In Everybody Loves Raymond, Ray and Debra Barone (Ray Romano and Patricia Heaton) are a thirty-something married couple with all the trimmings—three kids, a steady income, a nice house, and surely (trust me on this) a fancy car. So what could possibly be their problem? The in-laws. But, of course. Ray’s mum Marie and dad Frank (Doris Roberts and Peter Boyle), live next door and are constantly coming over and creating havoc, interrupting Ray and Deb’s otherwise idyllic life. Or so we are led to believe. When examined more closely, Ray and Deb have issues. Big issues. Issues far too weighty to have much, if anything, to do with the in-laws’ annoying visits.

A typical day in the life of the Barones is guaranteed to include the following situation: Ray will do or say something silly; Deb will tell him off, making him look like a goof; then we will find out that Deb’s not so perfect and Ray will suddenly have the upper hand before she forgives him, thus allowing him to forgive her right back. Parents visit, the end. The key here is ‘human conflict’ and that’s what sold the show. Week after week, script after script, this is what we can expect. In a recent episode, Ray asked Debra if he could invest in a go-kart track and she said no. It turned out that he had already invested without consulting her. He eventually told her, she flipped (you can tell a sitcom wife has flipped when she takes her pillow and sleeps downstairs), his parents visited and found out what happened. Then Marie reminded Deb she had once had financial dealings with her behind Ray’s back, suddenly Ray had the upper hand, Deb forgave Ray, Ray forgave Deb, and it was happy families again.

Now, I realize it’s impossible to hope for sitcoms to be much more complicated than this. Unless, of course, you come up with a Malcolm in the Middle, in which every family member has his or her own well-defined place within the domestic structure, each being a developed and interesting character, with equal amounts of time on screen, doing things you don’t know if you should laugh at, because you yourself have done them and they were just as weird when you did them. Unfortunately, Ray and Deb can’t match the weekly wisdom of Malcolm in the Middle between their arguing, and it feels as though something is missing. It’s perhaps time to see something other than the usual references to a woman’s place being in the home, and a man’s being on the football field (or in front of the tv set), which tend to solicit smirks rather than laughs.

Every time I watch an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, a couple of questions jump into my mind. First and foremost, what’s up with Ray’s complete disinterest in his children? (I know I’m not the only one who has noticed this, and even that it is part of his characterization, but it can be annoying.) While Deb and Ray are the obvious centerpiece, the kids—Gregory, Schmegory, and the blonde girl—are mere decoration, there to remind us we are watching a family. Ray all but ignores his children when they are in the room, occasionally glaring at them and only really paying them any mind when they can either prove a point for him, or be beneficial in some other way. For example, when the twins were in the school play, Ray didn’t want them playing faeries as they preferred, and instead had them reassigned to play two massive boulders, in order to prove their “masculinity” and therefore make Daddy look better. Sometimes, I don’t think he even likes his kids. This became quite apparent when Deb resisted Ray’s desire to invest in that go-kart track. She asserted they had financial commitments elsewhere, like the kids’ college funds. He responded with a question: “Kids? When are we gonna see a dime from that investment?”

Everybody Loves Raymond might improve, Jesse-style, if the producers get rid of the irritating Marie (whom Deb needs to hit over the head with a frying pan; I mean, a woman can only take so much ribbing about her lasagna), and replace her with, perhaps, a family dog. Then, move Robert and Frank into Ray’s house (Peter Boyle can do no wrong, even if his lines are chauvinist and fart-joke-like), causing Deb to go insane and leave to find her former football team captain boyfriend. She can take the kids, too, leaving us with the three guys. The show is geared towards and about the men, after all. Unfortunately, Peter Boyle could not live to perform another episode on Everybody Loves Raymond and the show had to be cancelled. Everyone missed the legendary comedic actor as he passes on, and as the show came to an end, they gave a season finale a family touch, reminding us the importance of family. Everbody Loves Raymond was one of the most successful comedy television series to ever became a hit television series. The Barone family will definitely be missed. Before I end this post, here’s some of the most memorable quotes on the show itself.

