Tag Archives: tv

A Supercut of Sorkinisms

If you’re an Aaron Sorkin fan, you know he has favorite phrases and plot lines. He especially recycled a bunch between Sports Night and The West Wing which, for one year, he was writing at the same time. In fact, both of the last episodes of their first seasons were titled What Kind of Day Has it Been? 

Writers are mere mortals after all, so stuff like this isn’t surprising, and in fact it’s kind of a signature they leave in their work. In the seven minute video below, some of Sorkin’s signatures taken from A Few Good Men, Malice, BulworthSports NightThe West WingStudio 60 On The Sunset StripCharlie Wilson’s WarThe Social Network, and Tom Hanks’ 1993 Oscar Speech “for some reason”:

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From YouTube

The Most Ridiculous Lines From ‘True Detective’ Season 2

Season 2 of True Detective isn’t exactly terrible, but it’s definitely a big step down from the near-perfection of season 1. Largely, this is due to the writing: the plot is horribly complex, some of the characters are not written for the actor playing them — most notably, Vince Vaughn’s, who just doesn’t work as the gangster philosopher — and generally, a lot of the dialog is just stilted. Below, some of the most accidentally funny, cringe-worthy examples of 7th grade writing:

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From Yahoo!

Two Sitcoms Joked About Bruce Jenner Being A Woman Years Before He Came Out

This is dialog from a 2009 Family Guy episode (season 7, episode 14) called “We Love You, Conrad“:

Brian: Bruce Jenner is a man

Stewie: No, Brian. That’s what the press would have you believe, but he’s not. Bruce Jenner is a woman: an elegant, beautiful, Dutch woman.

 

And a decade before that, in 1996, Married… With Children showed the Bundys’ boyish-looking next door neighbor, Marcy, being mistaken for Bruce Jenner. This is from the 25th episode of season 10, “Torch Song Duet”:

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via Uproxx and Happy Place

How History Channel’s ‘Vikings’ Compares To Reality

Spoiler alert: the below contains spoilers through the third season of Vikings.

Over the past three years, Vikings has gotten better and better every year. Its story lines are consistently good, but it’s grown in scale from a Viking villagers attacking an English monastery, to a Viking king laying siege to Paris. And the show tries to be historically accurate: as a PopSugar interview with an expert tells us, the costumes, hair styles and characters all fit within the Viking culture, even if some of it is the stuff of legends. The series even has a lot of dialogue in authentic languages of the time: Old Norse, Old English, Old French, none of which sound anything like their modern counterparts.

vikings explanation

But how about the timeline and the characters? How do they compare to real history? The article gets the crux of it:

the show is both radically compressing and extending eras

The first raid portrayed in the series, in the second episode of the first season, is the infamous first Viking raid ever recorded, in 793 A.D., at the monastery on the East English isle of Lindisfarne. (The sunstone they used to navigate is thought to be real, too.) The attack was as shocking, if not more so, than the show makes it seem. To the British, the Vikings were demons.

Lindisfarne was located in what at the time was the Kingdom of Northumbria, and in the next episode, we meet its king, Ælla. Here is the first glimpse of the mangling of the timeline: in history, Ælla dies in 867. He looks to be in his 40s in the series, but let’s say life was hard back then and he was 25: that would mean he lived to be 100. However, Ælla does play a prominent role in Norse legend, particularly in one of the Norse sagas about Ragnar Lodbrok, The Tale of Ragnar’s Sons (possible future spoilers) and it makes sense that they included him in the show.

We’ll get back to Ragnar himself — as well as the rest of the Vikings — a little later but first, let’s look at the events of the second season because here, the series jumps forward four years and expands in scope quite a bit. In the second episode, the Vikings, now accompanied by King Horik, land in Wessex and we meet King Egbert. The historical Egbert lived from 770-something to 839.

Egbert_of_Wessex_map

If we count from the known raid of Lindisfarne, the series would be in 797-798, which would put Egbert in his late 20s, when he was in exile. However, he looks like he’s in his 40s, with his grown son, another historical figure named Æthelwulf, being in his late 20s. In the seventh episode, Egbert and Ælla, whose kingdoms are separated by Mercia, propose an alliance against the Vikings and Mercians, and seal it by wedding their children, Æthelwulf and Judith. It is believed that the real Ælla did have a daughter, but she was named Æthelthryth. However, the real Æthelwulf was indeed married to a Judith in order to form an alliance, but she was Judith of Flanders, and the alliance was with West Francia.

