Merlin Fights the Good Fight

I am part of that small group of people obsessed with what we call “Arthurian Legend.” It may seem odd that there is a subculture following King Arthur, Merlin, and the Knights of the Round Table the way trendier people follow vampires, but books and movies set in Camelot have become a cottage industry over the last 40 years. The BBC series Merlin is the most recent incarnation of this epic story.In this particular version, Merlin, Arthur, and the other main characters are teenagers. Arthur’s f … [Read more...]

The Televangelist: The Office's Long, Splendid Goodbye

Each Friday in The Televangelist, Richard Clark examines the met and missed potential of television.When The Office said goodbye to Michael Scott, many disavowed themselves from the show. According to general wisdom, television shows tend to go on way too long in a cynical attempt to pile up as much money as possible before the inevitably jump the shark. For most, Michael Scott getting on that airplane was The Office's inevitable shark-jump.But it wasn't. The Office has carried its' own … [Read more...]

The Televangelist: Community's Magnum Opus

Each Friday in The Televangelist, Richard Clark examines the met and missed potential of television. I would be genuinely surprised if last Thursday's episode of Community, "Remedial Chaos Theory" doesn't go down as the single best episode of Community yet. It's a slow burn, for sure, a concept that seems horrifically over-complicated and misguided. But it justifies itself by the end of the show, or half way through, or however long it takes you to realize what is going on here. And what is … [Read more...]

The Televangelist: The New Girl, The Last Man Standing, and Gender Relations

Each Friday in The Televangelist, Richard Clark examines the met and missed potential of television.You don't have to be a genius to realize that two new sitcoms, The New Girl and Last Man Standing, are for entirely different audiences. One features as its protagonist a quirky, likeable and sensitive girl who's trying to get over a messy break-up. The other features a rugged, combative and oblivious husband and father who finds himself stranded in a sea of femininity. Both shows have a similar … [Read more...]

Murder Most Bleak

I love British murder mysteries. As long as someone dies a gruesome death and the suspects use words like “posh” and “peckish,” I’m hooked. Ever since the day Netflix added to their library of macabre mysteries, I’ve been slipping away during the rinse cycle to watch 10-year-old episodes of a British detective series called Midsomer Murders.Midsomer Murders is one of those shows that has been around forever, and while it’s never been a huge hit, it has maintained a loyal following (which I gues … [Read more...]

Mixed Signals: Cigna Calls Out to the True You

Mixed Signals is Erin Straza’s weekly musing about marketing miscellany in advertising, branding, and messaging.Whenever I think back to my junior high days, I get sort of squeamish. I was a girl so afraid of being left out that I tried to be like the crowd rather than chance drawing negative attention. Although that may have prevented some potential rejection, it also set up a pattern of living life as less-than myself.For me, the maturation process—into adulthood as well as into a Christ fo … [Read more...]

The Televangelist: How NBC’s Parenthood Instills Empathy

Each Friday in The Televangelist, Richard Clark examines the met and missed potential of television.What show should you be watching that you probably aren't already? NBC's Parenthood, a dramatically careful and remarkably relevant drama that manages to be touching without feeling forced or manipulative. The obvious selling point is that it provides a gripping storyline that doesn't feel overly melodramatic, and keeps us watching primarily because the characters are fleshed out and likeable. … [Read more...]

The Televangelist: A Case for the Idiot Box

Each Friday in The Televangelist, Richard Clark examines the met and missed potential of television.Television gets a bad name, primarily because it's so good at supporting stuff that is unequivocally dumb. Still, underneath that thick layer of dirt is something beautiful. There are several television shows being produced that could be worth the time, but the common factor of almost all of them is that they take a certain amount of work and commitment. They take an investment.But that's the … [Read more...]

Mixed Signals: New from Ikea: A Nursery for Men

Mixed Signals is Erin Straza’s weekly musing about marketing miscellany in advertising, branding, and messaging.Ikea does lots of things right. It has funky home furnishings at decent prices. It has that mesmerizing cart escalator. It has a nursery for kids. And now it has Manland for men.That’s right. Now women can drop off their men in Manland so they can have 30 minutes of man-less shopping. Here’s how it works: Upon signing your man into Manland, you receive a beeper that will buzz after … [Read more...]

The Suicide of Character in Mad Men

Don Draper sits alone in his car in front of a railroad crossing, and stares listlessly at an oncoming train. He had gone out to get a cake for his daughter’s birthday party hours before, and was expected back home hours ago. He’s an overwhelming success at a New York advertising agency; he has a beautiful family, a large home, and plenty of money. And, yet, despite his realization of the American Dream, the dread that hovers over Don’s train-watching seems apparent: whether by suicide or by trav … [Read more...]