“I’m a cop and live with my parents. I’m on a constant diet of human suffering”- Robert Barone

“Is this about me?” – Robert Barone

“Holy Crap!” – Frank Barone

“‘Luck’ is the residue of good planning.” – Frank Barone

“You know what, I’m tired! Could you just call yourself an idiot?” – Debra Barone

“You can’t create fate cause then its not fate, its voodoo.” – Raymond Barone


Media Topic Review: Transmedia

Posted: September 18, 2011 in Journal Entry

It is interesting to see how “transmedia” is used to market and support a franchise, for example the ever-popular action figures known as “Transformers” and even Marvel Comics’ “X-Men”. The franchises took themselves to the movies, animated TV series and especially traversed into the gaming world. It seems like harnessing the power to utilize different media resources to fully provide an attractive entertainment element is an effective practice, as the same basic rules apply into telling a story for entertainment and molding it into something more.

An era where telling a story is not only through one medium, but through multiple mediums of media made storytelling much more entertaining and appealing to audiences. It is interesting to see where will transmedia take us in the near future, as all forms of media might converge and intertwine into becoming something more than just one form of entertainment. Simply fascinating. Transmedia, a world definitely worth exploring.

Today, we’re going to talk about the battle between favoring Matt Groening’s “The Simpsons” or Seth McFarlane’s many shows such as “Family Guy”. Which animated series creator do we favor most, you ask? It is a question where it has been boggling my mind for years and there were many reasons why it is a tough decision to make a few years ago. Don’t worry, I’ll get to the final ultimatum of my decision but first, let’s talk about “The Simpsons”. A few years ago, “The Simpsons” was first aired around the late 80’s and its first season unfortunately didn’t appeal to the general public viewing of that time. It was an animated series about a typical dysfunctional family, which consists of the alcoholic hot-tempered child-abusive father, the loving blue-haired housewife, the rebellious and mischievous son, the well-educated intelligent daughter and the cute yet silent baby daughter. Above all, they were all yellow. The wacky bunch were first set out on adventures of their own, teaching audiences some life lessons such as family bond and other typical life experiences, such as learning that skateboarding over the America’s Grand Canyon is not a good idea. The yellow animated dysfunctional family later became famous a few years later, making them the most watched family animated series in the world. Also, the cast of “The Simpsons” were remarkable at their voice work, blending their legendary experiences from television and radio broadcasting works into the show. The writers at the time were also considered to be creative and musical, which won them numerous Grammy Awards nominations and awards. “The Simpsons” were widely watched as a witty and hysterical animated series, nothing could stop them.

One day, from the very late 90’s, Seth McFarlane decided to sign a contract with Fox to create “Family Guy”, based off Seth McFarlane’s college thesis, “The Life of Larry”. Similarly at the time, Matt Groening’s “Futurama” was aired, which showed a dramatic countermeasure towards McFarlane’s newly produced animated show. The animated series “Family Guy” demonstrated itself as a respected competing animated series towards “The Simpsons”, with unique dialogue and hilariously creative script writing of the series, McFarlane’s animated series literally broke the comedy barriers and instead created something new. In comparison, there’s the dysfunctional family setting as well but with a unique addition to talking animals. The characters “Brian” and “Stewie” grew to became the hit comedy duo of the “Family Guy” series, which made the series more likeable than “The Simpsons”, due to their unique comedy approach. Also, the voice cast of “Family Guy” were interestingly chosen, as there were a number of celebrities involved in the show, such as Patrick Stewart, Seth Green, Adam West and James Woods. Seth McFarlane himself played many voices in the show, such as “Peter Griffin”, “Stewie”, “Brian” on “Family Guy” and also “Stan Smith” on “American Dad”, demonstrating that he is also a talented voice actor and has a passion for his creations and work.

Many fans of both animated shows discussed and battled over who’s show deserves the most credit and credibility on originality, but it all comes down to the question of how inspiration and ideas work. Both were and still are great animated series, yet both evenly had their weighs of fortunate and unfortunate times during production, battling lawsuits and gaining television network slots. I personally believe that the “Family Guy” series has a bright future, because of the comedic genius script writing and the ability to adapt to change to suit the viewers’ tastes in comedy unlike “The Simpsons” however, they need to adapt in order to survive in the comedy world.
Below are a few short clips of the good times these two animated shows brought us in our lives, enjoy.

I’ve learned a lot from last week’s lecture, when Dr. Adrian Danks covered the introduction of television and how it grew as a dominating media. It is a fact where television for decades, has been a catalyst to most forms of other communication technologies, such as radio and cinema. Also, not only as a catalyst but as a cultural medium towards peers of viewers who share the same interests with each other and with beneficial uses. It is even more interesting on how the first few advertisement examples shown displayed the few reasons why and how television changed lives in various ways.

