Originality Takes a Back Seat as Television Mimics the Movies

If you thought your TV was a safe haven unsaturated by comic book adaptations, think again.

Culture writer Vincent Mancuso laments television's lack of originality in this piece up at New York Observer. Sure, this being the so-called "Golden Age" of television means that we've got great shows built on original concepts like Breaking Bad and Mad Men. But so much else is based on tried-and-true faces, formulas, and franchises. And that bothers Mancuso:

"Television quality has no doubt changed recently - overwhelmingly for the positive, mind you - but how so? Let’s take a look at the majority of shows generating buzz for Fall or recently getting greenlit: Gotham, Constantine, The Flash, Daredevil, Teen Titans, Supergirl, iZombie, etc, etc ad infinitum. 

Adaptations, spinoffs, re-tellings. Familiarity, familiarity, familiarity. Comfort. Being able to say 'oh I’ll watch that as TV, it was really good as that other thing.'"

In a way, Mancuso is accusing television of chasing the bait that has served Hollywood so well in recent years. Sure, if you live in New York or L.A. you have the opportunity to see indie and art house films whenever you like. For everyone else, the menu selections are almost wholly adaptations, sequels, and remakes. Is this the direction that television is trending toward?Mancuso thinks so. He points out that even "original" shows tend to feature established stars or be headed by familiar showrunners. Any new debut that doesn't fit the paradigm meets a swift end. To Mancuso, it's all becoming "security blanket" entertainment.

Of course, the counterpoint is that television has always been a security blanket. For example, very rarely has traditional sitcom structure been tinkered with over the past 70 years. Multi-camera shows like The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men are popular because they play by the same rules that Lucy Ricardo and Jack Tripper did generations before. Things are this way because, as the numbers will show, it's what the people want. A television is a mirror. Stare into the screen and you'll see but a reflection of the society tuning in. 

So perhaps Mancuso's gripe isn't actually with the shows, but rather the audience. It's an interesting thing to think about. What say you?

Read more at New York Observer 

Photo credit:  BrAt82 / Shutterstock

How to make a black hole

Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.

  • There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
  • CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
  • Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
  • Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.

Russian reporters discover 101 'tortured' whales jammed in offshore pens

Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Russian news network discovers 101 black-market whales.
  • Orcas and belugas are seen crammed into tiny pens.
  • Marine parks continue to create a high-price demand for illegal captures.
Keep reading Show less

China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Keep reading Show less