Posts Tagged "humor"

The Terrible Writing of Star Trek

Published on July 29, 2011

This afternoon, I finished season 2 of the original Star Trek series. The last few episodes of this season are incredibly bad, even by 1960’s-era science fiction standards. What really gets me about the last few episodes, is the feeling that they were written by grumpy old men, unhappy with the political climate at the time. Let’s take a look at the three worst examples:

Episode 23: The Omega Glory
In this bizarre episode, Kirk finds a star-ship captain violating the prime directive. The Yangs (yanks) and Kohms (communists) are battling one another in a bizarro-world parallel-Earth scenario. Worst of all? The Yangs have their own “American” flag, and the Declaration of Independence is considered their “holy word” (which, ironically enough, is kept in a large King James Bible). Be sure to listen for the strains of “The Star Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful” every time the flag is shown.

Episode 25: Bread and Circuses
While attempting to locate a missing star-ship crew, Kirk and company stumble upon a planet whose oppressive government is a 20th-century version of Earth’s Roman empire. In the final 2 minutes of the episode, Lieutenant Uhura figures out that the “sun worshipers” (who are slaves in this world’s society) aren’t actually worshiping the sun, they’re worshiping the son of God. The “aw, shucks” sentimentality of the crew at this discovery is really misplaced and simply feels tacked on. Maybe a network exec forced the writers to put this twist in?

Episode 26: Assignment: Earth
The season finale plays on the cold war fears of the 1960s, and shows a lot of badly edited NASA footage of early Apollo-era flight tests. A stereotypical “dumb blonde” female character sums up the entirety of her generation’s shortcomings in this unforgettable scene:

Mister Seven, I want to believe you. I do. I know this world needs help. That’s why some of my generation are kind of crazy and rebels, you know. We wonder if we’re going to be alive when we’re thirty!

Is a quote like that the hallmark of an out-of-touch, angry old man, or what? “Kids these days … am I right?”

There are some other particularly annoying episodes, like Episode 22: By Any Other Name. This episode was terrific for the first 45 minutes of the 50 total. In the last few minutes, the aliens who have taken the Enterprise crew hostage simply cave in to Kirk’s reasoning for peace, totally destroying the tension that had built up to that point. I was hoping for the death and destruction of these monsters, but all they gave me was peace and harmony. This could have been a solid episode, but the ending ruined it completely.

I’m looking forward to season 3 (some of the episodes sound very interesting), but I’m boldly going forward with a grain of salt. There are bound to be rocky episodes ahead.

Thoughts on Garry Shandling’s Show

Published on January 17, 2010

Earlier today, I finished watching the fourth and final season of It’s Garry Shandling’s Show. I enjoyed the whole series so much, that I wanted to share a few thoughts on it. For those who don’t already know, It’s Garry Shandling’s Show was a sitcom that ran on the Showtime network between 1986 and 1990. In it, Garry Shandling plays himself, and is fully aware that he is a sitcom character. All of the characters around him also realize that they are a part of a television show, so the whole experience is very “meta.” Garry often involved the studio audience in the story, and each show opened and closed with a monologue. The fourth wall was broken as a rule on the show, not as an exception, so the viewer at home was usually in on every situation and joke.

What I like most about the show is how unique a premise it is, even to this day. Having the characters of the show all realize that they are on television is very clever and made for some great gags. Garry would often exploit this fact to the fullest; whether walking between sets to keep a thread going, or advancing time in silly ways to push the story forward. The supporting cast is all terrific, and the comedy outstanding. There were some episodes where I literally laughed until I cried. You gotta love a show that can do that.

The fourth season is definitely the weakest of them all. I listened to a number of episode commentaries, and it was interesting to learn that many of the writers felt the show went in the wrong direction in the fourth season. Showtime had a fairly small audience, so the show’s ratings were never terrific (even though it was nominated for, and won, a number of awards). After Fox picked up the last two seasons, ratings tanked, mostly because the show was never meant to air with commercials. Upon debuting on Fox, the show came in at number 99 out of 100 shows; only The Tracey Ullman Show was worse. Interestingly enough, during the fourth season, many of the writers from It’s Garry Shandling’s Show also went to work on a little television show called The Simpsons, which debuted in the top 5 of the ratings. It’s ironic, then, that the same writing staff would garner a top 5 rating and a 99th rating in the same year.

