Viewing posts tagged pop between realities

Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 84 (Call the Midwife, Supernatural)


Jill Buratto is a nurse specializing in end of life issues, a general badass, and my wife.
In case you missed the boom, Call the Midwife is a BBC period drama about a group of midwives servicing London’s East End in the 1950s, originally based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth. It is the newest big show to hit UK television with ratings roughly matching those of Sherlock and Downton Abbey and surpassing Doctor Who itself. Call the Midwife was also featured in 2013’s Comedy Relief sketch (partnering with Doctor Who in this endeavor) and has Paul McGann’s brother, Stephen McGann as a prominent character in their series. UK TV ends up being a bit incestuous. 


Medical shows are a hard sell to those who work in the medical field. Much in the same way those in the tech field often cannot help but point out the inconsistencies and illogical moments when tech appears in TV or cinema, those of us in the medical field see the problems others can safely ignore. Even “reality” medical shows fall afoul of this issue, I remember yelling at a Mystery Diagnosis episode that “there is dumbing the facts down ...

Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 83 (The 2012 Olympics)

"One measures a circle starting anywhere." - Charles Fort, quoted by Alan Moore in From Hell

Before we begin, a touch of housekeeping. The Williams book should be out within the week. I think it has something that will make a fair number of you excited in amidst the extra essays. Also, if you're in the Cleveland area, I'm giving a pair of talks this week at the Lakewood Public Library. On Wednesday, at 7pm, I'm talking about Wonder Woman, doing "a comic for more or less every decade," and then on Thursday at 7pm I'm doing one on Doctor Who that will be "a brief history of overthrowing the government." Both talks are free, there will be books for sale and I'll be signing, and it'll be a good time, so if you're local, please do come out. Now, on to the Olympics.

I think this will be the last time we do a Pop Between Realities that’s about a cultural event as opposed to another television series. Those have been sporadic features, and from time to time I’ve cheated - I did the Three Day Week of 1973 in the ...

Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 82 (The Fades)

After the Moffat/Willis/Wenger team broke up, Moffat was paired with Caroline Skinner as his new co-executive producer. As we've already discussed, this was seemingly not a creative partnership that ended happily. Nevertheless, Caroline Skinner occupied a position on Doctor Who that was nominally as Moffat's equal opposite number, and though her tenure is brief, it must surely be considered as important as, say, the departure of a script editor or a producer during the classic series. To wit, Caroline Skinner was, upon taking the Doctor Who job, most recently coming off of a BBC Three series called The Fades. This, then, provides us with one of our occasional opportunities to see what the BBC thinks Doctor Who’s nearest equivalent shows are. This is, apparently, how you get the top job at Doctor Who: make The Fades first.

In their defense, it was a well regarded show. It got lovely reviews, and a BAFTA. It has a fine pedigree, and there are no reasonable grounds to complain about Caroline Skinner’s appointment based on it. There’s a few very reviewish paragraphs following this one, and they’re going to point out strengths and weaknesses, and ...

Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 81 (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic)

Jen writes My Little Po-Mo, the TARDIS Eruditorum of ponies.

In this scene, Clara is cleverly disguised as a pony named Rose.
Consider a fandom. A curious beast, an amorphous, shifting mass of people wrapped around a core of fiction. Despite the variation in cores and size, fandoms all look basically the same. The swarm of flesh devours the core over and over again, yet the core is unharmed. The beast excretes its assumptions and predictions by consensus, layering it around the core like an invert pearl, fanon-grit encrusting a glittering center. Fanficcers and shippers and “expanded universe” authors build their own structures, grit and crystal in varying amounts, arcing off the core. Sometimes these extend all the way out of the beast, where they draw in their own squishy masses of fan; sometimes, rarely, they break off, forming the cores of new beasts, drawing their own paradoxical factions of fans. That is how the beast reproduces; mostly, though, it just grows, feeding on the source work, drawing new fans into itself with reviews and memes and recommendations by slightly pushy friends.
 
