Television: December 2009 Archives

EDITOR'S NOTE: To bring "Project: Fear Itself" to a fitting conclusion, Craig J. Clark ventured to the Northwest suburbs of Chicago in order to view the final episode, "The Circle," with Joe Blevins in person. What follows is a transcript of their post-show conversation.

Craig: So...

Joe: Sew buttons.

Craig: Yeah. And to think I drove all the way up here from southern Indiana for that.

Joe: Hey, it's better than what Johnathon Screech or whatever came up with for the screenplay to "The Circle." Wait, is it a screenplay? Isn't teleplay the word?

Craig: It is, and I actually was talking about the teleplay. And the guy's last name is Schaech, by the way, and he's not the only one responsible for this mess of an episode. His writing partner Richard Chizman (although Cheeseman might be more appropriate) is equally to blame.

Joe: I guess I was thinking of "Screech" because "The Circle" was roughly as scary as an episode of, let's say, Saved By the Bell: The College Years. Actually, not quite as scary. The people in this episode only had to deal with glum trick-or-treaters and this big wall of ink outside their remote cabin. They didn't have to face Dustin Diamond or Mario Lopez. That would have been more terrifying.

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"Pinch hitting for Pedro Borbon... Manny Mota... Mota... Mota..." - ROBERT HAYS

"You ever have really strong déjà vu?" - AARON STANFORD

If you'll permit the indulgence, before I get to "Echoes" -- the penultimate episode of Fear Itself -- I feel there's something I have to get off my chest. I'm beginning to worry about Joe. I hate to say it, but I think this project may have finally broken him.

Remember last summer, when his Fear Itself reviews contained wild flights of fancy about kinky senior citizens and improbable trips to Morocco and so forth? Well, look at them now. For the past few weeks my colleague has done little more than morosely catalog each ensuing episode's shortcomings (of which, it must be said, there have been many) and throw in an off-hand reference to the Coen Brothers or Bugs Bunny and call it a day. What happened to the bright young Mr. Blevins who would use the tools of satire to extol the virtues of nepotism in the entertainment industry or write an entire installment as if he were Marty McFly addressing the president of NBC? Sadly, I fear the will to sustain such an elaborate construct has been beaten out of him by the paucity of creativity on display in the show itself, which begs the question: Is this what we were supposed to fear? Not fear itself (or even Fear Itself), but rather the dulling of the imagination? Maybe so, maybe so...

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While watching "The Spirit Box," yet another previously-unaired episode of Fear Itself, I could not help but hearken back to the convoluted origins of one of America's favorite cartoon characters, Bugs Bunny. The mischievous rabbit was not the creation of any one man, though several directors at Warner Brothers have taken credit for him over the years. Instead, everything we know about the character -- his name, his appearance, his personality, his trademark comedy bits -- took shape over a number of cartoons released between 1938 and 1940. Even Bugs's deathless catch phrase was a collaborative effort. Bob Clampett came up with the first draft -- "What's up, duke?" -- which Tex Avery would later refine to "doc." Years later, talking to a biographer, Avery would remark on the effect the phrase first had on audiences: "They expected the rabbit to scream or anything but make a casual remark. For here's a guy pointing a gun in his face! It got such a laugh that we said, 'Boy, we'll do that every chance we get.'"

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This page is an archive of entries in the Television category from December 2009.

Television: November 2009 is the previous archive.

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