If you get a chance to check out this show, I highly recommend it. In some ways the show may be dated, but the humor is clever, and there are some very ground-breaking ideas. I’m greatly looking forward to checking out Garry’s subsequent show, The Larry Sanders Show.

WTF?

Published on August 17, 2009

I got the following catalog in the mail today, addressed to me:

Black Women's Fashion Catalog

I am neither female, nor am I African-American, nor do I plan on becoming either at any point in my life. Any ideas on why I received this?

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Office Season Finale

Published on May 14, 2009

Tonight’s season finale for The Office was pretty weak, in my opinion. To begin with, I was a little miffed that it wasn’t an hour long, but after the show was over, I was glad it hadn’t been. I’m not sure I could have stood another half hour of boredom. The only redeeming part of the episode was the tension between Michael and Holly. Here’s hoping that things get back on track next season!

What did you guys think?

A Funny Look at Programming Languages

Published on May 11, 2009

An article entitled A Brief, Incomplete, and Mostly Wrong History of Programming Languages offers a very humorous glimpse into the world of programming. My absolute favorite snippet from the article:

1987 – Larry Wall falls asleep and hits Larry Wall’s forehead on the keyboard. Upon waking Larry Wall decides that the string of characters on Larry Wall’s monitor isn’t random but an example program in a programming language that God wants His prophet, Larry Wall, to design. Perl is born.

It’s funny because it’s true. (Hat tip to Dustin for the pointer to this article.)

Good Times in The Office

Published on March 26, 2009

The Office has really seen a resurgence in quality over the past several weeks. I lamented once before about a perceived downward spiral for the show, but tonight’s episode was a real throwback to the good old days of seasons 2 and 3. Other recent episodes have been equally as strong, making the show a joy to watch again. Michael’s tension with his new boss Charles is truly palpable, allowing the viewer to share those awkward moments that made the early seasons so fun.

It looks as if the writers are setting things up for a huge season finale. We get to see Ryan for the first time in a while in the next episode (which is two weeks from tonight), and hilarity should ensue as Michael and Pam set out to start a new paper company. Will Michael hire Ryan as an employee in his new company? Could Holly make another appearance at the end of the season? Will the folks at Dunder-Mifflin realize that, despite his antics, Michael Scott is the right man for their company?

I can’t wait to find out.

Ground Zero

Published on February 27, 2009

Gizmodo pointed me this morning to an oh-so-wrong yet oh-so-fun Google Maps mashup, that allows you to nuke the city of your choice. Simply search for your favorite (or least-favorite) city, select your weapon, and nuke it! It was interesting to compare the blast radius of the Little Man and the more modern nuclear weapons. Suffice it to say that today’s weapons are awfully scary.

My favorite, however, is the asteroid impact. Most. Destruction. Ever.

Eye on Springfield

Published on February 2, 2009

A week or two ago, I was introduced to the Eye On Springfield blog. For a Simpsons nut like myself, the site is pure enjoyment. According to the site’s official description:

Eye On Springfield is a retrospective of Simpsons hilarity spanning from seasons 1 to 9, when it was still funny.

I would disagree with the “still funny” bit; there are plenty of classic episodes in seasons 10 through about 18, though the most recent seasons have definitely fallen off. Site posts range from scenes in an episode, sometimes with an accompanying quote, to sound clips. It’s a great site, and I highly recommend it for a laugh.

I’m also glad to see that I’m not the only one who, in the words of Patrick Cassels, has:

that annoying habit of beginning half my sentences with, “Remember that Simpsons episode where…”

David Blaine: Idiot Extraordinaire

Published on September 23, 2008

Does anyone even care about this guy anymore? His latest stunt, in which he’ll be upside down for 60 hours, might leave him blind. It’s sad to see him have to resort to stunts like this to get attention. But I guess that’s the way of things, seeing as magic lost its charm after all of those Magic’s Biggest Secrets Revealed specials.

At least he’s easy to make fun of. There are some really great David Blaine parodies on YouTube, all of which I have linked below. They really nail his demeanor and the jokes are hilarious. Mind the salty language, however. Each video is about 5 minutes long, so make sure you have some time to watch them.

