Recent Comments

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Alan McKee

1. is this a typical recap (narrative-based)?

What I particularly like about this is that it *isn’t* narrative-based. That’s why, I think, it is such a good example of Whedon’s genius. The recap as a format is in essence purely utilitarian, bringing the viewer up to speed with plot information from previous episodes necessary to make sense of the current one. It usually does so by cutting together expository dialogue, with little interest in humour, characterization, visual pleasure, or the traditional rules of what constitutes good editing. Joss Whedon, typically, saw the potential to do something different. As with all of his best work, this recap is at once purely generic – here is what has happened previously on Buffy, clips edited together – and, at the same time, staggeringly innovative. You are not presented with the plot information you need to make sense of the upcoming episode; rather you’re presented with the emotional context that will add to the richness of this episode of Buffy. What do you need to know before you watch ‘The Gift’? You need to know that this is the end of the season, and that it is the end of an era (nothing will ever quite be the same again in Buffy, in seasons 6 and 7, even when she comes back to the dead). This is a climax, things are heating up, getting faster, running out of control. So let’s build a recap that tells you this.

2. The move to snackness Culture is becoming more dense - but at the same time, don’t forget that the total Buffy text is 144 episodes - over 100 hours - long. We have no need to worry about ‘short attention spans’!

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Jonathan Gray

Even Buffy’s regular intro sequence is a tour de force of editing — I challenge anyone to count the number of shots in it with the naked eye. In 30 seconds or whatever, it introduces us to multiple characters, inter-relationships, themes, motivations, etc. It really is the ideal defense against those who feel images and fast-editing have killed information acquisition (you know: “Grumble, grumble, MTV generation, grumble, grumble ADHD”).

In that context, I see this clip as Whedon playing with his intro. Certainly, that intro plays a large role in Buffy fandom: a while back, I tried to get the Buffy intro on Youtube and had to first wade through about 50 fan-made intros, where they pieced together their own favorite clips of the characters. It seems to function something like a sports fan chant, or another highly ritualized moment of textual announcement.

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Jonathan Gray

If 3-camera shows are struggling, I wouldn’t blame/thank reality TV, YouTube, DVDs, iPods, etc. — rather, I think a whole host of parodies have really made it a hard form to pull off. The Simpsons made fast work of the family sitcom; Scrubs has played with the workplace sitcom with skill; and several other shows have made many 3-camera sitcoms look so uncomfortably old and naive. Parody has long been seen as a driving force behind generic innovation, and maybe it’s finally helping us to kick the 50 year habit. But as NBC’s Thursday night lineup shows, the sitcom is all the stronger for the development (I find it so nice to have 4 comedies in a row that avoid telling me when to laugh with a laughtrack, for instance; and I like more than 2 sets; etc.). So no death — just a new type of existence (like the detective show post-CSI with CGI, or, more to the point, post-Wire, with serialization)

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How coincidental. I was just reading Wired Magazine and this months issue focuses on “Snackness” which they take to mean the increasingly short presentation cycle, and they have a short blurb about the “recap” and its lineage in American television.

This seems to me to be a particular art form, compressing narrative into a short time period, that as Wired, and your comment point out, are in part descriptive of this media moment. (A good size for a YouTube clip seems to be under 5 minutes.) So, the ability to produce this style of narrative becomes ever more important. And, as fast and reductive as it can seem, it is actually informed by a labor intensive, highly mediated process. So on the one hand you have a shortening of the cycle of the clip, but on the other you actually spend more time per second producing a clip.

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Jeremy Butler

Best example of Eisensteinian montage I’ve seen in a long time!

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Sharon Shahaf

For a better quality of this and other clips from the Israeli “So U Think” please go directly to http://www.keshet-tv.com/borndancer/lobbyvideo.aspx This is the “video lobby” for the show on the broadcaster’s website. Unfortunately it only works with Explorer browser (and possibly only with PC computers) and…it’s in Hebrew. But fear not - To watch clips you can scroll down a little and click on any od the smaller windows (on the right of the little video screen). To get to this particular clip, select program 16 (on the orange drop down menu on the far right side) and scroll down to the very last clip from that show. Good luck and feel free to email me with questions. Sharon

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oops, sorry, hit a button and you submit! … Anyways, I couldn’t tell if it was a shot I just didn’t notice, but it was rather pronounced in the one game I saw.

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Jeremy: Oh, yes, and I can see why that is a success. I have been doing more travel these days and my video iPod has replayed many episodes of The Office because it almost seems tailored for individual address and close analysis.

The High Def issue is especially interesting since I had yet to experience it until a few months ago at my Sister’s house. My Brother In-Law purchased a HD TV and it was interesting to watch sports. The “individual-blades-of-grass” rack focus was a shot I remember seeing, but honestly I couldn’t tell if this was someth

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Jeremy Butler

Tim: As you may have heard, The Office was an early success for NBC on iTunes.

Which raises an interesting issue for visually inventive sitcoms: How well will they fair on the itty-bitty iPod screen? Directors like Ken Kwapis (who’s done Larry Sanders, Malcolm, Office, etc.) are drawn in two directions these days. They’re asked to fill the screen with details for high-def broadcasts and they’re asked to dumb things down so that the program will play well on small screens, with reduced definition.

The next few years are going to be very interesting ones for television…

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Michael: Oh yeah, I understand, but I do wonder about cultural relevance of this style, which, I must admit, I long for at times (just like the occasional Blockbuster).

Allow me to throw in one idea around about this issue of style: in the era of DVRs and video iPods more subtle forms of comedy can find a larger place at the table than it once did. In what was a genre known for broad humor and catchphrases, I look at sitcoms like Arrested Development, The Office and the like as sitcoms designed to have high “replay value”. I know I often replay Office episodes at least more than once as many of the jokes have punchlines that are as simple as a raised eyebrow or the onlooking presence of specific character in the back of the frame, i.e. things I don’t get when my girlfriend’s kids are demanding my attention. These shows seem written for DVD sales: disposable they are not.