TVPB Lexicon: The Canada Problem

Clearly, if you’ve been reading this blog, you know we at MTV, MPB have no problem with our neighbors to the North.  In this case the “problem” belongs to Canada (and others, but we saw it with Canada first, so they got the name).  This particular “problem” continues to amuse us.  It has to do with their film and tv industry and it’s made all the more obvious by the amount of shows here in the US that are made in Canada:

You keep seeing the same people.

Seriously, if you’ve seen The X-Files?  You’ve seen the bulk of the available acting force in Canada.  If you’ve  seen X-Files and also Stargate, BSG and Anne of Green Gables?  I think you’ve got at least 99.9% of them.  If you’re watching Psych these days, you get to reap the benefits of going, “Dude that was so and so on Stargate AND he was in the X-Files.”  Then you get one-upped by someone who points out the person was in a brief scene in Anne of Avonlea.

It’s become a game with us.  In fact, it probably ought to be a drinking game.  1 drink if you saw them in Stargate SG1.  Two if they were in X-Files.  Three if they were in the X-Files twice (it happened!)….

It’s not strictly something that happens in Canada.  It appears the Canada problem also exists in Mexico.  I watched one telenovela and it’s allowed me to bounce up and down in my seat and squeal upon recognizing multiple actors in every single Mexican movie and TV show I’ve watched since.  Mexico?  Has a Canada problem.

I’m sure by now you’re trying to think of other countries with a Canada problem.  Britain seems to come to mind for people who are first experimenting with the term “Canada Problem” but this really isn’t correct.  Britain does have some significant faces you see repeatedly, but proportionally speaking, it’s not really that great.  You have to watch a lot of different British TV, movies and miniseries before you can really say you’ve seen the bulk of their actors, and they seem to churn out new ones (really good new ones) with amazing regularity.

I’ve got an eye open for others myself.  Colombia may be a candidate.  I’ve only sampled part of two telenovelas and one movie.  The telenovelas seem to have some overlap, but my sample size is too small to make a judgement at this point (it’s certainly not overwhelmingly clear as it was with Mexico).  India’s Bollywood scene begs for examination as well, but for reasons that will be illuminated in another post, my statistical sampling of India’s offerings has been thrown off.

If you’ve got other potentials, feel free to share in the comments.  We’re always eager to know where this problem has spread (we’re also eager to hear about other foreign film and tv)….

TVPB Lexicon: The Give-a-damn-o-meter

As Kristy established, in her field of study, it’s important to define terms.  The same goes for my field of law–we love to define, particularly within the context of a single document.  And, I’ll admit, I take sick pleasure in responding to the queries of co-workers with, “Well, that all depends on how you’re defining…..”

So, in the context of MTVMPB, let’s go over the term “give-a-damn-o-meter.”  You may pronouncie this either with the “o” shortened as in “Thermometer” or as a long “o” as in “o’clock.”  Whatever floats your boat and suits your purpose at the time.

As to what it is, the make up of the word gives you clues, but it also over-simplifies this complex concept.  At the heart of it is the fact that each one of has a finite amount of caring we can expend on things in a prescribed period of time.  Once depleted, we are unable to care or “give a damn” until the well is replenished.  When when depleted, clearly a physical measurement would be zero.  The Give-a-damn-o-meter reflects this in the same way your gas gage reflects the amount of fuel in your car.  When it’s pegged on “E” you’re in deep kimche.

