Category: TV

Glee takes all the kink out of Rocky Horror

My girlfriend's a big Glee fan. I watch it with her now and again -- it's a little poppy for my tastes, and has gotten too big too fast, but it's not bad; there's some good singin' and dancin' and I've loved me some Jane Lynch since Best in Show.

So last night I did what any self-respecting owner of a Denton High Class of 1963 jacket (if that's not an oxymoron) would do: I watched the Rocky Horror episode. And...I am deeply ambivalent about it.

The singing, dancing, choreography, and costumes were generally great...but to say there were compromises for network TV is an understatement. Yes, I understand that twelve-year-olds watch this show, but not to put too fine a point on it, they just did Rocky Horror with no cross-dressing. Seriously. That happened.

I mean, I'm all for letting a woman play Frank-N-Furter; I've seen some great female Franks in my time (and the best version of Dammit Janet I've ever seen was performed by a female Brad). But Rocky Horror without a single man in fishnets? Basically a contradiction in terms, and rather odd coming from a show that hasn't exactly shied away from drag before.

And then there are the bowdlerized lyrics. Some of them are incoherent -- what the fuck is "heavy sweating"? -- while others change some of the best-known lines in the show. "I'm a sweet transvestite from sensational Transylvania"? What, you can say "transvestite" but not "transexual"? Especially odd given that they used the derogatory version, "tranny", in an earlier scene. (Giving them the benefit of the doubt: as any Rocky cast member can tell you, "Tranny" is also short for "Transylvanian".)

On the other hand, the bowdlerizations made sense in the context of the show's plot, and were fairly clever from a metafictional standpoint. After all, the whole episode revolves around the simple fact that no public high school, anywhere, would ever actually put on Rocky Horror; the show being too kinky for public school works as a metaphor for it being too kinky for this timeslot, and also gives an in-plot explanation for why the lyrics are changed.

But...is it really too kinky for the timeslot? I've seen Rocky on broadcast TV, in prime time, nearly uncut. Hell, The Simpsons put Dr. Hibbert in Frank-N-Furter garb in 1995, and The Drew Carey Show did the same with Diedrich Bader two years later. Maybe Glee has a younger audience than those shows, but it doesn't seem like it's that much younger. And hell, didn't the slutty cheerleaders just make a reference to scissoring each other a couple of weeks ago?

And it's frankly a little mind-boggling that Rocky Horror would even be controversial after 35 years. Somewhere, I'm sure Richard O'Brien is counting his money and having a good chuckle at the fact that it still freaks out TV producers after all this time.

All in all...well, it was fun, the songs were nicely done, and if this introduces some 12-year-olds to Rocky for the first time, good on it. But on the other, the spirit of the work is clearly missing, and, most problematically, the core "It's okay to be different" message becomes "It's okay to be different (as long as you don't do anything more scandalous than walking around in boxers)." (Boxers. They didn't even put Brad in briefs, dammit.) Glee's been pretty gutsy in its positive portrayals of the LGB community up to this point, so it's just weird that it would suddenly get squeamish when the "T" rolled around.

If you'll forgive me an annoying, smug movie review-style closer: the message here seems to be "Don't be it, dream it."

List of Thundercats Episodes

First, a note on ordering, which is much more complicated with Thundercats than Silverhawks.

Regardless of what you may have seen on IMDb and various other sites, Thundercats ran four seasons, not two. Since the extent of the research the guys at Warner did for the Thundercats DVD release appears to have been "look it up on IMDb", the DVD's themselves give the wrong number of seasons.

(The best proof I've found for the four-season claim -- other than my own not-inconsiderable memory -- is on purrsiathunder.org. Purrsia has collected some original scripts, which are dated.)

(Also, if all goes well, you may be reading this at some point in the future when IMDb is no longer wrong. I'm trying to fix it but it's taken some time to convince the editors.)

