Star Trek & the Gene Roddenberry myth

A classic has been defined as a work of art that still holds up after 50 years.  The songs of the Beatles have attained that status.  And last Thursday, on September 8, so has Star Trek.

To mark the occasion, Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman have written The Fifty-Year Mission:  The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek.  It exists in two volumes, one about the first 25 years and the other about the next 25 years.

But, according to this book, Gene Roddenberry, who had the idea for the series, was not responsible for its creative success.  In fact, he was always messing it up.   Another Gene, Gene Coon, gave the show many of the qualities that so endears it to fans.  Read the review by Matthew Continetti, excerpted and linked after the jump. [Read more…]

When TV goes literary

NBC is developing a new series based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel Oliver Twist.  The series, called Twist, will be a “procedural”–that is, it will follow the main characters as they solve crimes.  Here is how the network describes the show:  “A sexy contemporary take on Oliver Twist with a struggling 20-something female (Twist) who finally finds a true sense of family in a strange group of talented outcasts who use their unique skills to take down wealthy criminals.”

So Dickens’ orphan boy will become a sexy 20-something woman.  The homeless children whom Fagin teaches to be pickpockets will become talented crimefighters.

Similarly, Fox has in development a series called Camelot, based on the King Arthur legends.  It too will be a procedural.  It will feature a graffiti artist named Art who solves crimes with the help of his ex-girlfriend Gwen and his best friend Lance.  (Seriously.  Read about it here.)

But at least the TV-watching public is getting the benefit of classic literature!

These series may sound like parody, something from the Onion, but they are real.  Nevertheless, they beg for actual parody. What other modernized procedurals could we come up with from other works of literature and (we’ll extend it a little) cultural milestones?  I’ll go first, after the jump. [Read more…]

Gaffigans end their TV show for a more important project

A few nights ago, we watched comedian Jim Gaffigan’s routine “Obsessed.”  We laughed so hard we were in pain.  He and his wife and writer Jeannie just announced that they were going to end their successful TV series, “The Jim Gaffigan Show.”  They said that it was taking too much time away from their “most important project”; namely, raising their 5 children. [Read more…]

The new “Star Trek” captain will be “diverse,” but what “level of diversity”?

CBS is coming out with a new Star Trek series, starting on its main broadcasting network, but then moving over to its new pay-for-access channel.  An Entertainment Weekly article on the show, based on an interview with the producer, tortures the term “diverse” in ways I hadn’t heard before.

We are told that the commander of the spacecraft will be a “diverse actress.”  [How can an individual be “diverse”?  Is that, like, shizophrenic?  Or just someone with a multi-faceted personality who can play many different parts?  Oh, I guess “diverse” is now a euphemism for a class of people who aren’t white, male heterosexuals.]

But the part has not yet been cast, so the producer didn’t know “what level of diversity” she would be.  [So diversity comes in levels? Is Asian one level, and Hispanic another level?  Is black the highest level?  She is a woman, so that counts, but would making her a lesbian give them a higher level of diversity?  What if she is an Alien?] [Read more…]

Fox News is coming apart

Roger Ailes, who runs Fox News, is set to be fired by Rupert Murdoch, owner of the network, over charges that he sexually harassed TV journalist Gretchen Carlson.  Megyn Kelly has also said that Ailes harassed her, though other Fox News employees are defending their boss.  In fact, three of the network’s biggest stars–Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Greta Van Susteren–are threatening to quit if Ailes leaves.  This would mean, for better or worse, the end of Fox News as we know it. [Read more…]


The figure of the wanderer dominates the popular imagination, as evident in the heroes of our popular TV shows and movies.  So observes Alissa Wilkinson at, who says the wanderer reflects the spiritual condition of our time.  As an example, she points to the TV series “Preacher,” based on a comic book about a tormented pastor with strange super powers and a dark attitude.  He is trying to track down a demon that has destroyed his congregation.  I suspect some of you pastors can relate to that.

Have any of you seen this show or read the comic it is based on?  I haven’t, but it sounds kind of good, though I can’t tell from the review if it is being blasphemous or religious (in a “winter Christian” kind of way).

[Read more…]