I’d like to interrupt this unplanned blog hiatus – yes, it’s been one of those semesters – to give thanks for this year’s best new show: Terriers. I’d been planning on posting a blog about Terriers after a few episodes, but I’m glad I got too busy to write it, as the show has transformed into something much more engaging and powerful since then. What started out as a shaggy good time has emerged into taught double character study packing a surprise emotional wallop. ... read more »
As the summer wanes, it’s my annual time to look back at all the things I failed to accomplish. It’s been an excellent summer, marked by quality family time, enjoyable trips, house projects, and general low-stress fun (including a successful immersion into the best videogame I’ve played in a long time, Red Dead Redemption). But for many academics, summer is the designated time for getting things done that require concentrated time and attention – and in that regard, I fell short of my goals, especially in the desire to blog. ... read more »
As a scholar and fan of contemporary narratively complex television serials, one of my blindspots has been Mad Men, a show about which I’ve mentioned on this blog has little appeal to me. Thus it was a bit surprising months ago when I was invited to contribute to a forthcoming book of collected essays on the show – the editors knew that I didn’t like the show, and wanted me to write about why. I accepted the invitation as a kind of challenge, and the results are posted below. ... read more »
The finale of Lost, “The End,” has generated much online chatter, both pro and con, about its various layers of ambiguity. Many fans are griping because it neglected mythological answers in favor of showing us what happened to our characters and their relationships. And many are crying shenanigans over potential contradictions and confusion in the finale’s events, especially in the final scenes. And some are just haters, relishing the perverse pleasure found within their blackened souls. ... read more »
As I can’t seem to think about anything else, and it’s a fine distraction from grading, I’ve been engaging in a lot of conversation about Lost this week across a range of media. On Twitter this afternoon, my friend Derek Kompare commented in a discussion that no matter what the finale offers, a good portion of fans will be irate that it didn’t match up to their expectations for the faith they put into the show – and then he compared the reaction to John Locke at the end of season 2, raging against the button. ... read more »
This past week was exam week for students, which means limbo for faculty waiting for final assignments to flood in, but few scheduled obligations for my time. Alas instead of focusing on my growing to-do list of projects, I’ve spent a huge amount of time obsessing about the concluding chapters of Lost. ... read more »
In teaching my course on The Wire last year, I had my students do collaborative research & writing projects on various “contexts” that the show engages with, such as urban education, the drug war, and Baltimore history. This year, I’ve decided not to use that assignment – in part because the old projects are still online, and because I’ve thought of other assignments to try.
But I am having them read the first contextual essay from last year, one that I wrote about the relationship of the show to 21st century television. It’s nothing that warrants publication in more formal academic outlets, but I thought it would be useful pedagogically for other people teaching the show or just for a basic background for fans who might stumble upon my blog. So beneath the fold, I’m “reprinting” it here from my course site. As always, I welcome feedback and comments to improve the material. ... read more »
So thus begins season 6 of Lost. I give “LA X” two big thumbs up (one in 2004 & one in 2007!), but to read why, you need to go over to Antenna, a newish online venture out of my graduate alma mater, University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Media & Cultural Studies program. The goal of Antenna is to have brief posts by a range of authors on interesting new developments in the world of media, prompting conversations and community. I’ve happily agreed to write about Lost’s final season there, so be sure to subscribe to its feed for many great voices on a range of media.
While that post focuses on issues of narrative and fan expectations, I wanted to offer some additional commentary on how Lost’s ratings successes or failures are being discussed. ... read more »