January reading: Nelson DeMille’s Word of Honor. Bit long (like, hi, an editor can help you cut things out, you know); gets down to the nitty-gritty of how bad wars are bad (Vietnam War vet’s covering up of war crimes comes to haunt him real bad; feels very 1980’s because the book was written and published in the 1980’s). Good subway read.
NY Times’ Stuart Elliott reports on the trend of using penguins as advertising spokesanimals. Yeah, you know, ’cause penguins are so darn cute. I blame it entirely on “March of the Penguins” and “Happy Feet.”
In honor of Iwao Takamoto’s passing, Slate republishes/re-posts its Appreciation for the Scooby-Doo thing. Apparently, in 2004, Chris Suellentrop said:
Here’s the easiest way to comprehend the longevity of Scooby-Doo: Casey Kasem has been doing the voice of Shaggy (Norville Rogers, if you insist on his given name) for longer than he hosted his weekly Top 40 radio show. He started voicing Shaggy in 1969, the year before American Top 40 debuted, and he’s still got the part, on television in the WB’s Saturday-morning cartoon, What’s New Scooby-Doo?, and in the direct-to-video movies the franchise keeps churning out. [….]
But beyond making comparisons to the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, or citing the general appeal of talking dogs, or noting that Daphne is as sexualized as a kiddie cartoon character gets, it’s difficult to say exactly why the show has had such a long-standing appeal. It’s not as if the show’s animator, Iwao Takamoto—his other creations include the Great Gazoo of The Flintstones and Grape Ape—is an unheralded genius, a mystery-genre Tex Avery or Walt Disney. “I never got it,” complained Mitchell Kriegman, the creator of Nickelodeon’s Clarissa Explains It All, to the Boston Globe a few years back. “It’s got kind of a slacker appeal, a no-resistance story line.” Animators and children’s TV creators around the world must see Scooby and ask themselves: Why can’t my crappy show become iconic? [….]
TV snobs surely see Scooby‘s ineffable charms as another brick in the wall of American decline, the latest example of how we’re all slouching toward Toon Town. As if our children should all be watching The Sopranos. Maybe Scooby‘s appeal makes sense when you compare it to the rest of kids’ TV. The most ham-handed of children’s shows try to stuff a moral message down the audience’s throat. But the moral code of Scooby-Doo permeates the entire enterprise without you ever noticing it. The Washington Post‘s Hank Stuever concisely elucidated the “Scooby worldview” when the first live-action movie came out: “Kids should meddle, dogs are sweet, life is groovy, and if something scares you, you should confront it.” What needs to be explained about that?
“Ugly Betty” on Thursday night – very interesting episode. Poor Daniel learns that Sophia was toying with him all along (Salma Hayek played the character’s less-kind side so well, that it was hard to really believe her at the end, when she tells Daniel that he wasn’t what she thought after all). Poor Wilhelmina gives up her nicer side because love burned her. And Betty – does she realize that she’s unemployed now? I certainly hope next week’s episode will get us on the path of wrapping up the conspiracy storyline, which is no fun at all.
Wantedf to catch more of “The O.C.” as it pursues the road to its series finale, but – good grief – the time slot is up against “Grey’s Anatomy.” Dr. Izzie – do you realize that you can use your $8 million inheritance to help others get medical treatment? And, once again, Meredith’s family issues rear their ugly heads.