In the eighth episode, we meet a Princess Kwenthrith of Mercia, who seems to want to be either Queen Cynethryth or Princess Cwenthryth. If we have to pick one, it’s probably the former, who lived in late 700s, and was actually queen. However, neither of these women fought a civil war or ruled alone, as Kwenthrith in the series did, and so she seems to be largely fictional. The real Egbert did defeat Mercia though, in the late 820s, and was briefly the 8th and penultimate bretwalda, or ruler of all Britain. His grandson, Alfred the Great, was the last bretwalda. Incidentally, in the series Alfred is the name that Egbert gives to Aethelstan’s bastard child with Judith.

So, based on Egbert’s age and the events, the story seems to not take place as much in the late 790s as the 820s. (Egbert’s son, Æthelwulf, is first mentioned in history in 825 as heading a large army, so he had to be at least in his 20s by then, which matches up with the TV character.) If we leave Ælla and Kwenthrith out, and pretend the attack on Lindisfarne wasn’t the famous one in 793, we can almost say the series takes place in the 820s.

Paris_in_9_century

Almost, because the events of the third season would disagree. Noting that there’s no jump in time like the four year one in the previous season, Kwenthrith’s uncle, Beorhtwulf, dies in the battle in the first episode, and she poisons her brother, Burgred, in the fourth one. In reality, both of them were kings of Mercia for decent amounts of time: the former from 840 to 852 and the latter from 852 to 874. This not only really upsets the correspondence with the series, but also puts the story even later, in the mid 800s. The invasion of Paris introduces even more confusion.

First, we meet Count Odo, who in reality, fairly successfully defended Paris from the Viking siege of 885-886. However, all other signs indicate that the siege portrayed is the one from 845, because it:

  • was the first Viking siege of Paris, and this seemed to also be the case in the series
  • was led by Ragnar
  • better matches the battle tactics used
  • occurred during the reign of the Frankish emperor Charles the Bald, who was the grandson of Charlemagne, as mentioned in the series
    • Charles the Fat ruled during the 885-886 siege, and he was great-grandson of Charlemagne
    • Charles the Bald was named so ironically, because he had lots of hair, just like in the series
    • Charles the Bald had a daughter, as in the series, while Charles the Fat did not
  • ended with a raid inside the city and the payment of 5670 lb of gold and silver, as shown in the series

So it’s pretty clear that aside from Odo’s presence, who was not yet born then, the siege depicted is the one in 845. In the season three finale, Ragnar pretends to convert to Christianity and then die, uses his coffin as a Trojan horse to get into the city, fights his way to the gates, and lets his army in. In reality, they didn’t need to do that to get into the city, and that story is actually attributed to Ragnar’s son, Björn Ironside, who did the same thing to get into what he thought was Rome, but was actually Luna.

Princess-Gisla-MORGANE-POLANSKI-and-Emperor-Charles-LOTHAIRE-BLUTEAU

Finally, Charles the Bald marries his daughter Gisla to Rollo, in order to secure an alliance with the Vikings. This is interesting for two reasons:

  • Remember Judith of Flanders, who married Æthelwulf? She was Charles the Bald’s daughter. It’s strange that in the series, they named his wife Judith and made it a diplomatic marriage, but with the wrong kingdom
  • Charles the Bald did not have a daughter named Gisla but his grandson, Charles the Simple, is believed to have had one named Gisela, whom he did give to Rollo — in 911

Which brings us to the Vikings themselves and some history, which may or may not turn out to be spoilers of later seasons of the show:

  • The actual Rollo lived from about 850 to 930, and apparently had nothing to do with Ragnar. He and his army eventually settled in Normandy — which took its name from the Normans, meaning North men
    • Incidentally, Rollo is the great-great-great-grandfather of William the Conqueror, and thus an ancestor of Queen Elizabeth II and many other European monarchs.
  • King Horik ruled the Danes from 827 to 854
  • It’s not known which historical figure Ragnar was, if he even existed, but legend has it that the Great Heathen Army, which conquered much of England starting in 865, was led by his sons and constituted to avenge his death

Ragnar-and-Charles-1940x1456

If that’s true, that would mean Ragnar was born in the early 800s, and could’ve laid the 845 siege to Paris. But there’s no way much else in the timeline makes sense:

  • King Horik died 9 years after the siege of Paris in real life, but before it in the series
  • The historical King Egbert died in 6 years before the siege, but he’s still alive in the series
  • Rollo was born 5 years after the siege, Odo 7
  • The situation with the Mercian monarchy in no way represents reality

However, we do get a sense that even though people and events have been shifted both backwards and forwards through time, the story does take place in the mid-early 800s. The two firm historical dates we have are the raid on Lindisfarne in 793 and the siege of Paris in 845. Given they both can’t be true, and based on the other events in the series, fixing it to the latter seems more “correct”.