This refers to factors where television made these facts proven such as from the social point of view, how communications spread differently with technology and how the world changes around television, economically, scientifically and more. It was a lecture were it got me thinking about the future of entertainment, as will one day the word “television” mean a portable entertainment device to enjoy while at the same time socializing with friends and family? Come to think of it, it already happened. I wonder what’s next to come.

Is it a myth or fact about the death of television? It is a question we all need to answer, such as how is that cat playing the keyboard on YouTube? The question seemed interesting yet puzzling at first glance but nonetheless quoting Occam’s Razor, the best answer is usually the shortest and the most simplest. In all seriousness, there are many reasons why television has cheated death many times and thus survived for decades with iconic and wonderful shows. The internet has provided us many resources, especially which includes entertainment. For example, Google is one of the information giants in the world, basically a superpower company who almost bought everything, such as Blogger, YouTube and Zynga. These examples however, each portray different sources of entertainment in the industry, each evenly matched with each other. The gaming, social and online multimedia worlds collide and television seemed to be helplessly cornered in this mighty battle. It is the impression of where television is dubbed “it has been done, time to move on”, but let’s refer back to what we have previously learned, about some theoretical factors and what not.

Hyperstimulation: high levels of information conveyed, allowing the creation of “hype” experienced among viewers.

This key factor right here finally made sense of the true and ultimate purpose of television. For example, YouTube have videos of random and various media everyday. Ignoring the fact that the videos edited and uploaded by the YouTube users are mostly original, most of the YouTube content you see today are briefly pop culture, TV show promos and current events related. Therefore, because not only YouTube provides a source of entertainment, it is still different in its own way which it could not match television standards. Thus, television still dominates the internet such as production companies promoting their latest TV shows online, fan video logs or “vlogs” of their favourite shows posted on YouTube, and much more. Basically, creating a symbiotic relationship between the television and the internet, where not only the internet is available with countless media resources but also still limited compared to television due to the current media, intellectual property law, etc. and making television a hidden and strong component to everyday entertainment.

If you still think television is dying, where do you usually prefer to play your console games on? Where will you get 24/7 channels with the best selected content of shows already lined up for you? How about on a technologically advanced media system where it records content with PVR, plays quality video, easily patched with better sound systems compared to a computer monitor, and has a remote? You decide.

It is interesting how vast and quick television has evolved over the decades, from when television televised witty comedic shows and romantic dramas in the early 50’s towards the current era where it has grown into idolizing pop culture and crazy new reality TV shows. Firstly, when television was growing towards the modern age, media technology showed parallel growth as well. This created new technological  approaches and ideas of film making and production, ranging from being able to expand on creative ideas to breaking the limit of quality entertainment. George Lucas for example, mentioned in this article was one of the few famous film directors to ever envisioned his Star Wars films to be adopt more CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery) as he originally was interested in animation films during his youth. During the late 80’s, “Star Wars Episode 3: A New Hope” was born and everyone was amazed at how the character Jedi Master Yoda was brought to life thus reminding us how great “E.T.” was a great film made with imagination and creative thought. Although despite limited digital rendering technology to portray Yoda at the time, George Lucas used the same “animatronics idea” similarly seen in the “E.T.” film. Also, the idea of animating the “Death Star”, “Star Destroyers” and other Star Wars cruisers effects were all prop models and later added special effects for the movie, sound and movement.

Besides the evolution of film making, television series have evolved over the years as well. It evolved through the different decades of our time, with a display of popular American stereotypes to pop culture of that time. This ranges from reality shows to comedy shows. The best examples of individuals who represent each decade were such shows like David Letterman, Conan O’ Brien, Larry King, Jay Leno, Oprah and Jon Stewart, each with a different background who have lived from their own decade. Basically, we have grown with television over the years and television basically reflects the events and lifestyles we live individually. For example, the 21st Century now portrays many ideas and facts, such as media related to Armageddon or the Apocalypse events, the American “War on Terror”, Science Fiction, Comic Books and many more. This modern era basically summarizes the majority of viewers who are comic book nerds, Sci-Fi fans, supernatural fans and the like.

No doubt in mind that TV still captivates us all with great story telling and with originally inspired ideas. We have learned from entertainment past that TV will never fade in the future, for TV have a bright future.

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Welcome to My Online Journal

Posted: July 23, 2011 in Journal Entry

Welcome as this blog will have a few posts every week. Enjoy.