(Update 2014-10-09: Per the excellent Hear the Roar! by David Crichton, there were two production seasons which were split into four broadcast seasons. The second production season was made up of 60 episodes and split into 3 broadcast seasons of 20 episodes, each added to syndication a year apart. Thanks to Mr. Crichton's book, I have finally convinced IMDb to fix its stupid madeup airdates.)

But it's still not that simple, because the original broadcast order of Thundercats was itself wrong, with first-season episodes airing out of story order -- notably, the Lion-O's Anointment arc aired with a bunch of episodes in-between instead of all five episodes running in a row. So there's an alternate order for those, too. Purrsia calls it the Modern Order. It's apocryphal, but I'm using it here because it makes a damn sight more sense than the broadcast order.

So, to wit, I've given three different versions of the numbering: MO for Modern Order, BO for Broadcast Order, and DVD for DVD order (which is the same as broadcast order but numbered differently).

Thundercats-Ho! aired as a TV movie and then was split up into 5 episodes. Note that numbering it as 1x66-70 is not strictly accurate, as it falls between season 1 and 2, but I'm using that numbering for sorting purposes.

So, to it.

Update 2014-10-09: Also per Hear the Roar, it may interest you to note that Julian P. Gardner is an alias used by Jules Bass. (Probably less interesting, but still notable: Bill Ratter is an alias used by a writer named Deborah Goodwin, who to my knowledge does not have any credits beyond Thundercats and Silverhawks.)