But there’s more than this.  The amount of “give a damn” each of us is allotted is actually subdivided according to what it is being applied to.  For example, I have almost infinite amounts of give-a-damn for, say, Babylon 5.  This being the case, it’s rare to employ the Give-A-Damn-O–Meter for things we enjoy–when there’s so much to go around, it’s silly to bother keeping track.  However, the amount of give-a-damn I have for dealing with arrogant, know-it-all bastards who talk down to me and wear smug expressions?  Well, there are radio controlled cars with bigger tanks, I’ll say that much.  With so little distance between F and E on the Give-A-Damn-O-Meter in that case, it’s perfectly acceptable to note that “my give-a-damn-o-meter is almost pegged.”  To add complexity, when the Give-A-Damn-O-Meter is running low in relation to one thing, it can actually start to impact the amount of give a damn for other things.  That arrogant bastard?  Once an encounter with him sends my Give-A-Damn-O-Meter into decimal places, the amount of give a damn I have for other things, like dealing with paperwork or annoying grocery shoppers, is likewise decreased.  The full connection between various discrete Give-A-Damn-O-Meters had yet to be fully detailed, but the general observation of universal decrease is undeniable.

We at MTVMPB hope that we have made you more aware of your own Give-A-Damn-O-Meters and that you will utilized this important measure to communicate your amount of Give-A-Damn to others in your life….who may or may not give-a-damn themselves.

TVPB Lexicon: Appendix Kiss

In scholarship one of the things they always emphasize is that you need to define your terms from the outset.  People define words differently and if you don’t make it clear how you’re using a term you can confuse the heck out of your readers.  Or worse, make them think you’re saying something other than what you’re actually saying.

So I feel it’s important for us here at It’s My TV, It’s My Peanut Butter to define our terms.  So that we can be clear.  And so that you, our gentle and not-so-gentle readers know what the heck we’re talking about.

Today we venture into the peanut buttery lexicon for an important fangirly term:  “Appendix kiss”  This word derives from a phrase used by a college buddy of ours.  Describing one television kiss she said, “Well, with that kiss he could go, ‘hey, I see you had your appendix out when you were twelve.’”  And it stuck.  Hence forth an “appendix kiss” has referred to those over the top, super deep (at least to outward appearances, we realize they’re acting) kisses that make shippers go “SQUEE!”

The original appendix kiss is in The X-Files episode “Triangle.”  It was memorable enough to provoke Cammy’s happy dance which is truly something to behold.  In Farscape when Aeryn and John were stuck in the Flax?  Serious appendix kiss.  I’m sure there were a couple in BSG, but can’t remember episodes off the top of my head and am stranded without my DVDs.  Soap operas have perfected the art of the appendix kiss; I can’t even begin to list them.

What say you readers?  Do you have a favorite appendix kiss moment?

Bring me the Funny!

Today we explore an important, commonly used phrase in the My TV, My Peanut Butter lexicon:

“To bring the funny” (verb phrase)

Definition:  To amuse us.  To include humor.  To entertain.

Etymology:  While I cannot say with any degree of certainty that this was the origin of the phrase in general, the phrase was first introduced to Kristy and Cammy through The West Wing episode “Seventeen People.”  Incidentally, this was the episode I used to convince Cammy that she did, in fact, love The West Wing and that she wanted to continue watching it obsessively with me (Ainsley Hayes was my secret weapon).  In this episode the phrase is used as a critique of a speech written for the White House Correspondents’ dinner which was apparently less than entertaining.  The writers “forgot to bring the funny” and one of the plots of the episode is a large portion of the cast attempting to “find the funny” in order to make the speech successful.

Cammy and I frequently use this as a critique of television episodes (or fanfics.  Don’t judge) that fail to amuse us the way we want to.  Such episodes “forget to bring the funny” or “don’t bring the funny.”  When West Wing kinda sucked for a couple seasons, it was largely because it forgot to bring the funny.  Incidentally, the phrase “the funny” can occasionally be used as a stand alone phrase to mean “that which makes something amusing.”  My good buddy Russell once insisted that a missing nuclear submarine qualified as “the funny” but I’m still less than convinced.

A particular character may be praised for “bringing the funny.”  Cammy likes her almost namesake on Bones because “she brings the funny.”

