(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘television

“Books have a unique way of stopping time in a particular moment”*…

From Johannes Enevoldsen (@JohsEnevoldsen), a clock based on excerpts from books: “Literature Clock” (inspired by Jaap MeijersE-reader clock).

* Dave Eggers

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As we tell time that’s been told, we might recall that it was on this date in 1959 that Jay Ward‘s animated series Rocky and Friends premiered on ABC; it ran on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, following American Bandstand at 5:30 p.m. ET, where it was the highest-rated daytime network program.

Featuring the adventure of the titular flying squirrel and his companion, Bullwinkle the Moose (in an on-going struggle against Russian-like spies Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, both working for the Nazi-like dictator Fearless Leader), the show also contained supporting segments include “Dudley Do-Right” (a parody of old-time melodrama), “Peabody’s Improbable History” (a dog named Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman traveling through time), and “Fractured Fairy Tales” (a modern retelling of fables and folk lore).

The show featured quality writing and wry humor, mixing puns, cultural and topical satire, and self-referential humor in a way that appealed to adults as well as children. Indeed, in 1961, the series, re-titled The Bullwinkle Show, moved to NBC as the lead-in to Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. Though it suffered from competition from Lassie, it ran through 1964… after which it moved into syndication, where it remains to this day.

The series was hugely influential on other animated series, from The Simpsons to Rocko’s Modern Life. In 2013, Rocky and His Friends/The Bullwinkle Show was ranked the sixth-greatest television cartoon of all time by TV Guide… in your correspondent’s view, an under-appreciation.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

November 19, 2022 at 1:00 am

“Toys are intriguing… they represent one way that society socializes its young”*…

And, as Greg Daugherty explains, that process was accelerated in the second half of the last century…

World War II gave rise to countless innovations that would change American life for decades to come—from the rugged Jeep, to mass-produced penicillin, to the terrifying atomic bomb. But, ironically enough, few U.S. industries were more profoundly affected by the war than the toy business.

Not only were toy and game designers and makers able to take advantage of the latest scientific advances, such as colorful and inexpensive plastics; they also benefited from two other post-war trends. The baby boom—more than 76 million kids born between 1946 and 1964—offered them record numbers of potential customers. And television, little more than a novelty before the war, soon made it possible to demonstrate the latest playthings to millions of kids at a time. Little wonder that toy sales grew from $84 million in 1940 to $900 million by 1953 and into the billions of dollars in by the early 1960s…

The ascendance of plastics and television forever changed an industry– and our culture: “How Toys Changed After World War II,” from @GregDaugherty1 in @HISTORY.

Mr. McGuire : I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.

Benjamin : Yes, sir.

Mr. McGuire : Are you listening?

Benjamin : Yes, I am.

Mr. McGuire : Plastics.

Benjamin : Exactly how do you mean?

Mr. McGuire : There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?

From The Graduate, written by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry (from the novel by Charles Webb); directed by Mike Nichols

* David Levinthal (a photographer whose work centers toys)

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As we play, we might note that today is the celebration of the 2022 inductees into the Toy Hall of Fame at the Strong National Museum of Play… two of the three honorees are plastic toys heavily advertised on television in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

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November 12, 2022 at 1:00 am

“The horror! The horror!”

Tis the season, thus time for seasonal specials. Indeed, since 1990, those fabulous folks behind The Simpsons have given us annual installments of what’s become a beloved Halloween tradition: The Treehouse of Horror, a collection of wonderful riffs on horror and sci-fi films/shows/tropes that never fails to delight.

Enthusiasts have created beaucoup “best of” lists (see here and here, for a couple of examples). Now, just in time (this year’s installment airs tonight), Bo McCready has created a terrific resource: a comprehensive run-down of the source/inspiration of each Treehouse of Horror segment– in infographic form. A small excerpt:

See it all at “Treehouse of Horror: 100+ Simpsons Halloween Stories!” from @boknowsdata.

Apposite: “Run for your life, Charlie Brown.”

* Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

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As we trick and treat, we might recall that it was on this date in 1938 that the Mercury Theater broadcast the Halloween episode of its weekly series on the WABC Radio Network, Orson Welle’s adaptation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds.  The first two-thirds of the show (which was uninterrupted by ads) was composed of simulated news bulletins… which suggested to many listeners that a real Martian invasion was underway.  (While headlines like the one below suggest that there was widespread panic, research reveals that the fright was more subdued.  Still there was an out-cry against the “phoney-news” format…  and Welles was launched into the notoriety that would characterize his career ever after.)

Coverage of the broadcast

Written by (Roughly) Daily

October 30, 2022 at 1:00 am

“In the deepest sense the search for extraterrestrial intelligence is a search for ourselves”*…

Will the monumental moment of first contact fuel division among war-hungry humanity, or will it inspire our better angels and unite us? Becky Ferreira considers…

Do intelligent aliens exist somewhere out there in the universe? It is a grand mystery that has captivated humans for generations, fueling ever-more sophisticated searches of the skies for signs of advanced civilizations. But while aliens have taken many forms in our imaginations—from hostile invaders to inscrutable ciphers—we have absolutely no idea what extraterrestrial life-forms might look like, how they would communicate, or even if they exist at all.

We can, however, make some assumptions about the only intelligent space-faring species that we know of—humans—and how we might react to contact with an alien civilization. Indeed, people have spent decades developing protocols that attempt to anticipate this momentous event and all of the extraordinary potential consequences it could have on our civilization. It’s an especially important question now, as the world appears more strongly divided than at any time in recent memory, with major powers taking on increasingly antagonistic stances toward each other. 

In 2020, a pair of researchers dug into this question in an article in Space Policy by suggesting that humans might pose as big a risk to ourselves in the aftermath of alien contact as any extraterrestrial species…

The potential consequences of first contact: “Scientists Are Gaming Out What Humanity Will Do If Aliens Make Contact,” from @beckyferreira in @VICE.

* Carl Sagan

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As we listen carefully, we might note that today is the (fictional) birthday of ALF (Alien Life Form), from the 1980s TV series of the same name; he was born on this date in 1756 on the planet Melmac. ALF follows an amateur radio signal to Earth and crash-lands into the garage of the Tanners, a suburban middle-class family who live in the San Fernando Valley area of California. While largely a sit-com, it wove thematic threads (that echo that echo films like The Day the Earth Stood Still and ET) to explore exactly the issues raised in the piece linked above.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

October 28, 2022 at 1:00 am

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