Trumpet Blowing

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on March 6, 2011 by Andrew T. Smith

After a pretty cack day last Friday, I was really cheered up when a colleague sent me a link to a review of a conference I presented at last year, published by Scope: The Online Journal of Film and Television Studies. Please excuse this exercise in trumpet blowing, but of the panel I presented alongside Melanie Waters and Rosie White, Scope said:

A diverse panel explored the queered spaces and liminal practices of American television. Andrew T. Smith (University of Sunderland) began with an engrossing exploration of the career of TV scriptwriter Rod Sterling, creator of the Twilight Zone (1959-1964, CBS). Having identified a gap in television to film adaptation studies, that is the process of self-adaptation,Smith explored Sterling’s reflections on his own work through the process of adapting his own scripts.

Now I have to take some points away from the authors of this review for referring to Rod Serling as Sterling, but I’d say that’s a decent result! The whole conference report is available HERE.


Dearth Nadir?!

Posted in Muppets, Ramblings, Sites of Interest with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2011 by Andrew T. Smith

Another month, another contribution to Tachyon-TV. This time I take a look at the Mark Hamill episode of The Muppet Show. It’s one of the strangest episodes of the series and, given that we’re talking about the Muppets here, that’s saying something! You can read the article by clicking this link.

Internet Telly, Internet Radio

Posted in Ramblings, Sites of Interest with tags , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2011 by Andrew T. Smith

Over the past couple of years I have been teaching first year university students the history of broadcasting and one of the things that I’m always keen to stress is that, at any given moment in history, nobody really had a clue how the mediums of television and radio would evolve – so who’s to say anybody has a clue where they are headed today?

That being said, I have noticed a definite change in my viewing/listening patters over the past couple of years. I’m not talking about the fact that, rather than subject myself to the mercy of programme schedulers, I now watch catch up with most television and radio via platforms like the BBC iPlayer or SeeSaw; though this is increasingly true of a great many people. No, what I’m trying to express is the fact that a good chunk of the TV and Radio I now experience was never broadcast at all,  but designed specifically for and distributed via the internet.

There is a hell of a lot of good stuff out there produced by dedicated amateurs or, in some cases, dedicated amateurs who have turned professional after their audience has increased to a size able to support them financially. There are chatshows, like Robert Llewelyn’s Carpool, pop-culture review series like That Guy With The Glasses, comedy documentarians such as The Angry Video Game Nerd, as well as quality drama from the likes of The Guild or, on the fan-film front, Star Trek: New Voyages. With his Smodcast Network, film director, Keving Smith, has provided me with enough radio material to fill each day of my week with diverse programming.

I love this democratisation of programme making and distribution; production values vary but literally anybody with a video camera or podcast mic can, in the true Mickey and Judy sense of the phrase, put on a show.  So much, in fact, did I enjoy this trend that  I even launched my own web series, The B-Keeper (which will return at some point, my concerned viewer).

I’m loathe to make predictions here, any study of the history of broadcasting demonstrates that these usually don’t pan out, but I will make an observation. With growing numbers of people turning to this alternate platform of entertainment, there appears to be an influx of cash being pumped in to internet telly and radio. I’d hate to see this opportunity for a new era of programme making overly commercialised so early in the day, but surely it can’t hurt to give a boost to some of the most promising creators out there.

Essentially, this post has been an excuse to post links to some of my favourite web-series. I hope you get something out of them. If so, mission accomplished.

RIP Kenneth Mars

Posted in Ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2011 by Andrew T. Smith

I always hate to update this blog for the sake of an obituary but I feel the need to mark the passing of Kenneth Mars. Best known for his roles in the Mel Brooks films The Producers and Young Frankenstein as well as the sitcom Malcolm in the Middle, Mars was one of those actors I don’t think I appreciated enough until he was gone. Thinking about it now, there is nobody who does the kind of work he did.

Mars had a unique line in comedy Germans/Europeans, but not of the stereotypical variety. Mars, simply put, was loveable; even when playing a deranged Nazi playwrite, Mars found humanity within the character, the incongruous romantic streak to his heart which made the character so appealing.

To pigeonhole Mars as an actor who played Germans would be misleading, off the top of my head I can think of a very fine dramatic performance of his from the James Stewart detective series Hawkins, but here are a selection of my favourite performances of his.

If anybody can find a good clip of his role in Malcolm in the Middle, I’d be very grateful.

Hawking Hawkins

Posted in Ramblings, Sites of Interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2011 by Andrew T. Smith

I’m a big fan of the sadly neglected mystery series, Hawkins, starring Jimmy Steward and will happily waffle on for hours about why it should be better remembered than it is. While Tachyon TV weren’t desperate enough to give me hours, they did ask me for a few hundred words. Check them out here.

Happy (Belated) New Year!

Posted in Marx, Marx Brothers, Ramblings, Re-Marx on January 19, 2011 by Andrew T. Smith

Sorry for the lack of posts recently; so 2011 has been full of activity. Which is a good thing… I think.

By way of an apology please enjoy this picture, which almost, but didn’t quite, make it in to Marx and Re-Marx.

PROUDLY PRESENTING: A Very Merry B-Keeper Holiday Special

Posted in Uncategorized on December 19, 2010 by Andrew T. Smith

Far too much work has gone in to this special, especially on the part of my unpaid contributors Bob Fischer, Stephen La Riviere, Deacan Flynn, John Paul Green and Dave Maltby. I hope you enjoy. If you do then please comment and share. Merry Christmas everybody!