“Positive propaganda as the main theme”

10462887174_2e3a2c0d99_zRussia does it with RT.   Arabs do it with Al Jazeera.   Now, as of New Year’s Day,  China has launched the China Global Television Network.

I am impressed with how honest the still-Communist regime is in explaining its purpose:  to promote “positive propaganda as the main theme.”

Watch for CGTN on your cable or satellite TV system.  And watch for Americans to swallow it whole.

Having grown up during the Cold War, I find it hard to imagine a Communist propaganda network on our televisions, but then again we only had four channels.

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In  Sweden, Christmas means Donald Duck 

The_Spirit_of_43-Donald_Duck,_cropped_versionOdd Christmas customs department:  In Sweden, the country virtually shuts down on Christmas Eve at 3:00 p.m. so that everyone can watch a Donald Duck special from 1958.

The show consists of old cartoons from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, featuring Walt Disney’s duck, whom the Swedes call Kalle Anka.

After the jump, an excerpt and link to an account of the role Kalle Anka plays in the Swedish Christmas.

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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…]