MO BO DVD Title Writer
1x01 1x01 1x01 Exodus Leonard Starr
1x02 1x02 1x02 The Unholy Alliance Leonard Starr
1x03 1x03 1x03 Berbils Leonard Starr
1x04 1x04 1x04 The Slaves of Castle Plun-Darr Leonard Starr
1x05 1x07 1x07 Trouble With Time Ron Goulart & Julian P. Gardner
1x06 1x05 1x05 Pumm-Ra Julian P. Gardner
1x07 1x06 1x06 The Terror of Hammerhand Ron Goulart & Julian P. Gardner
1x08 1x08 1x08 The Tower of Traps Leonard Starr
1x09 1x09 1x09 The Garden of Delights Barney Cohen & Julian P. Gardner
1x10 1x10 1x10 Mandora — The Evil Chaser William Overgard
1x11 1x11 1x11 The Ghost Warrior Leonard Starr
1x12 1x12 1x12 The Doomgaze Stephen Perry
1x13 1x13 1x13 Lord of the Snows Bob Haney
1x14 1x14 1x14 The Spaceship Beneath the Sands Leonard Starr
1x15 1x15 1x15 The Time Capsule Peter Lawrence
1x16 1x16 1x16 The Fireballs of Plun-Darr William Overgard
1x17 1x17 1x17 All That Glitters Bob Haney
1x18 1x18 1x18 Spitting Image Howard Post
1x19 1x37 1x37 Lion-O's Anointment First Day — The Trial of Strength Leonard Starr
1x20 1x42 1x42 Lion-O's Anointment Second Day — The Trial of Speed Leonard Starr
1x21 1x46 1x46 Lion-O's Anointment Third Day — The Trial of Cunning Leonard Starr
1x22 1x50 1x50 Lion-O's Anointment Fourth Day — The Trial of Mind Power Leonard Starr
1x23 1x61 1x61 Lion-O's Anointment Final Day — The Trial of Evil Leonard Starr
1x24 1x19 1x19 Mongor Peter Lawrence
1x25 1x20 1x20 Return to Thundera Bob Haney
1x26 1x25 1x25 Snarf Takes Up the Challenge Peter Lawrence
1x27 1x31 1x31 Mandora and the Pirates William Overgard
1x28 1x23 1x23 The Crystal Queen Leonard Starr
1x29 1x24 1x24 Safari Joe Stephen Perry
1x30 1x32 1x32 Return of the Driller Howard Post
1x31 1x45 1x45 Turmagar the Tuska C. H. Trengove
1x32 1x26 1x26 Sixth Sense Peter Lawrence
1x33 1x21 1x21 Dr. Dometone William Overgard
1x34 1x22 1x22 The Astral Prison Peter Lawrence
1x35 1x34 1x34 Queen of 8 Legs Stephen Perry
1x36 1x33 1x33 Dimension Doom Bob Haney
1x37 1x43 1x43 The Rock Giant Peter Lawrence
1x38 1x27 1x27 The Thunder-Cutter William Overgard
1x39 1x48 1x48 Mechanical Plague Peter Lawrence
1x40 1x38 1x38 The Demolisher Bob Haney & Peter Lawrence
1x41 1x29 1x29 Feliner, Part 1 Stephen Perry
1x42 1x30 1x30 Feliner, Part 2 Stephen Perry
1x43 1x51 1x51 Excalibur Peter Lawrence
1x44 1x52 1x52 Secret of the Ice King Bob Haney
1x45 1x35 1x35 Sword in a Hole William Overgard
1x46 1x28 1x28 The Wolfrat C. H. Trengove
1x47 1x53 1x53 Good and Ugly Peter Lawrence
1x48 1x55 1x55 Divide and Conquer Lee Schneider
1x49 1x41 1x41 The Micrits Bruce Smith
1x50 1x59 1x59 The Superpower Potion C. H. Trengove
1x51 1x36 1x36 The Evil Harp of Charr-Nin Douglas Bernstein & Denis Markell
1x52 1x40 1x40 Tight Squeeze Stephen Perry
1x53 1x39 1x39 Monkian's Bargain Lee Schneider
1x54 1x57 1x57 Out of Sight C. H. Trengove
1x55 1x44 1x44 Jackalman's Rebellion Bruce Smith
1x56 1x58 1x58 The Mountain Danny Peary
1x57 1x60 1x60 Eye of the Beholder Kenneth E. Vose
1x58 1x47 1x47 The Mumm-Ra Berbil Jeri Craden
1x59 1x62 1x62 The Trouble with Thunderkittens Kimberly B. Morris
1x60 1x63 1x63 Mumm-Rana Bob Haney
1x61 1x49 1x49 Trapped Stephen Perry
1x62 1x54 1x54 The Transfer Lawrence Dukore & Lee Schneider
1x63 1x64 1x64 The Shifter Matthew Malach
