Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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It’s All About Me: Prepping for the World Series of Pop Culture, Pt. 1

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on March 13, 2007

The Good Dr. does not exactly lead the glamorous life–however, every once in a while, something happens to him that is worth telling people besides his parents about.

So yeah, that VH1 show I’m sure you’ve all heard so much about is filming in about a week–nine days, to be exact–so crunch time has officially begun. Now, I’ve been prepping for this thing since I first heard we were approved for audition. I live in a highly-concentrated world of pop culture regardless, but I’ve definitely stepped it up since–me and the two teammates have been sending each other quizzes, freebasing Wikipedia entries and gorging on IMDB news every day since that fateful e-mail.

However, this is the week that we (or I, at least, and they better be doing fucking likewise) go into pop culture overdrive. And the timing actually worked out perfectly for it, since I’m home on spring break this week–unlike the great majority of my friends, almost all of which are either off next week or going somewhere else, leaving my alone in my basement with my big-ass TV and at least 300 channels of digital cable. And needless to say, I’m making the most of it.

Now, there are generally three categories covered in the World Series–music, movies and TV. Music is the one I’m focusing on the least, as it’s the one I already pretty much have the most down, and for some reason it’s also the subject VH1 asks the least about (whatever happened to Video Hits First, guys?). But it’s open season on movies and TV, and I’ve been scouring the cable 24 hours a day trying to get exposure to shitty “classic” comedies and/or action movies that I was never desperate enough to watch, as well as shitty “classic” TV shows whose existence I never would never even have humored 12 months ago.

The consequences (and implications) of this are interesting. I find myself flipping to channels I had no idea were even there, corners of the TV universe that I had somehow managed to avoid up until now, and making realtively, uh, uncharacteristic statements like “Aw, why isn’t The Jerk on this week?” or “Hey, two episodes in a row of Growing Pains on IGO!” (????) In the past 24 hours, I have watched:

  1. The first hour of Domino (Tony Scott, rock on)
  2. Two episodes of Home Improvement (show suuuuuuuuucks)
  3. Most of an episode of NewsRadio (Not nearly as funny as the cult would have you believe, though maybe I caught it on an off episode)
  4. An episode of Family Ties (Justine Bateman is actually even hotter now than she was 20 years ago, though the seeds are definitely there. Also, Michael J. Fox is short–like, really short)
  5. Half an episode of Spin City (Cameron Frye, Connie Britton and Larry David’s faux-cousin, rock on)
  6. An episode of The Brady Bunch (Were all episodes this Christopher Knight-centric?)
  7. About three minutes of Saved By the Bell: The College Years (Mark-Paul Gosselaar, thy beauty is timeless)
  8. The entirety of Caddyshack (What the hell would the 80s have done without Kenny Loggins?)
  9. An episode of Good Times (Jimmie Walker looks almost exactly like Dave Chappelle. Seriously, check the mouth, it’s eerie)
  10. Twenty minutes and counting of Hanging With Mr. Cooper (I’m pretty sure it’s the pilot ep–Alan Thicke even shows up at the beginning of the episode to pass the torch)
  11. And all of A Scanner Darkly, though that was just for me.

Through this process, two things have become abundantly clear to me. The first: Prior to the premiere of Seinfeld, non-animated comedy that was actually funny simply did not exist on American television. Sure, there are interesting lessons to learned from most of these shows, about overcoming sibling rivalry, taking personal responsibility, and waiting at least three seconds after each marginally funny joke to make sure it really lands properly, among other things. But there are no laughs to be had in these shows. Not one. In fact, the only show to even make me chuckle was Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, which, uncoincidentally, debuted the same year as Seinfeld–not the funniest of shows, but I figure that every year post-Seinfeld premiering, the median TV sitcom increased slightly in funniness, taking Mr. Cooper from 0 to about 3-5% worth of laughs.

And the second thing I’ve gleaned is that I don’t like losing. I really, really have a distaste for it. I’ve understood this for some time, of course, but it hadn’t hit me for a while, until I recently lost a Super Smash Brothers. in about 9th or 10th place. It was still fun, and it wasn’t a bad or humiliating loss, but the only thing I could think of on the way home was man, that was all right, but it really would’ve been so much more fun if I had won. The difference between winning and losing–it’s remarkable. And the fear of it is more than enough for me to devote this week, at the very least, to watching some of the most uninspiring programming ever unleashed on the American TV-watching public.

