Editor, Missouri Policy Journal. Chair, Department of Public Affairs & Administration. Professor of Political Science & Public Administration. Lindenwood University.
Is it Possible to develop a good "feel" for a TV show from the first few episodes?
It is possible to look back after the first season of a show and develop a feeling that it was a good show, or even after several seasons. But, when a show first appears on TV and all that exists are those first few episodes, maybe no more than the first two or three, then what type of opinions can develop about it? It is possible to talk about a "tipping point" what something starts to take off, but here, at the beginning, the tipping point might not yet have been reached. Early on character development, character interaction, plots, story lines might be seen in different ways then might be the case after the show has been on for a longer period. When a show has been on for a season or more, the audience has more of a history to draw upon in how they see character interaction and plots develop, that is not there with only a few episodes. Those first few episodes can begin to lay the foundation for what is to come and, perhaps, it is how the audience speculates about where they think the show and its characters might be headed that matters in determining if viewers see a show as having the potential to be a good show.
Is it possible to like Gone With The Wind while still realizing the often Mythic Image of the South it Presents?
Gone With The Wind (1939) can be seen as a good movie. But, at the same time, it presents an image of the South which was never true in the first place and which presents slavery in almost passing reference ways. There is this time before the Civil War where, we are to believe, that the South had an ideal existence. Seeing the movie from the present, makes one quite aware of what is left out and glossed over and makes one want to go "Wait! Stop! Go back!" How can we and should evaluate the movie today?
Sharknado: Camp on TV
Sharknado is suppose to end its run on TV with the release of the sixth in the series of made-for-TV movies. These movies can best be described as "camp" which might express the poor quality yet, at times, hard to resist desire (or curiosity) to watch them. Camp and television have had a long relationship, with shows such as Batman and Gilligan’s Island in the 1960s to Charlie’s Angels and CHiPs in the 1970s and 1980s best described as camp. What is it that attracts viewers to camp TV? Is there a clear dividing line between comedy and camp?
How have TV Westerns changed since the 1950s and 1960s?
Hell on Wheels (2016) with Colm Meaney and Deadwood (2006) with Timothy Olyphant represent a scattering of western shows over the past decade or so. In the year 1959, for example, there was Rawhide (with Clint Eastwood), The Californians (with Richard Coogan), The Rifleman (with Chuck Connors) and Bonanza (with Lorne Greene) and several more. What changes have taken place to reflect greater sensitivity to issues that were not always addressed in earlier Westerns? Is it possible to say that more recent TV Westerns have improved upon earlier ones? If so, in what ways?
The Enduring Three Stooges
Moe, Larry, and Curly (forget Shemp, Joe Besser, Curly Joe) made movies between 1934 and 1946 and still are popular today. Almost anywhere in the country a TV station is running Three Stooges short movies. A song called "The Curly Shuffle" was made in 1983. Sam in the TV series Cheers frequently referred to the Three Stooges. MASH had an episode in which three Korean doctors were referred to as Moe, Larry, and Curly. A movie was made in 2012 and one is scheduled to begin production in 2018. Why is there such an enduring affection for these three characters more than seven decades after Moe, Larry, and Curly made their last short movie?
The End: How TV Shows End, the Good and the Bad
Seinfeld ended oddly, it was difficult to feel as though the main characters were likable, Medium ended with a feeling of completion, and The Sopranos ended with a feeling of ambiguity (essentially choose what happened). Is there a good ending? Can they be done differently?
Tweeting: When it Matters
This will certainly be Donald Trump’s legacy: He elevated it to a level where it cannot be ignored. But all tweeting is not the same: Some tweets carry more impact than others. Is it only because of who is doing the tweeting or is there more to it? Are there ways of tweeting where the one tweeting can increase their chances of it mattering? Part of issue here is developing a method to study the impact.
Dirty Harry: A Guilty Pleasure where the Simple Solution Persists
Clint Eastwood in five movies between 1971 and 1988 (Dirty Harry, Magnum Force, The Enforcer, Sudden Impact, The Dead Pool) did what has to be seen as a guilty pleasure: Here was the law dispensing justice in a way that often bypassed the complexities of the legal process and in the end the problem was solved. Villains came across in these movies often as caricatures where the audience could easily get behind Harry as he did his thing. When looking at these movies from the present, in one way, they seem to come from a different era, a different time, yet, at the same time, the simplicity of justice seems to echo Donald Trump’s approach to basically any policy he wants to address: There will be no consequences, we do something and suddenly the problem is solved and America is a better place. If only things were that simple, the Dirty Harry legacy lives on.
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