1x64 1x56 1x56 Dream Master Heather M. Winters & Annabelle Gurwitch
1x65 1x65 1x65 Fond Memories Lee Schneider
1x66 1x66 2x01 Thundercats-Ho! Part 1 Leonard Starr
1x67 1x67 2x02 Thundercats-Ho! Part 2 Leonard Starr
1x68 1x68 2x03 Thundercats-Ho! Part 3 Leonard Starr
1x69 1x69 2x04 Thundercats-Ho! Part 4 Leonard Starr
1x70 1x70 2x05 Thundercats-Ho! Part 5 Leonard Starr
2x01 2x01 2x06 Mumm-Ra Lives! Part 1 Leonard Starr
2x02 2x02 2x07 Mumm-Ra Lives! Part 2 Leonard Starr
2x03 2x03 2x08 Mumm-Ra Lives! Part 3 Leonard Starr
2x04 2x04 2x09 Mumm-Ra Lives! Part 4 Leonard Starr
2x05 2x05 2x10 Mumm-Ra Lives! Part 5 Leonard Starr
2x06 2x06 2x11 Catfight Chris Trengove
2x07 2x07 2x12 Psych Out Sandy Fries
2x08 2x08 2x13 The Mask of Gorgon Romeo Muller
2x09 2x09 2x14 The Mad Bubbler Kimberly Morris
2x10 2x10 2x15 Together We Stand Herb Engelhardt
2x11 2x11 2x16 Ravage Island George Hampton & Mike Moore
2x12 2x12 2x17 Time Switch Sandy Fries
2x13 2x13 2x18 The Sound Stones J. Larry Carroll
2x14 2x14 2x19 Day of the Eclipse Kimberly Morris
2x15 2x15 2x20 Sideswipe William Overgard
2x16 2x16 2x21 Mumm-Rana's Belt James Rose
2x17 2x17 2x22 Hachiman's Honor J. Larry Carroll
2x18 2x18 2x23 Runaways Bill Ratter
2x19 2x19 2x24 Hair of the Dog Chris Trengove
2x20 2x20 2x25 Vultureman's Revenge Herb Engelhardt
3x01 3x01 2x26 Thundercubs, Part 1 Peter Lawrence
3x02 3x02 2x27 Thundercubs, Part 2 Peter Lawrence
3x03 3x03 2x28 Thundercubs, Part 3 Peter Lawrence
3x04 3x04 2x29 Thundercubs, Part 4 Peter Lawrence
3x05 3x05 2x30 Thundercubs, Part 5 Peter Lawrence
3x06 3x06 2x31 Totem of Dera J. Larry Carroll
3x07 3x07 2x32 Chain of Loyalty Bill Ratter & Peter Lawrence
3x08 3x08 2x33 Crystal Canyon Sandy Fries
3x09 3x09 2x34 The Telepathy Beam Kimberly Morris
3x10 3x10 2x35 Exile Isle William Overgard
3x11 3x11 2x36 The Key to Thundera Matthew Malach
3x12 3x12 2x37 Return of the Thundercubs J. Larry Carroll
3x13 3x13 2x38 The Formula Kimberly Morris
3x14 3x14 2x39 Locket of Lies Bill Ratter
3x15 3x15 2x40 Bracelet of Power Bill Ratter
3x16 3x16 2x41 The Wild Workout Becky Hartman
3x17 3x17 2x42 The Thunderscope George Hampton & Mike Moore
3x18 3x18 2x43 The Jade Dragon William Overgard
3x19 3x19 2x44 The Circus Train William Overgard
3x20 3x20 2x45 The Last Day J. Larry Carroll
4x01 4x01 2x46 Return to Thundera! Part 1 Peter Lawrence
4x02 4x02 2x47 Return to Thundera! Part 2 Peter Lawrence
4x03 4x03 2x48 Return to Thundera! Part 3 Peter Lawrence
4x04 4x04 2x49 Return to Thundera! Part 4 Peter Lawrence
4x05 4x05 2x50 Return to Thundera! Part 5 Peter Lawrence
4x06 4x06 2x51 Leah J. Larry Carroll & David Carren
4x07 4x07 2x52 Frogman Kimberly Morris
4x08 4x08 2x53 The Heritage Bill Ratter & Peter Lawrence
4x09 4x09 2x54 Screwloose William Overgard
4x10 4x10 2x55 Malcar George Hampton & Mike Moore
4x11 4x11 2x56 Helpless Laughter Matthew Malach
4x12 4x12 2x57 Cracker's Revenge William Overgard
4x13 4x13 2x58 The Mossland Monster Chris Trengove
4x14 4x14 2x59 Ma-Mutt's Confusion Beth Bornstein
4x15 4x15 2x60 Shadowmaster Dennis J. Woodyard
4x16 4x16 2x61 Swan Song William Overgard
4x17 4x17 2x62 Touch of Amortus Bill Ratter
4x18 4x18 2x63 The Zaxx Factor Matthew Malach
4x19 4x19 2x64 Well of Doubt Dennis J. Woodyard
4x20 4x20 2x65 The Book of Omens William Overgard