So in that case, Lindisfarne has been pushed forward in time almost 40 years; Egbert and Æthelwulf about 10 years; Ælla and Ragnar are about where they should be; Horik has been pulled back 10 years, and Rollo and Odo about 40; Gisela, almost 70.

Which is actually not a bad way to do the series: it takes about a century from the height of the Viking Age, compresses it down to a few years, and tells the most interesting stories, with compelling characters that shared a history, even if they weren’t actually contemporaries. Portraying that much history in one series would be very hard without a device like this. And actually, our historical sources from back then are so shaky, that who knows if what we think we know actually happened that way.

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Lawyer Ads Weren’t Legal Until 1977

Toward the end of the fifth episode of Better Call Saul, Jimmy is talking to his brother Chuck about his right to advertise, at which point Chuck mentions that the practice “wasn’t even allowed until five Supreme Court justices went completely bonkers in Bates vs State Bar of Arizona“. And indeed, bar associations until that time had traditionally banned all forms of lawyer advertising — the thinking being that good work is its own advertisement through the word of mouth it generates and that discussing money matters was beneath the professionalism of a lawyer.

Chuck McGill explaining Bates vs the State Bar of Arizona, in the fifth episode of Better Call Saul

Chuck McGill explaining Bates vs the State Bar of Arizona, in the fifth episode of Better Call Saul

 

Well in 1976, an Arizona legal clinic which only handled basic legal matters placed an ad with prices for some services it provided, such as uncontested divorces and basic adoptions. The State Bar of Arizona sued them, and the Arizona Supreme Court found in their favor. But, the United States Supreme Court, having recently ruled that laws prohibiting pharmacists from advertising their prices were unconstitutional, took up the case and ruled that the same bans are unconstitutional for lawyers also. The thinking was that the rules were not only anachronistic, but that they constituted a disservice to the common man in that they prohibited the free flow of information.

It was an early ruling on the concept of commercial speech, which has since evolved quite a bit, and was most recently the reason behind the landmark ruling of Citizens United vs FEC, in which the ban against corporations spending money on political campaigns was lifted.

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From Wikipedia

‘The Katering Show’ Quits Sugar

The Katering Show is a hilarious, absurd, deadpan parody of a cooking show, built on the premise that one of the hosts can cook well and the other is intolerant of a lot of foods. On its third episode, Kate and Kate quit sugar — one of the few foods that Kate can eat — because Australian author Sarah Wilson did it.

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From YouTube, via Laughing Squid

‘Twin Peaks’ Is Returning in 2016!

Twin Peaks opening shot credits
Every Twin Peaks fan’s wildest fantasy came true today, and it all started with simultaneous, twin tweets a few days ago by the show’s co-creators, David Lynch and Mark Frost:

 

Those tweets reference the line at 3:33 into the dream sequence from episode 2:

 

The hashtag is from the same episode:

The Internet then immediately remembered this quote:

“When two separate events occur simultaneously pertaining to the same object of inquiry we must always pay strict attention!” Special Agent Dale Cooper

And so, after letting that sit over the weekend, Showtime announced today that they have picked up a limited, nine episode revival of the series. It will air and take place in 2016, which is 25 years after the end of the 1991 series, per what Laura Palmer says 40 seconds into this clip from the series finale:

All nine episodes will be written, produced and directed by the co-creators. And it looks like Kyle MacLachlan has already agreed to reprise the role of Agent Cooper:

 

Until 2016, here are all of the mentions of pie and coffee in the entire series:

Via The New York Times

How To Do Meetings, The Don Draper Way

This is from “Tale of Two Cities”, episode 10 of season 6.

And this one is from “The Phantom”, the finale of season 5.

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From YouTube

‘Felicity’ Mentioned iPads In 1999

That’s right, 10+ years before the iPad was announced, it had a brief moment (with Spanish subtitles) in the third episode of season two of Felicity. The episode’s script is credited to Andrea Newman, who went on to be a co-executive producer of Cold Case and Chicago Fire, and apparently can divine the future. The show was created by J.J. Abrams, who went on to direct a couple of Star Trek and Star Wars movies.

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From YouTube

What Can We Do To Lessen The Grip Of Fear From Terrorism?

What can we do to lessen the fear from terrorism?

 

It’s not on his website, but the cartoon was drawn by Bruce Beattie.