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August 31, 2015


TV 101: Arise, Serpentor, Arise!

by Jay Black, posted May 4th 2009 2:03PM
I've got two for this one: 1) This, I command! Or 2) Cobra LaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaGenerally speaking, if your doctor is wearing purple pants, metal studded suspenders, a blue cape, and no shirt, it's probably best to regard him with a healthy degree of suspicion. Cobra Commander learned this the hard way at the start of the second season of G.I. Joe, when his own shirtless, cape-wearing science officer, Dr. Mindbender, usurped his authority by crafting the ultimate COBRA leader: Serpentor.

Serpentor was grown out of genetic gumbo: by taking the DNA of history's greatest leaders and mixing them all together, Mindbender hoped to create the perfect ruler (or at least one that didn't always call him "Fender-Bender.")

Alas, as is so often the case, Mindbender's plan was thrown off when he was forced to substitute Sun Tzu's DNA with that of professional wrestler Sgt. Slaughter. Because of this, Serpentor was cursed with impatience, a fatal flaw G.I. Joe was able to use against him time and time again.

Even though Mindbender failed with his Serpentor, creating the "Serpentor of [insert profession here]" is still one of my favorite games...

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TV 101: Thirteen undeniable truths about TV

by Jay Black, posted Apr 1st 2009 11:05AM
I could have gone with a lot of pictures, but I figured a hot cylon was the way to go.Some things you never wanted to know about me, but that I'm going to tell you anyway: I'm 32 years old, 6'3" tall, and I weigh 235 hairy, pasty pounds. I have a weak chin and very strong glasses. I'm not balding (yet!) but I've got a head reminiscent of The Leader from the Incredible Hulk comics. Seriously, in a pinch, Sully Sullenburger could land a jet on my forehead.

Looking at myself in the mirror after a shower the other day, I came to some realizations. I'll probably never play in the NBA. It's doubtful that a woman will ever use me Brad-Pitt-in-Thelma-and-Louise style. Should my comedy career catch fire, it will be more Ray Romano than Dane Cook.

These are the facts and they are undisputed.

In the spirit of my heartbreaking realizations, I figured I'd list some of the sad (but undeniable) truths about television ...

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TV 101: Why we need public figures who lie to us (and how TV screws that up!)

by Jay Black, posted Mar 11th 2009 10:02AM
I am so gonna ponder the hell out of you!Because I tend to hang out with mostly hobos and philosophy majors, about 90% of my conversations wind up in hypotheticals about the kind of superpower I would most want. While I don't yet have an answer to that worked out, I have figured out the superpower I would least want: mind reading.

Think about just how awful it would be to read another person's thoughts:

You would know for certain that your wife fantasizes about other people in bed (probably your friends). You would know for sure that your father doesn't brag to his friends about the $110 a month you make as a semi-professional blogger. You would know just exactly what websites your husband is looking at with the "private browsing" function turned on in Safari (and you would be blinded by them).

It would be horrible. And that's just the kind of world TV is making for us.

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TV 101: How to fix the Backyardigans (OR: Teach your children well...)

by Jay Black, posted Feb 25th 2009 11:55AM
Just what the hell is Uniqua? Seriously?I have a 19 month-old son named Keane Black who has recently graduated from a boob-obsessed pink blob into a happy-go-lucky toddler. (Little does he know that, if he follows his father's path, he's only a few decades away from regressing back into a boob-obsessed pink blob, except this time with back hair).

The transition has been great for me because it means that my son and I are now actually able to do things together: we play ball, we color, and we watch TV.

Babies are greedy in the sense that my son seems to have no interest in watching PTI (regardless of how many times I explain to him the myriad delights of LeBatard). Thus, when we watch together, we're stuck watching his shows, specifically his all-time favorite, The Backyardigans.

While I've grown to enjoy the show, it's occurred to me there are several ways that it can be made a more effective educational device..

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TV 101: Why Howard Stern is the best role model on TV

by Jay Black, posted Feb 4th 2009 11:03AM
Howard SternMichael Phelps recently went from big-time role-model to big-eared pothead in about the time it took for some d-bag with a cameraphone to press "send."

This got me thinking about role models in general. Like it or not, most of us wind up choosing role models from television, probably because we see the people on TV more often than we do our own family. Considering the amount of alcohol-fueled Thanksgiving fistfights in my own family, that's probably for the best.

So, seeing as my son is going to be raised by TV, I decided that I needed to pick out the best role model on it. My choice?

Howard Stern.

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TV 101: The inauguration running diary (OR: History huddled together like a gaggle of newborn puppies)

by Jay Black, posted Jan 21st 2009 10:03AM
The Dean and the Duh.I've been waiting a long time for a piece of history big enough to justify writing a running diary for this column. I thought I had it when Rock of Love: Tour Bus was announced (has one show ever advanced the cause of dimwitted, surgically-enhanced skanks more than this one?), but my editors wanted to wait until we had something just a little bit bigger.

It occurred to me last fall that Barack Obama being inaugurated would be a pretty big deal. So I called some of my friends in the liberal media and asked them to arrange for Obama to win the election, then waited patiently until yesterday. Now, after months of waiting, we're ready to roll.

The running diary starts after the jump...