This post originally used Stuart Langridge's sorttable but was updated 2014-10-09 to use jQuery, tablesorter, and parser-ignore-articles, and then on 2015-09-25 to use Mottie's tablesorter fork; icons courtesy of Font Awesome.

List of Silverhawks Episodes

# Title Writer
01 The Origin Story Peter Lawrence
02 Journey To Limbo Peter Lawrence
03 The Planet Eater William Overgard
04 Save The Sun Peter Lawrence
05 Stop Time Stopper Lee Schneider
06 Darkbird Steve Perry
07 The Backroom William Overgard
08 The Threat Of Drift Bruce Smith
09 Sky Shadow Kimberly Morris
10 Magnetic Atraction Chris Trengove
11 Gold Shield Bruce Smith
12 Zero The Memory Thief Jeri Craden
13 The Milk Run Lee Schneider
14 The Hardware Trap, Part 1 Peter Lawrence
15 The Hardware Trap, Part 2 Lee Schneider
16 Race Against Time Chris Trengove
17 Operation Big Freeze Jeri Craden
18 The Ghost Ship Chris Trengove
19 The Great Galaxy Race William Overgard
20 Fantascreen Steve Perry
21 Hotwing Hits Limbo Peter Lawrence
22 The Bounty Hunter J.V.P. Mundy
23 Zeek's Fumble Peter Lawrence
24 The Fighting Hawks Kimberly Morris
25 The Renegade Hero Leonard Starr
26 One On One William Overgard
27 No More Mr. Nice Guy Chris Trengove
28 Music Of The Spheres Lee Schneider
29 Limbo Gold Rush Steve Perry
30 Countdown To Zero Chris Trengove
31 Amber Amplifier Bill Ratter
32 The Saviour Stone Bob Haney
33 Smiley Bruce Shlain
34 Gotbucks Bob Haney
35 Melodia's Siren Song Lawrence Dukore
36 Tally-Hawk Returns Stephanie Swafford
37 Undercover Danny Peary
38 Eye Of Infinity Kenneth Vose
39 A Piece Of The Action Bruce Smith
40 Flashback Kimberly Morris
41 Super Birds Bruce Shlain
42 The Blue Door Cy Young
43 The Star Of Bedlama Kimberly Morris
44 The Illusionist Jeri Craden
45 The Bounty Hunter Returns Steve Perry
46 The Chase Bruce Smith
47 Switch Beth Bornstein & J.V.P. Mundy
48 Junkyard Dog Bob Haney
49 Window In Time J.V.P. Mundy
50 Gangwar, Part 1 William Overgard
51 Gangwar, Part 2 William Overgard
52 Sneak Attack, Part 1 Cy Young
53 Sneak Attack, Part 2 Cy Young
54 Moon-Star Peter Larson & Alice Knox
55 Diamond Stick-Pin Peter Lawrence
56 Burnout Bill Ratter
57 Battle Cruiser Lee Schneider
58 Small World Kimberly Morris
59 Match-Up Bruce Smith
60 Stargazer's Refit William Overgard
61 The Invisible Destroyer Dow Flint Kowalczyk
62 The Harder They Fall Chris Trengove
63 Uncle Rattler Beth Bornstein
64 Zeek's Power Matthew Malach
65 Airshow Peter Lawrence

Updated 2010-06-27 to make the table sortable, courtesy of Stuart Langridge's sorttable.

Updated 2014-10-09; switched to jQuery, tablesorter, and parser-ignore-articles; icons courtesy of Font Awesome.

Updated 2015-09-25: switched to Mottie's tablesorter fork.

Steve Perry

I was 26 before I heard Steve Perry's name, but I was probably 2 the first time I saw his work.

Perry was a writer for Thundercats, a cartoon that's always been dear to my heart. He made the news on comics sites last year, when Steve Bissette revealed Perry was dying of cancer and didn't have a dime to his name.

With help from the Hero Initiative, Perry pulled through, but this past Friday, news came out that he's missing and possibly murdered. Details are incomplete and grisly, and I feel like repeating them here would be exploitative; I'll just give a link to Bissette's blog instead.