Donald Trump the Comedian

Published on January 23, 2008

My mom and I are watching Larry King last night, and he’s talking with Robert Kiyosaki, a businessman and motivational speaker. The subject of conversation is the tanking US economy. Mr. Kiyosaki is wearing a hideously ugly suit and tie. On the phone with Larry and Robert is Donald Trump. The following scene ensues:

KING: Real estate is a good deal, even if you don’t have the money. Donald, what’s your feelings about the Bush administration and their handling of the crisis?

TRUMP: I think the first thing I’d do if I were the president is I’d ask Robert to go out and buy a new suit and tie. That would help the economy and it would help Robert.

Zing! Who knew The Donald had such a great sense of humor? 😀

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My Favorite xkcd Comics

Published on September 14, 2007

Earlier today I mentioned the xkcd web comic. If you aren’t familiar with the comic, I highly recommend it. It’s well worth subscribing to or bookmarking. I’ve gone through all of the comics, and have compiled a list of my favorites. Make sure you read the hidden jokes in each strip, by hovering over them with your mouse for the title attribute. Enjoy:

End of a Legend

Published on November 9, 2006

The Concerned web comic, which is based on and set in the Half-Life 2 game world, recently ended for good. It’s a shame that it had to end so soon, but the goal all along has been stated in the comic’s description (“The Life and Death of Gordon Frohman”). If you haven’t read the comic, I highly recommend it (note that you should start reading from the beginning to best appreciate it). The writing was top notch, the visuals were great, and I will sorely miss the updates that I used to look forward to.

Loving The Office

Published on October 29, 2006

Does anyone else besides me love The Office? A coworker of mine (thanks Dustin!) got me into the show, and I’m currently working through season 2 (so no spoilers, please). Season 1 was surprisingly short, and I wish it had been longer. The one thing that I enjoy most about the show is that all of the characters are incredibly believable. I mean, I feel like I could work with any of these people. None of them are overly beautiful, like most television shows where the actors are all Barbie and Ken cookie cutters. Steve Carell does an excellent job as the manager, and John Krasinski is great as Jim. Dwight is a riot, and Ryan the temp plays a good part as well.

Don’t even get me started on Pam; words simply fail me.

Update: I’ve finished season 2. All I can say is wow.

When News Breaks

Published on July 18, 2006

Checking out of the local Food Lion tonight, my eye happened to catch the second page of an opened copy of that most trusted news source, the Weekly World News. The story that happened to grace that page was one of hope, innovation, and pure genius. It seems that an enterprising woman has discovered an affordable alternative to plastic surgery. You see, having a limited income prohibited this woman from being able to realize her dream of true beauty. So she whipped up an easy, simple, and (apparently) affordable solution: using small amounts of C-4 to reshape her face. Yes, that C-4. I have to admit that the results were quite surprising. A homely woman had become a beauty queen in no time at all. She too seemed pleased:

I couldn’t be happier with the results, and my hearing should return in the next day or two.

Edit: For those not already in the know, the Weekly World News is a tabloid newspaper, but they do have a website. Unfortunately, this particular story has not yet been published there (and I’m not certain that it ever will). Maybe I’ll buy a copy of the paper and put up some scans…

The Greatest Show on Earth

Published on May 5, 2006

The Simpsons is the greatest television show of all time, regardless of what the clowns at TV Guide say. I mean, how can you go wrong with quotes like this?

Skinner: And, in a gutless act of political correctness, pizza day will now be known as Italian-American sauce bread day.
Italian Chef: Ah, now that’s a-sensitivity. Right Giuseppe? [the monkey claps…] Giuseppe is such a happy monkey!

Homer: I’m not looking for fame or glory. I’m just trying to buy that stairway to heaven Jesus sang of.
Flanders: That was Led Zeppelin.
Homer: Psh. Get back to your bong hippie.

Homer: So, a graduate student, huh? How come you guys can go to the moon but you can’t make my shoes smell good?

That kind of writing is simply classic. The greatest episode of all time? Quite possibly, Homer: Bad Man. It just doesn’t get much funnier than that.

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