Not that I really would be doing anything more inspiring if I didn’t have this hanging over me. In fact, this seems like pretty much the optimal way to spend possibly my last virtually responsibility-free Spring Break. Still, I can’t help but wonder what knowledge about actually worthwhile pieces of art and entertainment I’m pushing out with all this new knowledge–by the next time you see me, I might have forgotten how “Sister Ray” goes, but I guarantee you I’ll be able to name all four Keaton kids as well as who play them. Did you know the youngest one was also the star of Blank Check? Classic movie.

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6 Responses to “It’s All About Me: Prepping for the World Series of Pop Culture, Pt. 1”

  1. Anton said

    Caddyshack is always the answer. Anyone who reads this and thinks it is a dumb comment may promptly fuck themselves. There’s a story, and a good one at that.

    Also, I’m noticing on your list a slight undernourishment in the significantly pre-Seinfeld black sitcom department. Please consult Chapelle’s “I Know Black People” skit.

  2. […] Recent Blog Posts Norah Jones March 13, 2007 10:42 pm INFINITY ON HIGH 9 ROBIN THICKE STAR TRAK /INTERSCOPE -THE EVOLUTION OF ROBIN THICKE 10 KORN VIRGIN ? MTV UNPLUGGED. Thinking About You – Norah Jones Sempre, sempre e sempre? 2004? ???CHART 05, SUNRISE, NORAH JONES. 06, CH-CHECK IT OUT, …The Notorious BIG Edges Out Arcade Fire For #1 Sales Spot 6 RELIENT K CAPITOL ? FIVE SCORE & SEVEN YEARS AGO 7 NORAH JONES BLUE NOTE /BNLG ? NOT TOO LATE 8 FALL OUT BOY ISLAND/IDJMG ? INFINITY ON HIGH 9 ROBIN THICKE STAR TRAK /INTERSCOPE -THE EVOLUTION OF ROBIN THICKE …JENNIFER HUDSON GETS FREE BURGER KING FOREVER Singer and songwriter Robin Thicke is still raking in praise for his sophomore album, The Evolution Of Robin Thicke, and its current single ?Lost Without U.? Both have topped their respective R&B charts, and Thick performed the tune on …Thicke March 13, 2007 8:12 pm Last year, Timberlake?s contemporaries Robin Thicke and Ciara both released albums called?The Evolution.?It?sa wonder that Timberlake didn?t join them. For full event information,. HSAN To Educate Youth In Houston During? …It?s All About Me: Prepping for the World Series of Pop Culture, Pt. 1 Cooper (I?m pretty sure it?s the pilot ep?Alan Thicke even shows up at the beginning of the episode to pass the torch); And all of A Scanner Darkly, though that was just for me. Through this process, two things have become abundantly … […]

  3. Victor said

    I must provide a dissenting opinion on the matter of the lack of sitcomedy in the pre-Seinfeld era, five simple words: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

  4. Victor said

    Also it’s kind of creepy how much that guy in the picture looks like me.

  5. Brook said

    “Prior to the premiere of Seinfeld, non-animated comedy that was actually funny simply did not exist on American television.”

    You need only watch a few episodes of Mary Tyler Moore to know this is not true.

  6. […] As part of my pop culture prepping over Spring Break, I watched my first ever episode of Beverly Hills, 90210–four of them in fact, since it was shown twice a day on the SOAP channel (one of the many channels whose existence I first discovered had existed in my digital cable all along). And though I avoided it like the plague during its original run, I gotta say, it wasn’t bad. I only caught some of the mid-run episodes (meaning there was Tiffany Amber-Thiessen instead of Shannon Doherty, which seems like about an even trade) so it probably wasn’t even classic 90210, but all the elements for good primetime soapiness were there–exotic locale, drama-heightened situations which ring with just the right combination of authenticity and implausibility, and beautiful, beautiful stars. Still, the whole time, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the show was missing something. […]

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