But one thing that jumped out at me from that post:

I would welcome a complete listing of Steve's writing credits for [Thundercats and Silverhawks]; please note that the imdb listing for 'Steve Perry' is incorrect, conflating his TV writing credits with another animation writer named Steve Perry (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0675310/), who is possibly the science-fiction novelist Steve Perry. My friend Steve Perry only scripted for story editor Peter Lawrence on the two Rankin/Bass series noted here.

On top of everything else that's horrible about this story, it's not right that Perry's work is not known. And so I've gone through and compiled a list of the writers for each Thundercats episode myself -- I'll publish it in full shortly, but in the meantime, here's a list of Perry's episodes.

  • The Doomgaze
  • Safari Joe
  • Queen of 8 Legs
  • Feliner (2-parter)
  • Tight Squeeze
  • Trapped

(There may be a few more; I'll have to break out my VHS collection to check, as Warner decided some of the episodes on the DVD's didn't need title cards. Or background music. Or to be listed in the correct order. And that the last three years of the show were all the same season.)

Thundercats meant a lot to me. Perry and others filled my youth with fantasy and science fiction and magic and good and evil, with dreams of heroism and nightmares of Mumm-Ra watching me in his cauldron. The news about Perry serves as a jarring reminder of how nasty the real world is, and how unlike those fantasy worlds, where good always triumphs, evil fears its own reflection (at least until season 2), and despite an abundance of weapons, nobody ever really gets hurt.

Gail Simone has suggested honoring Perry by donating to the Hero Initiative, the organization responsible for giving Perry hope this past year. His plight is a tragically common one; there are a whole lot of people in the comics industry who don't see royalties from their work and who can't support themselves later in life.

Thank you, Steve Perry. Justice, truth, honor, and loyalty.

Form and Function

A few weeks back, I rented Hellboy: Sword of Storms. It was a neat little movie, and adhered pretty well to the the comics' folklore vibe. The highlight was a sequence adapting Heads.

And it occurred to me, you know, the best Hellboy stories are 8-page adaptations of folk tales, in which Hellboy himself plays only a minor role. Similarly, wouldn't it be great to see some 10-minute Hellboy animated shorts?

It's a real pity that both 8-page comic stories and 10-minute animated shorts have fallen by the wayside. DC, at least, seems interested in bringing them back: they've been doing 8-page "secondary features" in some of their popular titles, and next week's animated Crisis on Two Earths will also include a 10-minute Spectre short. Which is the perfect length for a Spectre story.

And of course all this has me thinking, Why 22 pages? Why 22 minutes? Why 6-issue arcs? Stories should take all the time they need; no more and no less.

Which isn't to say that rigid parameters can't foster creativity. The BioWare Writing Contest I participated in a few years back had some very tight guidelines -- only so many characters, only one location allowed, and that location has to be a pretty tiny square. But in a way, that stimulated creativity. Sometimes, you need parameters.

Douglas Adams is a favorite example. His best Hitchhiker's Guide work was written for radio, with a rigid three-act structure and length requirement for each episode, with the requisite pacing those things entail. Those episodes were adapted as the first two books of the Trilogy. The third, Life, the Universe and Everything, was adapted from an unused Doctor Who pitch, so it was conceived around a predefined structure as well. The last two books, where Adams took a more freestyle approach, tended to flail a bit; they were adapted by Dirk Maggs for radio a few years back and, for my money, worked much better with his judicious editing.

(The awesomeness of The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul does not fit my narrative as, to the best of my knowledge, it wasn't adapted from a radio or TV format. The first Dirk book was, though.)

There are plenty of writers who could benefit from tighter restrictions. Will Eisner put as much plot in a 7-page Spirit story as Brian Michael Bendis does in a 132-page Avengers arc. Sometimes I like longer, decompressed stories that spend more time on the scenery and the atmosphere. But there should still be a place for those weird little Hellboy stories.

I recently read Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall. Its pacing and form were noticeably different from the typical Fables books, because of its format: it was written as a graphic novel, rather than simply collecting 6 issues of a serial comic.

