What's the best weapon in the U.S. arsenal for fighting terrorism? Foreign aid? Military might? Propaganda?
The answer: American TV shows.
According to a report at the Guardian.co.uk titled "WikiLeaks cables: Jihad? Sorry, I don't want to miss 'Desperate Housewives'," satellite broadcasts of American TV shows are doing more to persuade Saudi Arabian youth to reject violent jihad than hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. government intervention.
This interesting cultural fact was told by informants to the American embassy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and revealed as part of the recent WikiLeaks of U.S. cables.
I realized later on that I was probably watching when an entertainment loop was on, but what surprised me is that I wasn't fazed when I thought that was it -- that the ticker was reporting all the news of the world, and all that news was about celebrities.
Well, that's a great question, person who says things to themselves. You need to watch this because it's a one-stop for all of the things you don't have the time or energy to keep track of and watch.
I found it purely by accident, and when it popped onto my screen, I was looking at something that looked like a mix of old Walt Disney animation and something the folks at Jib-Jab would have come up with. Utilizing photographs for the heads of celebrities, exaggerated slightly for comic effect, and little white Disney gloves, the show skewers celebrities and pop culture in short skits like Robot Chicken, and it's far funnier than it has any right to be.
First of all, I have to say that I'm terribly distracted at the moment, because my daughter is watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Even though I just watched it a few months ago, I wouldn't mind watching the entire series again from start to finish. But, alas, there are other things in my stack o' DVDs, so I'll have to be content with hearing it in the background while I work. She just watched the first two eps, and I had totally forgotten that Darla showed up in the very first episode. Interesting. Anyways...
I'll get back to The Wire -- I still have season five to watch -- but this week's Jane After Dark is all about Mad Men. Sometimes I fall deeply and madly in love with a TV show, and that's how it is with AMC's love letter to the 1960s. I raced through season one right after it was released on DVD, but stupidly waited for season two on DVD. I bought it last week and watched the entire season, devouring it like a hearty tenderloin that's perfectly cooked, so I'd be caught up for the season three premiere on August 16. If you haven't watched season two yet, spoilers follow after the jump...
Experts from all kinds of pop culture web sites -- including our own King of TV Paul Goebel right here on TV Squad -- have contributed to the quizzes. And you can actually win some cool stuff -- iPod nano, one-year subscription to Netflix, $1,000 -- if you're smart enough. I, sadly, am not. I was severely slapped down by the quiz I took. I dare you to try and do better! I'm going back to the books before my next shot!
Earlier this year, Adam told you about the pilot that comedian Lewis Black was filming for Comedy Central titled The Root of All Evil. Back then the show was described as a roundtable discussion a la Politically Incorrect or Real Time with Bill Maher or maybe Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn. Well, the network has now picked up the show, and it seems the format has changed (I think).
The show will now feature two celebrities or two pop culture topics that go up against each other. Black will be the moderator and will give the final decision on who "wins" at the end of the show. Comedy Central said the show will put pop culture on trial.
- At 8, ABC has a new The Next Best Thing, then new episodes of American Inventor and Traveler.
- FOX has a new So You Think You Can Dance at 8, followed by the premiere of Don't Forget The Lyrics!
- At 9, NBC has a new America's Got Talent, then a new Last Comic Standing.
- There's a new American Masters on PBS at 9, on Les Paul.
- Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, talks to Larry King on CNN at 9. Should be surreal.
- Sci-Fi has a new Ghost Hunters at 9, followed by a new Destination Truth.
- VH-1 has The World Series of Pop Culture at 9.
- There's a new Footballer's Wives at 9 on BBC America.
- More stuff at 9: G4 has two new episodes of Code Monkeys.
- At 10, FX has a new Rescue Me.
- Discovery has two new episodes of Cash Cab at 10.
- Also at 10: Bravo has a new Top Chef.
Check your local TV listings for more.
Well, this is news to me: comedian Mo Rocca has a blog on AOL, and I have to say, it's the second greatest blog under the AOL umbrella. Rocca calls it "Mo Rocca: 180°" ("only half as tedious as the regular news"), and it's actually updated on a regular basis with Rocca's wry take on politics and popular culture.
