the first ten seasons, but after that, they just got SO UNFUNNY! I don't know why people watch anymore!"

Since Fox decided to release a Simpsons movie (apparently under the radar -- I mean if you're going to release a movie, you should at least market it! you know?), I've been hearing that sentiment approximately once every thirty-four seconds. It annoys me every time I hear it, but it wasn't until today that I realized exactly why this was so.

It's because the people expressing it are confusing their ignorant negativity for intelligent commentary.

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TV 101: Why I wish we only had three channels to choose from

by Jay Black, posted Jul 9th 2007 10:30AM
It's just like my family except no one is drunk.When I was in college I heard my favorite author of all time, Kurt Vonnegut, give a speech that included a quaint (and wrongheaded) defense of snail mail. He went on and on about the wonderfulness of buying a stamp and putting pen to paper -- all that stuff that makes sense when you're dealing with your thirtieth Erectile Dysfunction spam of the day, but which falls apart the second you want to send a picture of your cool new scar to all of your friends at once (or similarly important things).

Well, here I am at thirty about to do what Vonnegut did at my college. A silly and wrongheaded argument for something that I know in my heart we're all better without. I always knew I'd follow in Vonnegut's footsteps as a writer...

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TV 101: Why I can't stand the RGX Body Spray Girl - VIDEOS

by Jay Black, posted May 25th 2007 10:02AM
Sure, she's pretty, but...Being a married man, I look at pretty girls a lot like diabetics look at chocolate cake: delicious but deadly. That doesn't stop me from looking, though -- a lot. In fact, a quick read of my history as a blogger here at TV Squad reveals so many references to how hot different girls on television are I'm surprised that I haven't been protested by the National Organization of Women.

That's why I'm so surprised that I'm writing this particular blog. All of my history and biology point to me absolutely loving the RGX Body Spray Girl. I don't though. I can't stand her.

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TV 101: Ways to make hotel TV viewing better

by Jay Black, posted May 3rd 2007 10:04AM
I hope no one reads the alternative text because it's here that I reveal that I never actually watched Fawlty Towers.So, this feature has been gone a long long time. If you're one of my nearly four or so fans, you've probably been beside yourself with grief.

Well grieve yourselves no longer. TV 101 is back from its long hiatus.

Where was I? Well, my college stand-up tour this spring was a little more successful than I (or my agent or my wife or any of my friends) could have possibly predicted and I spent the last four months getting an intimate tour of every medium-priced hotel in the Midwest.

As a traveler and TV watcher, I've returned from my road-trip with some observations about what hotels can do to make our lives (as television viewers) a bit nicer...

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TV 101: The House dilemma

by Jay Black, posted Mar 23rd 2007 2:02PM
Ah, I wish I had a drug addiction!Like a lot of men who fancy themselves hyper-intelligent social critics (and judging from the comments of this and other boards, that group pretty much includes every single male user of the internet) I not only love the character of House, I want to be him.

Seriously, if I were watching this show in my more impressionable years, there's a good chance I'd be going to school with a cane/concert t-shirt/sports jacket combination tomorrow. (Interesting side note: I was not popular in high school).

The House character is great. So great, actually, that he's destroying the TV show House.

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TV 101: Why you're not allowed to complain about what's on TV

by Jay Black, posted Mar 9th 2007 11:21AM
yes, this is the worst scum-head in the universe, but he's on TV because you want him on it!Hey, did you hear? Anna Nicole Smith died and there's a fight over her corpse. Also, there's genocide in Darfur, quite possibly because of something Howard K. Stern said.

Over the last two weeks, I've been subjected to a rash of televised news about fluffy non-stories that I didn't care about. I bemoaned the state of American News Television and nodded knowingly when SNL (such a satire, that SNL) ran a skit that said the same thing.

Except here's the thing: I did sorta care about Anna Nicole Smith. And yes, I cared more about her than the genocide in Darfur. Does that make me a classless, shortsighted, anti-intellectual? Yep. It also makes me an American.

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TV 101: The Real Time View

by Jay Black, posted Feb 21st 2007 10:25AM
One day the ancients will look back at this little guy and worship it...Well, folks, I'm happy to say that you're here for the birth of something new. Unlike a human birth, though, there's no viscous discharge or long and grueling lawsuits over paternity. No, unlike a human birth, this is something to be celebrated!

That's right, you're here for the joyous birth of a new feature here at TV Squad: TV 101.

Just what is TV 101? Well, you're going to have to follow me over the jump to find out...

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