(A tangent on nomenclature: I absolutely despise the term graphic novel as it is commonly used, ie as a synonym for "comic book" used by people who think they're too cool for Spider-Man. However, it is a useful term when used in its original sense, ie a comic written in long form instead of being serialized in stapled, 22-page, monthly increments.)

Of course, 1001 Nights isn't a graphic novel so much as a graphic short story collection -- far from being a longform Fables story that takes its time, it's a series of stories which are shorter and tighter than a typical issue of Fables. So actually, it's more along the lines of those 8-page Hellboy stories I've been yammering about.

More in the "paced like a novel" vein would be DC's upcoming Earth One books. While it is obvious that these stories need to be published, as nobody has retold Superman's origin story in over three weeks, it's going to be interesting seeing them told with a little more breathing room, without the overwhelming, breakneck pace of Superman: Secret Origin.

I kid, but you know, the nice thing about constantly retelling Superman's origin is that now the Siegel heirs get a cut.

At any rate, once the rehashes are done, it would be quite nice to see DC tell some new stories with these characters in this format -- stories as long or as short as they need to be, at whatever pace suits the piece, without having to speed toward a cliffhanger every 22 pages.

V for Vendetta is actually a decent example -- yes, it was serialized, but its chapters don't fit into a consistent, forced length or pace. And while some of the chapters were climactic action sequences of V stabbing people a lot, others had him simply soliloquizing about anarchy.

(And funnily enough, the guy writing Earth One: Superman is J Michael Straczynski, the same guy whose The Brave and the Bold is currently the best 22-page superhero book that actually tells 22-page stories -- but whose run on Thor was decompressed, organic, and even meandering. Which is not a criticism, as I loved his Thor; it's just a statement that the man can write very well in different formats.)

If the world is a just and beautiful place, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is a template for the future of television. It manages the rather neat trick of adhering to a rigid structure that also just happens to be noticeably different from the traditional structure of a TV show: three 13-minute acts, each itself featuring a beginning, a middle, an end, and four songs. It's similar to, but distinct from, the standard three-act structure and 44-minute length of an American TV show.

Even The Daily Show -- God, not a week goes by anymore but one of the interviews goes over. Which is swell, but the way this is handled online is completely boneheaded: if you go to Full Episodes on thedailyshow.com, or view an episode on Hulu, you get the broadcast episode, which shows the truncated interview, followed by an admonition to check out the website, followed by Moment of Zen and credits. I can see this as an unfortunate requirement for broadcast, but guys, Internet videos can be more than 22 minutes. Why in the hell do I have to click through to a different page on the site (or, if I'm watching from Hulu, a different site entirely) to watch the rest of the interview? It's viewer-unfriendly, especially if you use your PC as a media center hooked up to your TV. Cut the full interview into the damn episode. Add an extra commercial in the middle if you have to. (It would be swell if you didn't show the exact same commercial at every single break, but that's a separate presumably-silly-and-useless "rant".)

At least they've wised up a little and started showing just the first part of the interview in the broadcast episode and then showing the rest in the "Full Interview" link on the website. It used to be they'd show a chopped-up version of the interview in the broadcast episode, meaning that instead of the Full Interview link picking up where the show left off, it had five minutes' worth of the same content spread out across it.

You know, it seems like the youngest of the major media is also the one with the least rigid requirements for length. Video games can be anything from a three-second WarioWare microgame to a persistent world that players sink years into. People may grouse a bit that Portal or Arkham Asylum is too short, but it doesn't prevent them from being highly-regarded, bestselling titles.

Which is, of course, not to say that longer games don't have to function under tight restrictions. They're often very high-budget affairs with a hell of a lot of people involved (as Dragon Age tries to forcibly remind you with its absurdly slow credits crawl) -- programmers, writers, artists, and so on. The Mass Effect games have voiced player dialogue and let the player choose Shepard's sex, which means every single one of those lines has to be recorded twice. (And frankly that doesn't seem like enough variety -- I have a Samuel L Jackson lookalike who says "aboot".)

