For the first time in Steven Moffat’s run on Doctor Who, I found myself actually enjoying one of his episodes, even if it was marked by his usual tendency to radically rewrite history, canon, and everything else. In this case, that rewriting was very deliberately undertaken, and rather brilliantly done: the whole point was the complete restructuring of everything we know about the Doctor.
The woeful state of health care in the United States has made the country into something that would be a laughingstock, if the stakes weren’t so high. While most other Western nations have managed to create functional (though by no means perfect) systems for ensuring that residents are connected with health services, the United States flails within a system that primarily benefits private insurers, pharmaceutical companies, and hospital conglomerates. Attempts at reform under the Obama Administration have proved difficult. While residents were never promised single payer healthcare (the most obvious solution to the country’s troubles) to begin with, the actual level of health care reform differs radically from that advertised.
Last week brought us the premiere of NBC’s Dracula, in which the title character arrives in 19th century London under the guise of an American industrialist, but if you’re expecting a scintillating commentary on the evils of early capitalism, think again. Actually, if you’re expecting anything even vaguely logical, you may want to think again, as Dracula appears to have embraced the spaghetti pot of television writing: namely, throwing it all against the wall and seeing what sticks.
In 2008, while much of the United States celebrated President Obama’s victory and a historic moment for the United States, California progressives reeled from the successful passage of Proposition 8, which eliminated marriage equality in the state. As the nation’s eyes turned to the state and this chilling example of the potential abuses of the initiative and referendum system, it raised a great deal of questions about how California progressives had lost out so ignominiously, and how they could recover.
Amongst the supernatural shows on television this season comes an interesting entry: Once Upon A Time in Wonderland, ABC’s spinoff of its hit Once Upon A Time. Unlike the original series, which draws upon myth, folklore, and fairy tales, this show is based at least in part on a more recent entry into the literary canon: Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a bizarre 19th century text littered with complicated allusions, surrounded by controversy, and yet utterly beguiling and fascinating.
A tangled and rather bizarre controversy is unfolding in the entertainment world this week as musical veteran Sinead O’Connor spars with teen it girl Miley Cyrus. They come from different continents, different worlds, and different sensibilities, but the women are currently having a very public and very ugly fight that highlights some troubling issues embedded in media, pop culture, and the way people interact.
Last week on Agents of SHIELD: An angry Black man threatens to blow up a train station full of innocent people. This week: A mysterious explosive device is found inside an oddly young ‘Incan pyramid’ (it’s described as ‘almost 500 years old,’ ignoring the fact that, er, the Incan Empire was crushed by the Spanish about 500 years ago). Is it mysterious woo-woo Incan technology and an opportunity for a meeting with a Wise Native? No! It’s a secret Nazi plot! Or something. I confess, I started losing track over the course of the second episode of this outstandingly dull and amazingly racist series.
The autumn 2013 television season seems determined to impress with a broad array of shows featuring disabled characters, almost all of whom are in cripface, played by nondisabled actors. (The exception is Michael Fox on his eponymous comedy.) Apparently nondisabled audiences are simply clamoring for inauthentic representations of the lived experience of disability—or networks are angling for their own diversity cookies al la Glee.
Fox debuted its Sleepy Hollow, a strange mashup of “Rip van Winkle,” “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” an assortment of Biblical myths, and made up apocrypha, this week. The show appears to be capitalising on the unexpected success of Grimm, which balances camp with supernatural mysteries, a light touch of humour, and just enough creepiness to give fans the willies on occasion. Sleepy Hollow, however, looks to be darker, a horror show that intends to take itself more seriously and press home the point: though there is comic relief (as when two police officers are stumped by the Headless Horseman when they tell him to drop his weapon and put his hands on his…uh…), this is a show that’s meant to spook.
The Miss America pageant may be a bizarre and largely outdated cultural ritual, but it still occupies an iconographic status in a nation obsessed with appearances and the objectification. Even young girls are swept up in pageant culture, as the reality television series Toddlers and Tiaras illustrates, and for older girls and women, the stakes can be huge. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on the pageant industry annually, from its glitz-filled events to the broadcasts bringing it to viewers, even as the overall number of viewers declines from year to year. The dying gasps of the industry, in other words, haven’t stopped it from packing a punch.