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CSotD: Legends and Truths and Endings of Either

Joy of Tech got out ahead of the flood of post-GOT commentary, and did so with a piece that would work no matter how things turned out.

I’m not one of those people who takes pride in having not watched something everyone else was talking about, but I gave Game of Thrones a try and couldn’t get into it.

Then again, I never got into Tolkien, and I gave that a try as well, and absorbed enough of it that I got a laugh out of “Bored of the Rings,” the Harvard Lampoon send-up, with Dildo and Frito Bugger.

You’re not required to like everything and it’s certainly fun to share enthusiasm. I like dogs and the Houston Texans and NCAA Softball and a number of things that I don’t expect everyone to care about.

But someone noted on Facebook that, when M*A*S*H ended, it had a huge audience but there was no social media where people could share their feelings about the ending, and in the comments, people brought up the endings of Seinfeld and the second Bob Newhart Show and the Mary Tyler Moore Show as well as the Sopranos.

And it struck me that one problem with endings is that American television shows in particular go on too long. There’s an old saying from vaudeville that you should always leave them asking for more, but TV shows tend to wait for entropy to be firmly established and audience to be falling off.

Under those circumstances, it’s hard to come up with anything better than the famous Bob Newhart ending in which he wakes up back in the show everyone loved.

Though the Seinfeld ending was more of a deliberate slap in the face from the writers, who finally got to admit that they hated the characters by killing them in an airplane accident and then putting them through a surreal Final Reckoning, toting up examples of their selfishness and cruelty, and giving them a “No Exit” sentence of being stuck in a small room with each other.

I gather from the chatter on social media that the entire last season of GOT was a shark-jump, mostly because I haven’t seen anyone step forward to defend it.

The real question in any of this is why you need an ending at all. Fawlty Towers simply quit making episodes, while Blackadder kept changing settings to freshen things, before also just no longer making the show.


 I could have made it a Juxtaposition

xkcd also delves into cultural icons, and poses a sort of conundrum, though I’m not sure the extent to which the genre has, indeed, survived.

That is, Dennis the Menace always played cowboys and Indians, and we did, too, 60-some years ago.

And, BTW, while the stereotype of the Indian was certainly regrettable, we didn’t mind being Indians. By contrast, when we played war, we’d quarrel over who got to be the Americans and who had to be the Japanese or Germans.

But I don’t remember my kids playing Cowboys and Indians very much, if at all, and they’re now in their 40s.

The Old West persists as a setting for dramas, but they’ve long since cast off the traditional trappings of the genre.

Owen Wister set the adult archetype with “The Virginian,” which gained the approbation of people like Russell, Remington and Roosevelt who had been there, while Ned Buntline and the other writers of pulp fiction created the more blood-soaked, fictionalized hero to thrill the hearts of an increasingly urbanized youth.


And Buffalo Bill brought his Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World to thrill towns that had no movies or television.

Two bits of trivia:

Before this (1895), Cody did stage shows and one year he brought his friend Bill Hickock along, but Hickock couldn’t remember his lines and the two of them got into some very heavy drinking at night. The experiment only lasted part of one season.

On a happier note, the Indians from various tribes — who reportedly enjoyed the travel and felt well-treated — had a “native village” for tourists to examine, where after hours they would exchange dance steps, which was the origin of the competitions seen at modern pow wows.

In any case, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” is having its half-century anniversary and I think that, if you were going to have a “final episode” of the Western, that affectionate take on the genre was probably it.

Everything since has seemed a reversal of the genre: Westerns today feature mud, drunkenness, cussin’ and whorin’ and all sorts of things that might have been part of the reality but aren’t part of the American Archetype.

Which is to say, they might be set in the West, but they aren’t “Westerns” any more than GOT was a “Chivalric Romance.”


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Sherman’s Lagoon)

(Pearls Before Swine)

I’m not real clear on the existence of “bloopfish,” but I’ve learned not to question the basis of storylines in Sherman’s Lagoon. Jim Toomey has an underlying mission of educating people about the ocean and its critters and is good at featuring marine oddities.

And there is a bloop. I’m just not sure about the fish.

But, boy, if you thought Bill Cody was a relentless, shameless self-promoter, let me introduce you to PETA, which seems to exist entirely to gain publicity.

It’s reminiscent of Alan Abel, who, among his many hoaxes, formed the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals and would picket the White House demanding that Jackie and Caroline’s horses wear clothing.

The question about PETA is whether they are a serious animal rights organization using goofy publicity stunts to gain attention, or whether there is some cynical hoaxer at the top of the ladder, enjoying the publicity and pocketing dues and donations?

And what the hell difference it would make?

Anyway, I learned as a very young lad about fish and how to treat them respectfully:

Community Comments

#1 nancyg
@ 9:18 am

Um. I’m pretty sure that last charge out of the trenches was the ultimate end of Blackadder.

#2 Mike Peterson
@ 10:26 am

Well, he never actually procreated in any of his manifestations. I’m holding out hope that there’s a Blackadder out there somewhere who simply knows that his story isn’t terribly interesting and has the good sense not to tell it to us.

However, perhaps our grandchildren will chortle over “Blackadder Brexit!” I think Miranda Richardson would make a smashing Theresa May.

#3 Denny Lien
@ 8:01 pm

re Blackadder and “Well, he never actually procreated in any of his manifestations” — I believe the song in the second series states (of the Elizabethan era Blackadder) something like “His great grandfather was a king / Although for only thirty seconds” so the Medieval version apparently managed to procreate. (Since he had a child bride, ick, but maybe he spawned with some unknown other, presumably desperate and/or drunk, lady friend.)

For that matter, if none of the Blackadders managed to procreate, what kept the line going? They look (and act) too much alike to for a series of adoptions to be the answer.

#4 Biswapriya Purkayastha
@ 8:28 pm

PETA is a criminal organisation that murders over 90% of the animals brought to its shelters, and, among other things, wants all pets to be destroyed. It only exists to make money. Most of its activists are as much does as the Moonies cultists.

#5 Brett Mount
@ 3:21 am

I think the Wild West has been continued for a while in the form of the Red Dead Redemption and Call of Jurarez video games.

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