But then the beast gets old, and something strange happens: the core cracks. Grit gets inside the ...

Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 80 (Grey's Anatomy)

On October 6th, 2011, the American medical soap Grey’s Anatomy aired the fourth episode of its eighth season, entitled “What is it About Men.” The conceit of the episode was straightforward and clever: Grey’s Anatomy, normally a show dominated by and framed in terms of its female characters, did an episode in which the female characters were all pushed to the periphery and the focus was instead on the male characters. The voiceover narration that clumsily sets up the theme for a given episode, instead of, as normal, going to title character Meredith Grey or, as occasionally the case, going to a single other character, is instead split among all of the male characters, who opine about masculinity. 

This is, to be clear, a genuinely interesting take. Grey’s Anatomy is a heavily female-driven show, both for better and for worse. It passes the Bechdel test essentially every episode, which makes this episode’s unrepentant flunking of it an appreciably interesting thing. Because it is not as though this is suddenly an episode of Grey’s Anatomy that is envisioned as being “for” a male audience. This is still clearly conceptualized as women’s television, which ...

Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 79: Downton Abbey

For all that the story of the Moffat era is (as we’ll see over the next season’s entries) one of the series breaking out as an international hit, it is hardly the only, or even the biggest international export in British television. Indeed, even domestically, it’s worth noting that Doctor Who’s status as “the biggest hit on television” was emphatically usurped not long after the fifth season wrapped. As of the end of 2010, it was Downton Abbey’s world.

This is not a surprise, of course. Nothing’s the biggest thing in culture forever. Even Downton Abbey has been unseated by Call the Midwife by now, and something’s sure to unseat that any day now. The massive status that Doctor Who had at the end of the Davies era was always going to falter, and there’s nothing to conclude from that in and of itself. What is interesting, however, is the nature of the transition. Yes, Doctor Who was always going to be unseated, but by what?

It is easy to point out that Downton Abbey is a conservative show. Indeed, it is literally a Conservative show - its creator and sole writer, Julian ...

Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 77: Snapshots of 2010

No Future

Near future prediction is always a rough game. The 1984 film 2010, an adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey sequel, managed a double error that almost perfectly defines the way in which the classic science fiction vision of the future fizzled. It’s first important to note the sort of endearing hubris of the film in the first place. In 1968, when 2001 came out, the future was thirty-three years off. But in 1984 the future was only twenty-six years off. There was still the resplendent belief in the onrushing scientific utopia that the culture had promised - a utopia wrapped up as a historical inevitable consequence of the then-present. Hence 2010’s amusing double error - the belief that humanity would be on the verge of going to Jupiter and the belief that the Cold War would be rumbling on.

Instead the American space program spent 2010 winding down, each of the three surviving Shuttles making their penultimate flights. The Cold War is dead and gone. Indeed, the entire apparatus of the future is long since gone, and has in fact quietly disappeared into the rear view mirror. Time memorably spend the tail end of ...

Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 76 (The Thick of It)

We’ve talked about comedy a few times before, and The Thick of It, in many ways, extends from those discussions. It is of course ridiculous to talk about British comedy as a monolithic entity, but if one were to try to one could be substantially more wrong than suggesting that the heart of British comedy is exposing the absurd foolishness of structures of authority. The most straightforward, standard issue joke in a piece of British comedy is, in essence, that the inmates are running the asylum - that how the world works is, in fact, determined by idiots who are immune to reason. Far from the comforting fiction that there’s actually some nefarious asshole running the show and screwing everyone, British comedy at its best suggests that the reason everything is completely fucked is that the world is run by blithering fools who aren’t malicious so much as they are wholly and entirely incompetent.

The previous classic of British political comedy was, of course, Yes (Prime) Minister, a sitcom in which the functioning of government is revealed to be inept because of the backbiting between elected officials and the civil service, and the bureaucratic nonsense each side engages ...

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