Just TV

Teaching now and preparing for next year in Germany

As is my tradition, I’ve waited until the last possible moment to complete the syllabi and course sites for my classes this semester, both of which start meeting tomorrow. I’m teaching Television and American Culture, my annual fall ritual, and a new version of my course on narrative theory, Storytelling in Film & Media. Both syllabi are online, and free for browsing and poaching. ... read more »

Rewatching Breaking Bad

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 »

On Disliking Mad Men

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 »

Expanded fair use rights for everyone!

It’s been a summer of minimal blogging, what with various family plans, media consumption, and household tasks. I do have a number of posts in the planning stage, and a longer essay drafted that will appear here soon. But yesterday a bit of news arrived that mandated a return to blogging. ... read more »

Fiske Matters

I am writing from a classroom that I spent many hours in in the 1990s, in Vilas Hall at University of Wisconsin. The occasion is Fiske Matters, a conference in honor of the ten-year anniversary of John Fiske’s retirement from academia. John was one of my graduate school mentors, and a key touchstone in both my research and teaching – and for those who don’t know the discipline, he is one of the major figures in creating the field of media studies in American in the 1980s. ... read more »

Anatomy of an Unpublished Chapter

The following post is only tangentially about television, being about the state of academic publishing as seen through the lens of one essay of mine (which happens to be about the television show Veronica Mars). So if you read this blog primarily for television thoughts and are not interested in the politics of academic publishing in the digital age, you might not want to click through… ... read more »

Lost’s Lingering Questions

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 »

Which Lost Character Matches Your Fandom?

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 »

A Lost Week of Questioning Answers

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 »

One month with an iPad

I received my iPad on April 8. Since then, many people have asked how I like it – my common response is that it’s too soon to tell what I’ll actually do with it. Unlike most technologies, the iPad doesn’t neatly fit into preexisting categories of practice and expectation, and like most technologies, there are unanticipated uses. Now after around a month, I feel qualified to assess what it is and how it fits into my digital life. ... read more »