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TV 101: Why Leo Laporte represents the future of TV (kinda) - VIDEO

by Jay Black, posted Jan 7th 2009 1:03PM
Man of the future? Or just well-produced nonsense-ary?Seeing as this is the new year and all, I figured today's column would concentrate on the future. My original plan was to write extensively about what television will become following the detonation of the Yellowstone supervolcano -- who's ready for static?! -- but in the spirit of Hope (tm), I scratched that in favor of something a bit more positive.

My guess is that the numbers break down this way: 90% of you have no idea at all who Leo Laporte is, 7% kinda sorta remember him from the ill-fated ZDNET cable channel, and 2% of you are TWitTs like me. (The other one percent? Spambots worried about my "girth").

It's time to get to know Leo, because over the last year he has single-handedly created a brand-new paradigm for how TV is going to be viewed on the net ... kinda.

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TV 101: The true meaning of TV Christmas specials (OR: You're a mean one, Mr. Black)

by Jay Black, posted Dec 24th 2008 12:03PM
See, a public domain alternative to the real thing is just as good... right?If there's one universal among TV Christmas specials it's this: they all seem to want to tell you what the "true" meaning of Christmas is. There are so many specials trying to explain the true meaning of Christmas, it actually makes you wonder if the power of TV to influence has been exaggerated. I mean, you'd think after watching approximately eleventy-five billion hours of holiday programming, we'd have gotten the point already.

Perhaps the reason why America continues to view Christmas less as a time for spiritual reflection than as one for reindeer sweaters, crass consumerism, and suicide contemplation is because our Christmas specials aren't really sending the messages that they claim to be. Sure, on the surface we're told about "peace on earth and goodwill to men, blah blah blah", but there's a bubbling subtext in these specials if you only look hard enough.

I've decided to put my New Jersey state college English degree to good use and break down what Christmas specials are really saying...

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TV 101: An open letter to TV executives about why you should stop worrying and learn to love PIRACY

by Jay Black, posted Dec 10th 2008 11:03AM
Oh, you went as me for Halloween? How creative.Hey TV executives, it's me your good pal Jay Black. Maybe you remember me from my one man "Bring Back ALF" letter-writing campaign? If not, that's okay. I'm just happy that we're talking like this and not through Yvonne Strahovski's lawyers like last time.

As you can probably tell, I spend a lot of time thinking about you guys and your tough job of coming up with so many creative shows. I don't envy your having to sort through pile after pile of successful European reality shows trying to find one uncomplicated enough for American audiences. I don't know how you do it!

I'll be honest with you, I'm worried about the future of your industry. I know you're worried too. You think that if you don't act fast to counter all those people pirating your content that you'll wind up like your good buddies over in the music industry. I don't want that to happen to you, so that's why I'm writing this letter: TV, you can save yourself if you don't fight piracy, but rather embrace it.

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TV 101: How Friends caused the current financial crisis (OR: Say it ain't so, Joe the Actor)

by Jay Black, posted Nov 12th 2008 2:06PM
That bed cost $18,000.If you haven't heard, the country is in a recession and things are getting bad. I spend every afternoon watching CNBC and weeping. My father, who deals in real estate, calls me every night just to scream and babble incoherently. My wife splits her time between loading up the Model T to head out west Californee-way and burning our quarterly financial statements for warmth.

We're on an economic roller coaster right now, and I don't mean a reputable roller coaster like at Six Flags. We're talking one of those death-trap coasters that even the carnies won't ride. The depressing thing is that the whole bag of crap we're in right now just seemed to come out of nowhere, like the last season of Roseanne. How did we get here? Why is this all happening now?

You might be tempted to blame the usual suspects: the president, the congress, the Stone-Cutters. But you'd be wrong. The real culprit behind this whole problems is Friends.

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TV 101: Celeb-Security (OR: Another fool-proof plan to save the world!)

by Jay Black, posted Jun 12th 2008 10:02AM
The big cube of death.Judging from the amount of hyperbole being used each day on The Drudge Report, it appears that the nation might be sliding into an economic downturn. While a lot of you might be worried about this, I'm completely confident that the current presidential brain-trust will solve the problem and in no way will it lame-duck its way through the next seven months, leaving the economy's problems for the next poor schlub who gets elected.

So while most of the big media outlets focus on silly, soon-to-be-solved problems like "the economy." I've moved on to bigger and better things. In fact, I believe I have found the number one problem facing the next president and some practical advice on how he might be able to fix it. This is a problem that affects democrats and republicans, the rich and the poor, the old and the young, the black and the white. I'm talking, of course, about...

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TV 101: Five VERY SPECIAL EPISODES that saved society - VIDEOS

by Jay Black, posted Apr 18th 2008 10:58AM
Estrogen? Yeah, I'm pretty sure we both need that.There's no denying it: we're currently living in a utopia. Not a day goes by that I don't thank my lucky stars that I get to live in the greatest country on earth during the greatest time to be alive. I think even the harshest critic of the current world order would agree with me when I say that there's not a single problem anywhere in the world that anyone is dealing with.

But how did we get here? What was the spark that spurred us from barely cognizant man-apes into the enlightened, elegant creatures that we are today? Look no further than that great black monolith sitting in your living room: your TV. Five VERY SPECIAL EPISODES that saved society after the jump...

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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: 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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