There's a good article about The Office in The New Yorker here. Among the interesting factoids: QuÃ©bÃ©cois, French, and German networks have rolled out local versions and B. J. Novak (who plays Ryan) is one of show's writers. By the way, another article identifies Steve Carell (Michael), Mindy Kaling (Kelly), and Paul Lieberstein (Toby) as writing contributers.
While we're on the subject of religion on TV:
I've watched the first couple episodes (out of six total) of "One Punk, Under God" (trailer), a documentary/reality series about Jay Bakker (son of Jim and Tammy Faye) on the Sundance Channel. The show follows Jay and (from the World of Wonder Productions web site):
â€¦his Revolution ministry in Atlanta, as he faces the struggles of putting together a new generation of Christian punk rockers.
The 6 episodes will structure around a story arc where Jay examines and tests out a chosen Biblical scripture to discuss in his weekly sermon. We follow as he wrestles with the interpretations in his daily life, and finish the episode with his final sermon, as he preaches to his church members.
The first episode introduced us to Jay and his ministry (the Revolution church meets in a bar/music venueâ€¦The Masqueradeâ€¦in Atlanta) and focused on him coming to terms with his family's history. In the second episode, he struggles with the dilemma that if he speaks out regarding his convictions about homosexuality (he seems to have concluded that homosexuality is probably acceptable and, regardless, that the way the church engages the homosexual community is wrong) his ministry risks losing the significant funding it receives from more traditional/conservative religious groups. In the end, he speaks his mind, and the second episode leaves the viewer wondering what the fall-out will beâ€¦both for Revolution and for Jay's (non-existent) relationship with his father which he's trying to rekindle.
So far I've enjoyed it. Lke God or the Girl (on A&E, I wrote a paragraph about it here) before it, it makes for entertaining viewing and is encouragingâ€¦young, interesting people earnestly trying to make a difference for Jesusâ€¦and finding a temporary home on secular TV.
There's a nice review on Slate.
From an article of the same title by Claire Hoffman in the LA Times:
A study released Thursday by the Parents Television Council, a frequent critic of the TV industry over such issues as broadcast indecency, found that prime-time shows in the last year dealt with religion half as much as the year before. When they did, the Los Angeles-based group said, religion was cast in negative light more than one-third of the time.
The study was the council's seventh annual report on the subject. This year, the group pointed an angry finger at the Fox network, specifically such shows as "The Family Guy" and "House," that it said consistently mocked religion and people of faith. A Fox spokesman declined to comment.
...it gives reality shows high marks for showing frequent, unscripted outbursts of faith.
In "Postcards From Buster" documentary footage of children from different cultures is combined with animation of Buster and his friends. This season includes only 10 episodes, which began in November and will run through February, a far cry from the 40 produced for the show's first season.
Children first came to know Buster Baxter, the animated bunny who is the show's star, as the best friend of Arthur, the animated aardvark who is the title character of another PBS series. But most adults probably first heard of Buster in January 2005, midway into the show's first season, when word got out that an episode about maple sugaring, called "Sugartime!," would feature children in a Vermont family with two moms.
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings attacked the episode in a letter to Pat Mitchell, the former PBS president, dated Jan. 25, 2005. "Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the life-styles portrayed in this episode," she wrote. The same day PBS removed "Sugartime!" from its lineup. In the days that followed, the American Family Association, a major Christian conservative organization, orchestrated a campaign of more than 150,000 e-mail messages and letters to Ms. Spellings supporting her position, said Ed Vitagliano, a spokesman for the association.
WGBH responded by independently offering "Sugartime!" to each PBS station. It said that 57 of 349 stations broadcast the episode in March 2005, making it available to more than half of PBS viewers. But the "Sugartime!" controversy made finding funds for a second season difficult.
Perhaps surprisingly, this season continues to deal with hot-button issues. In an episode being shown today, Buster visits Fort Leonard Wood, an Army post in Missouri, to meet the family of a father who is stationed in Iraq. On Jan. 29 Buster will learn about the Mexican border, traveling with children to Tijuana from San Diego to meet their pen pals. And in the last show of the season, scheduled for Feb. 19, Buster revisits some children from the first season, whose homes in Louisiana were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
We like Postcards from Buster...a nice way for the kids to learn about different cultures and parts of the country. I'm glad its back.
The other night I was watching Hardware on BBC America. It caught my attention because it was recommended by The Week and features Martin Freeman (who I enjoyed in the original version of The Office and The Robinsons). I realized that I didn't like Hardware at all. I realized that I didn't like it because of the laugh track (or that it was a laugh-track type of show). I grew up on sitcoms like everybody else, but I've apparently evolved to the point that I can't take a laugh track. I started to think about the other shows I watch, and it's pretty much true. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report...but those are real laughs, not a track. I watched the first season of Lucky Louie, but that's was the only example I could remember.
Tralfaz was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs with a 5-point loss. I thought it was a decent rookie season for the coach who made his share of mistakes but did OK.
I've been referring to Tralfaz as "our team", but apparently Elliot wasn't happy with my management and insists that he wants to have his own team next year...a 6-year-old with his own fantasy football team? He was excited when I was talking about "next year" because he thought I meant January. He's got the Backyard Football computer game that he loves, and he's started writing down the stats from the games he plays (T=touchdown, S=sack, Fr=fumble recovery).
Tonight I watched CostasNOW. Like always, the montage summary of the year in sports tugged at your heart strings, especially with Explosions in the Sky as the soundtrack. Also, Charles Barkley admitted that he's lost between 5 and 10 million dollars gambling.
Here are some TV recommendations from The Week magazine:
- Paper Cannot Wrap Up Embers, Mon, Dec 11, 9 PM, Sundance
- Wedding Wars (trailer), Mon, Dec 11, 9 PM, A&E
- The Lost Room (trailer), Mon-Wed, Dec 11-13, 9 PM, Sci Fi
- Taking the Hill (trailer), Tue, Dec 12, 9 PM, Discovery Times
- One Punk Under God (trailer), Wed, Dec 13, 9 PM, Sundance
- Harvey, Sun, Dec 17, 2 PM, Turner Classic Movies
- Explorer: Secret Lives of Jesus, Sun, Dec 17, 9 PM, National Geographic
The film...may be the best weapon yet for the pro-life movement. That wasn't the purpose of the documentary -- the first ever to record animals in the womb -- but these images of gestating life pack a powerful wallop.
The mind makes a natural leap to questions of how we consider and treat the pre-born.
Here are some TV recommendations from The Week Magazine:
- Kiss Me Deadly, Saturday, Dec 9, 8 PM, Turner Classic Movies
- Alpha Company: Iraq Diary, Sunday, Dec 10, 8 PM, Military Channel
- ONLINE AND IN DANGER: How To Protect Yourself In The Virtual World, Sunday, Dec 10, 8:30 PM, Nickelodeon