And those restrictions are probably why every dialogue choice in ME is broken up into a predictable paragon/neutral/renegade choice. That kind of very-unsubtle delineation is exactly the sort of thing western RPG developers have been trying to get out of (as in both The Witcher and Dragon Age), but in the context of ME it works quite well -- I've even tried my hand at writing in a three-choices, no-hubs dialogue style and it works very organically. (For the ludicrous amount of dialogue in Dragon Age, there were places I could see the seams showing -- spots where I'd have three dialogue options and, as soon as the NPC spoke, knew that all three led to that exact same response. But that's probably a lot harder to notice if you've never written a dialogue tree yourself, and it's certainly an artform in and of itself, giving a response that works equally well for three different questions. I can only think of one occasion in the dozens of hours of Dragon Age where a writer screwed up and had a question hub that began with an NPC answering a specific question in a way that didn't make any sense if the dialogue looped back.)

And of course it's the medium that allows this kind of longform storytelling. Game length is no longer restricted by the arcade environment. Which is, of course, not to say that short-play games don't get made anymore -- Street Fighter 4 is a high-budget, "hardcore gamer" example, but Nintendo's entire business is built around games a casual player can pick up and play for ten minutes at a time. Ditto every Flash game on the Web, and most games on the iPhone.

And, indeed, Internet delivery is going to liberate other media from their restrictions. Eventually, we're bound to see shows like The Daily Show just run more than 22 minutes if they have to, and, God willing, we'll see more offbeat stuff like Dr. Horrible. The Web's given us comics as diverse as Achewood, Dr. McNinja, Templar, Arizona, and FreakAngels, and cartoons from Adventure Time to Homestar Runner to Charlie the Unicorn to Gotham Girls to the complete version of Turtles Forever. It's also allowed MST3K to continue in the form of the downloadable RiffTrax and the direct-order Cinematic Titanic.

Variety is the spice of life. I love comics -- and yeah, that includes mainstream superhero comics. But I'm sick of all of them having the exact same structure. Fortunately, I think we're on the edge of an age of experimentation.

Or another damn market crash. It is an odd-numbered decade now, after all.

Presumably Silly and Useless "Rant"

All right, you know what? I'll tone down the cursing since a lot of my referrals are still coming from my BioWare interview, but the events of the past couple days necessitate a good strong rant.

First of all, it's been the longest week at work since I started this job. Which, overall, is a good thing; I think we're going to get some good business from my efforts. But things got a bit stressful on Tuesday, repetitive yesterday, and repetitive yesterday.

And then there's coming home to find that my epic-level POS of a DVR box -- the infamous Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8000 -- was dead. I've been paying Cox entirely too much money for this joke of a system because I can't afford TiVo; hopefully when I get my 90-day raise I'll be able to make the switch. I'll have to hold my nose a bit given my intense political dislike of TiVo, but it beats the hell out of this calamity of a cable box.

So of course that leaves me waiting for the cable guy for three hours on Sunday.

And this morning, my AC was leaking. Dangerously closely, I might add, to the shelves where I keep my entire 16-bit console game collection. So I moved the shelves, put down some towels and pots, kicked the AC up to 80 degrees, headed to work, and made a maintenance request. But I think I should probably run back home at lunch to empty those pots in case maintenance hasn't shown up yet.

And there's one more thing bugging me, but it's a subject I promised myself I would never, ever complain about on my blog, so, in the interest of keeping my dignity and self-respect, I will instead complain about that godawful "I am woman, hear me roar" parody in the new Burger King commercials, which keeps getting stuck in my head. Everyone involved in any aspect of creating that commercial is in serious need of a good cock-punch. I grant that this applies to damn near everybody in the advertising industry, but this commercial deserves its own special place in Hell.

Anyway. It's been a weird damn twenty-four hours.

But on the plus side, they've announced the Han shoots first editions of Star Wars on DVD.