Tuesday, 15 June 2021

your experiment today is called pod people. it has nothing to do with pods, it has nothing to do with people. it has everything to do with hurting.

First airing on this day in 1991, the third episode of the third season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (see previously) lampoons the 1983 Franco-Spanish sci-fi movie with the original title Los nuevos extraterrestres, which was originally meant to be a horror film with a murderous alien rampage in the tradition of Beowulf but changed course during shooting to capitalise on the success of E.T. (changed to avoid confusion) with a bond forming between one of the aliens and a human kid. The MST3K cast especially enjoy mishearing the performance of “Burning Rubber Tyres”—singing “hear the engines roar now” as “idiot control now.” 

Sunday, 18 April 2021

general entertainment content division

Though first proposed as early as 1977 as a cable television conduit for studio-sourced content, the idea was sidelined in favour of developing the Epcot (see previously) and the brand’s other theme parks, the Disney Channel—as an independent venture—began its first programming day on this day in 1983 in US markets, garnering some six-hundred thousand subscribers within the first six months. The first shows included “Contraption” in which adolescents competed across a giant board game obstacle course, “Dreamfinders” meant to spur critical thinking skills in young people, “Mousterepiece Theatre” a cartoon show hosted by George Plimpton and “Mousercise,” a daily exercise routine hosted by Kellyn Plasschaert.

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

show dna

Informed earlier by our faithful chronicler and now reprised for the cinematic adaptation of Larry McMurty’s 1975 novel of the same name going into general release in US cinemas on this day in 1983, James L. Brooks directorial debut film (also writer and producer) has a throughline to the Simpsons. As a thank you gift for securing her and her production team an Academy Award (Terms of Endearment starring Shirley MacClaine, Danny DeVito, Debra Winger, Jeff Daniels, John Lithgow and Jack Nicholson did quite well at the Oscars) assistant Polly Platt had procured for her collaborator an original panel of the comic Life in Hell—a bleak strip about a depressed, neurotic rabbit called Bongo, specifically one from 1982 entitled “The Los Angeles Way of Death”—as imagined and illustrated by Matt Groening. A year later, with a new television project, a variety show with a series of sketches, Brooks reached out to Groening about developing a series of animated interstitial bumpers between segments. Fearing loss of creative control over his original characters, Groening created a wholly new cast based on his own family, giving the world the Simpsons as a regular part of The Tracey Ullmann Show.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

possibly in michigan

Vacillating between the cute and the grotesque and nicely framing the spirit of the contradictory and the absurd that America leans strongly into, we appreciate the referral to the filmmaker and educator Cecelia Condit through her 1983 eponymous and most viral piece.
Recently rediscovered and championed by a video clip platform that’s usually the reserve of brief lessons or lip-syncing, this musical short about a deranged cannibal who pursues a pair of women through an otherwise empty shopping mall has enjoyed cult-following for the past four decades and no stranger to the experience of memetic infection, having previously been drawn in as a poster child in the moral and Satanic Panic of mid-1980s America and the on-going culture wars—by dent mostly of the closing credits that prominently features the support and patronage of the National Endowment for the Arts. New audiences are sometimes the best audiences.

Friday, 27 July 2018

liner notes

On this day thirty five years ago, Madonna released her eponymous debut album, including the songs “Borderline, “Lucky Star” and “Holiday.” Dismissed by some critics at the time as a one hit-wonder, the artist thanked them during her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a quarter of a century after the album’s release offering that “they pushed me to be better and I am grateful for their resistance.” In that spirit, we should take a moment to appreciate the influence and the legacy of this opening opus.

Monday, 20 November 2017

arc of narrative

Our faithful chronicler, Doctor Caligari, informs that among many other notable events, on this day in 1983 an audience of over one hundred million Americans tuned in to watch the made-for-television movie, “The Day After.”
Suppressing a potential military coup in East Germany, Soviet forces blockade West Berlin—an act that NATO forces interpret as an act of war and responds in kind. Things escalate rather quickly with Russia pushing towards the Rhein and nuclear bombs used on the US Army bastions of Wiesbaden and Frankfurt. As the war expands beyond the German frontier, a nuclear exchange takes place, culminating with a high-altitude burst that results in an electro-magnetic pulse that disables the remaining technologies that the survivors of the first strike can avail themselves of. The director, Nicolas Meyer (also known for his cinematic Star Trek adaptations), reported suffered influenza-like symptoms during production, and when doctors could find no somatic cause, they determined Meyer was suffering under a bout of severe depression due to having to contemplate the horrors of war.