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Wednesday, May 1

May 1, 2013

Spongebob:   Finished watching Shrew. For Monday, your homework is to analyze the following characters, according to our list of archetypes:

Lucentio — the student who masquerades as a tutor
Tranio — his servant, who masquerades as Lucentio
Baptista — father of Bianca and Katherina
Katherina — the difficult older daughter
Bianca — the younger daughter, who can’t be married until her sister is married
Petruchio — the husband of Katherina, who marries and tries to “tame” her

Your response does not have to be typewritten, but please use examples in your response, similar to what you did for the midterm. It won’t be as long, but I do expect you to back up your arguments with examples and comparisons.

New Media: Today you shared the results of your “tiny research project.” If you didn’t post your materials to The Battleship, do it as soon as you possibly can, as this is what I’ll be basing your grade upon.

Completion of the reading is due on Monday and there will be an assessment to see if you did it. Annotations are recommended.

Family Values: Today we discussed All in the Family, and your responses to the various characters. Takeaways:
1. Archie and Edith were the clear favorites; Gloria and Mike were not.
2. No character comes without baggage. Archie really is a bigot. Edith really is a dingbat. Mike really is insufferable, and Gloria really is shrill. But these characters are complex and multidimensional — there were sides to them that your average sitcom character hadn’t had a chance to display.
3. There were a number of “firsts” associated with this show, from the subject matter covered to things like the sound of a “terlet” flushing. In short, if you previously couldn’t do it on TV, there’s a good chance it was attempted during the show’s run.
4. The show, like a lot of early ’70s shows, was an urban/suburban comedy that reflected perhaps the single biggest change in TV to that point: the use of demographics. It wasn’t enough to just have high ratings; if your show didn’t attract the right kind of viewers (18-40, Northeastern, educated, affluent), it could be canceled (like all the rural sitcoms from the ’60s).
5. However, the demographics of AITF changed, and that reflected something that probably wasn’t planned. (By the end of the show’s run, two major sponsors were Geritol and Preparation H.)
This was a show about a guy who was besieged by the changing modern world, an old-fashioned, inflexible patriarch who couldn’t even get any peace in his own “castle.” He fought modernity and constantly lost, and certainly his attitudes (especially about race and gender) reflected a bygone era. This was something that the show’s creator, Norman Lear — a dyed-in-the-wool liberal — certainly wanted to depict.
There was just one problem: Americans loved Archie Bunker. Maybe it’s too poetic, but we could say that in Archie, many people saw something they could relate to — a fear that the world was moving and changing too fast, that some good old values were being thrown out with the outdated attitudes. Of course, he was funny, and that helped. So if Archie, and the response to him, was partly an accident, the result was that AITF became the highest-rated show on TV for five straight years, with Nielsen ratings above 30 in some cases.
6. AITF was based on the British sitcom Till Death Do Us Part. We watched the first five or six minutes in class:

It’s pretty easy to see who’s who; what you can’t see is that Alf Garnett never became a beloved figure like Archie Bunker. The show, like a lot of British shows, was a little too sharp and cynical. There’s nothing sentimental about it.
7. Finally, AITF was not only a success, it also spawned three hit series: Maude, Good Times and The Jeffersons. We’ll have a look at them shortly, but Friday we’ll begin with the Tandem Productions show that was the closest relative to AITF: Sanford and Son.

BatCat Press:

Seventh Grade: Spelling quiz, then the Twilight Zone episode “Stop at Willoughby.” Extra credit opportunity for next week (the last extra credit opportunity this year): write about a dream you had that was so lifelike you almost couldn’t tell it was a dream when you woke up. Requirement: you must not summarize (“Once I had a dream that was incredibly lifelike!”) and I want you to start your response in the dream. (“I was alone, the last person on Earth, and I was surrounded by zombies…” Etc.)

Survey: Screenwriting: Today we took a break from the screenwriting and instead did a photo prompt for LAVA. If you were absent, you are off the hook. Thanks for your participation.

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