What I've learned from Rocca's blog so far is that not only is he funny, he's also discovered possibly the most disgusting breakfast in the known universe: a combination of oatmeal and cottage cheese, a meal I'm pretty sure maintains the exact same look and consistency through all stages of digestion.
The blog also features exclusive video: below is a pre-Oscars clip in which people on the street talk smack about the best actress nominees.
In case you missed Julia's earlier post about it, TV Land's countdown of the one hundred greatest quotes and catchphrases kicks off a five-night run this evening at 10 pm (it will also air at 10 pm the following nights).
I like TV Land, I really do, and this is just another example of the network's dedication to light-hearted entertainment that's not meant to be analyzed too deeply. It's easy to find fault with the list and notice certain omissions, but what the heck, it's only television.
Interesting piece over at Seed magazine. A Boston University researcher decided to try out for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, and used his training in learning, memory, and decision-making to win $500,000.
Ogi Ogas describes his thought process for each question he got, and how he got the answer that he chose for each question. How he would use bits and pieces of knowledge and what he knew was right about an answer to put together the pieces that would give him the final answer, like a memory detective. There's also a bit of intuition involved, as with the question of the first produce that Sears sold in its catalog. Ogas had no idea what the answer was, but for some reason, immediately, "watches" came into his mind. Was it some sort of information that he had read quickly once and had been stored in his memory bank? I wonder if intuition isn't pure intuition at all, but a decision we come to from what we've learned in the past and stored. I'm not sure if this explains why I can't remember to pay certain bills every single month but I remember the Bionic Woman's telephone number (555-2368), but it's fascinating.
Of course, if various aspects of memory and learning are the keys to winning Millionaire, I guess luck and a lack of greed is the secret to winning Deal Or No Deal.
I've always found the guest interview segments of The Colbert Report to be the oddest part of the show. Because it's not like a separate segment, where Colbert comes out of his character for a serious chat with the guest, he stays in character throughout the entire interview, and it's up to the guest to make his point, plug his book, or just completely play along with the "sketch" and have some fun with it. Some of the best moments of the show is when the guest catches Colbert offguard and Colbert laughs and slips out of character for just a moment.
So what should you do if you're a guest on the show? Troy Patterson over at Slate has some tips. Basically, it comes down to 1.) Act your age, 2.) Laugh Uproariously, 3.) Embrace The Theater, and 4.) Go on the offensive.
Sounds like good advice to me.
In a scene from one of my favorite shows, Newsradio, Dave (Dave Foley) makes a comment to Bill (Phil Hartman), saying something about "you're like Andy Rooney, only without a sense of humor." And Phil retorts, "Andy Rooney is Andy Rooney without a sense of humor."
It's a lame, inaccurate joke, the only one I can think of from this great show.
Roger Ramjet, a very funny cartoon that originally aired in 1965, could be mistaken for a Jay Ward creation, as its aesthetic, pop cultural references, and "too smart for the little kids watching it" sense of humor bear a striking resemblance to Ward's Rocky and Bullwinkle. While I was born about eleven years too late to catch Roger Ramjet when it first aired, I did catch occasional episodes on Cartoon Network while I was in college, and actually found it much funnier than Rocky and Bullwinkle (again, a show it had no connection with). Luckily, you can catch a bunch of episodes on YouTube, and I highly recommend that you do. The series featured Gary Owens (Laugh-In announcer and original voice of Space Ghost) as Roger Ramjet, the leader of a group of spunky cadets known as the American Eagles. Ramjet would often try to save the day, but ultimately he was more interested in saving his own skin. The show, as I said, sampled from the same well of humor as Rocky and Bullwinkle, but was much tighter, and much more rapid fire with its gags. Rocky and Bullwinkle's gags were constructed in such a way that one could clearly see the set up, and the punchline that followed. As funny as that show was, its pacing was actually very methodical. Roger Ramjet, by contrast, would overload every line with several gags, sometimes eschewing its limited animation and instead simply having the characters' words flash onto the screen. There was never any lesson learned in any of the episodes, at least none parent's would want kids to remember. It was, essentially, a satire of so-called heroism, the story of a man who wants to save the day, but is really only interested in looking out for his best interests.
And what the heck, because I like you all so much I stuck a three-minute episode in after the jump. Happy viewing.
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