Star Trek: Discovery: Klingons, Crew Dynamics and Political Fiction [REPORT]

We’ve often discussed Star Trek here. In fact, our very first podcast episode opens with a conversation about Captain Kirk‘s third season sexism. I even followed that up with an article, and Star Trek has been a common subject of other guestless podcasts. Accordingly, it makes sense that I take a look at the two instalments of Star Trek: Discovery currently available to us. I’ve been an enormous fan of the franchise for the majority of my conscious life, so I hope I can provide some context and perspective beyond that of a fresher viewer.

With my overall feelings ending rather mixed, it would be pointless to sum up my thoughts in an opening soundbite.…   [continue reading]

The One With The Laugh Track (SCP Mini)

Laugh tracks started out as something unavoidable in the world of comedy. Pantomimes (the historical equivalent of sitcoms), plays, and early TV shows with studio audiences would have natural laugh tracks because there would be a real, laughing audience. Somewhere along the way, audiences got so used to being prompted when it’s time to enjoy a joke that laugh tracks went from being a side-effect of comedy to something that now needed to be inserted.

Television executives of the 50s and 60s had such a low opinion of the general viewership that they believed a comedy would get a bad reception if it didn’t have a laugh track.…   [continue reading]

Alex Lowe Interview: Behind the Mask of Barry from Watford

This article ties in to a podcast I recorded with Alex Lowe, available here.

Alex Lowe is one of the most recognisable faces on British television. His credits have ranged from early outings in Grange Hill to memorable turns in comedies like Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights and House of Fools. As a huge fan of British comedy and television, I can’t count the number of times that he’s made appearances in influential favourites of mine. For Lowe, credits don’t end with his ubiquitous televisual roles either. In many ways, they’re merely a beginning.

Lowe is an eclectic talent, who seems able to turn his skills to a wide variety of mediums.…   [continue reading]

Dan Renton Skinner on Anarchic Comedy (SCP Mini)

For our latest SCP Mini (compressed editions of our regular podcasts), we’ve used our interview with Dan Renton Skinner as a source. As someone with a wealth of experience within British comedy, he had much to say on the subject. I took particular interest, when speaking to him, in the anarchic nature of certain comedies of the early 90’s. Thanks to his widespread work with Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, it’s something he clearly understands. In more modern times, some of the punk has disappeared from our national humorists. As Skinner himself notes, they simply don’t allow that aesthetic on syndicated television anymore.…   [continue reading]

The Myriad Talents of Doug Lussenhop

This article ties in to a podcast I recorded with Doug Lussenhop, available here.

Doug Lussenhop, also known as DJ Douggpound, is someone with far more output than many might expect. Mostly, he’s remembered as the editor who helped shape Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! into its distinctive and influential form. While his editing work represents a huge catalogue, it’s the tip of an incredibly intriguing iceberg. Lussenhop is never content to sit back, comfortable, in any one box. His creativity has branches in almost all forms of media, from music and writing to innovative live performances and apps.…   [continue reading]

Dan Skinner Interview: Angelos Epithemiou, Comedy and Media

On the British comedy scene, Dan Renton Skinner can be found in just about every nook and cranny. While he first came to national prominence through his appearances on Shooting Stars, he had a deeply rooted background in entertainment before that. Best known for his character of Angelos Epithemiou, who he portrayed on Shooting Stars, it’s actually a turn he’d been performing for seven years previous. That may help to explain why the persona seemed so well-formed by the time Skinner brought him to the screen.

Aside from his work with Epithemiou, and across the 00’s, he gained considerable experience on shows like My FamilyThe Armstrong & Miller Show and Coupling.…   [continue reading]

YouTube Poop: Advocating Low-Quality

If you’ve never encountered YouTube Poop, you’ve probably never delved too deep into that weird side of the internet. I can’t precisely recall how I first stumbled across it, but it’s something you can’t forget when you do. As one of the most confrontational and polarising forms of YouTube content, it’s widely seen as large-scale trolling. Even its moniker is off-putting. However, is there something of merit in the folds of their merciless edits? The deeper you fall into its aggressive charms, the more it warrants analysis. Firstly, for the uninitiated, exactly what is a YouTube Poop?

Many researchers and fans trace its true beginnings back to 2004.…   [continue reading]

The Last Joke of the Scene: Sitcoms and Sincerity

Television imitates life. The fact that it’s only an imitation is clearer in a sitcom than any other genre. If you distil TV down to its most basic elements — and then simplify each element further — you’re left with the sitcom.

Many sitcoms break the formula, but the most popular (and sometimes older) shows don’t. The Big Bang Theory, Full House, That 70s Show. Even newer releases like The Ranch. They are in the usual form of television but predigested and tidied up to the point where any mystery, crisis, tension or deeper meaning is diffused almost instantaneously, whether that’s at the end of the episode, or at the end of a scene.…   [continue reading]

The Enduring Mystery of David Liebe Hart

This article ties in to a podcast I recorded with David Liebe Hart, available here.

If you’ve ever spent any time with a toe dipped into Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!then you’re probably aware of David Liebe Hart. His first appearance came in the episode Salame, which heavily featured his music, puppets and thoughts on extra-terrestrial mythology. From there, he’s seen himself cast in numerous editions of that show, as well as various spin-offs, promotional materials and live tours. He’s become an integral part of their universe, whether Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim approve of it or not.…   [continue reading]

Is Netflix the New TV? Not Really

In 1997, Netflix wasn’t formed to disrupt our TV habits, it was formed to support them.

It launched with a library of 925 DVDs. The main thing that separated it from something like Blockbuster (and what eventually ended up allowing Netflix to trump them) is the monthly subscription. All-you-can-eat content, with a much wider selection than traditional TV or cinema.

Netflix Logos

By 2000, Netflix had already declined an acquisition offer of $50 million from a terrified Blockbuster, and then went on to make DVD rentals obsolete with a revolutionary on-demand platform and a discovery algorithm within the space of 6 years.

Using similar tactics to YouTube, and emerging within the same year, Netflix represents the YouTube-ization of television.…   [continue reading]