It is important to understand that neither Cammy nor I tend to watch comedies.  I would never say “How I Met Your Mother brings the funny.”  It would not be incorrect so much as unidiomatic.  “Bringing the funny” is something that happens mostly in otherwise serious situations; it is a technique for creating levity which helps us process and cope with said situations.  The aforementioned West Wing episode is a great example.  The major plotline of the episode is heavy and ominous, but it is balanced by “the funny” of the speech writing and Ainsley/Sam, Josh/Donna banter.  (I’m being deliberately vague since one of our five readers has just finished West Wing Season 1 and I don’t want to spoil the brilliance of this episode).

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that if you want My TV, My Peanut Butter to enjoy something, it definitely helps to bring the funny.  And if we are able to bring the funny, even a little bit, here on our little blog, well that makes us extremely happy.

Cliffhanger Sunday!

Today marks the 30th Anniversary of perhaps the most notorious cliffhanger in television history:  On Dallas J.R. Ewing was shot by an unknown assailant and “Who shot J.R.?” became entered into the colloquial lexicon forever.  I don’t remember That episode–if I watched it it would have had to have been in a past life.  But I do love me a good cliffhanger.  And by love I mean hate with a passion.  And enjoy every second of.  Because I’m a horrible masochist.

*Warning, the rest of this blog entry will contain spoilers for episodes of various series that aired some time ago.  If you’re one of those who is still slowly working your way though Star Trek: The Next Generation or some other series, trying your darndest not to find out what will happen in the end, I apologize.  If you watch your shows within a year of their broadcast, you should be fine.* (later blog entry to come on expiration dates for spoilers)

So what are your favorite cliffhangers?

A friend of mine once declared the end of The Two Towers (the book, not the movie) to be the greatest cliffhanger in history.  It didn’t do it for me.  If memory serves (my copy of TTT is at the parents house) the novel ends with Frodo being carried off by the orcs.  A good cliffhanger, I’ll grant you, but I’ve read too many epics and epic like tales to have believed for a second Frodo wouldn’t be found.  Only way he was going to die before the end would be if it was a heroic act of self sacrifice.  But it helped that Return of the King was on the bookshelf and I only had to walk across the room to find out what happened.

This makes me wonder, does there have to be genuine fear or uncertainty of the outcome for a cliffhanger to be effective?  I’m not sure there does.

One of my favorite cliffhangers is the end of season 1 of Farscape.  Crais takes off with Talyn, Moya starbursts away, John and D’argo are stranded out in open space, D’argo’s unconscious and Aeryn can’t get to them.  Damn!  (For added info on the impact of this cliffhanger on my psyche, I got hooked on Farscape in Peru where they were about a season behind us.  This cliffhanger was the last episode I saw there, then I came home to find the US in the middle of season 2.  I knew things had worked out, but it was a long while before I found out how.)  Now I didn’t think for a second they were going to kill off half the cast, but I didn’t know but what they might kill one or two.  And I was on the edge of my seat in the wrong hemisphere.

The final episode of Farscape would have made an excellent cliffhanger if the show hadn’t been canceled, turning it instead into the Worst Show Ending Ever.  (I realize it was eventually resolved by the less than stellar Peacekeeper Wars, but that doesn’t kill the sting)

I enjoyed the season 1 “Who’s at the door?” cliffhanger on Veronica Mars even if it was a little silly.

Whatever season of the X-Files it was that ended with Mulder disappearing and Scully being knocked-up was kind of fun in a fangirl “Squee”y kind of way.

Battlestar Galactica had an interesting take on cliffhangers.  They ended Season 2, for example, by jumping forward a year.  All of a sudden Apollo was fat, Starbuck had bad hair, and the cylons were invading.  We were left wondering not only, “What the hell is going to happen?” but also “What the hell happened?”  Double cliffhanger.  Nice.

There are a group of cliffhangers I wish I could have been a part of.  Star Trek:  The Next Generation in “Best of Both Worlds: Part 1” I wish I could have been there for that moment when we saw Borg!Picard.  (I’ve seen this moment, but only years down the road, knowing what was going to happen)  Back in 1990 I can only imagine the thrill of the “WTF?” the audience was feeling.

So yeah, cliffhangers, the evil thing that the television gods do to us and we thank them for it.