Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Facts of Truncated Life

The pitch: MySpaceTV's Minisode Network Video Channel, which is being touted today on the site's login page, allows you to view your favorite classic television shows in roughly a quarter of the time it would take to watch the non-edited versions.

The evidence:

My conclusion: This kind of blows, and not just because I picked The Facts of Life as the show I would test out this format with. In short, the episode is boiled down to the "A" plotline and the expense of any "B" plotlines the show might have included. (Did Facts of Life even have subplots?) Most of the jokes are lost too, I'd imagine, which makes no sense for sitcoms. Really, who ever watched Facts of Life for the riveting storylines? In the episode above, we're expected to believe that Natalie has really fallen for this guy, when he spends about 45 seconds on screen. Not that this show was ever so finely written as to make anyone's actions seem believable, but for all I know the evolution of Natalie's crush in this episode, "For the Asking," might have been one of the finer dramatic interpretations of teenaged lust and longing of NBC's 1982 season. The whole thing reminds me of that one Futurama episode in which Professor Farnsworth tampers with the time-space continuum and causes the present to keep skipping ahead, leaving those who just lost the previous fifteen minutes of their existence to wonder how they might have ended up the situation they're currently in. (In a conga line, for no apparent reason.) And that works fine for a science-fiction cartoon, but less so for a sitcom. In short, it's pointless, unless your idea of a good way to spend your work break is watching a TV show that's been basically stripped down to a highlight reel or the kind of recap you might expect from a serial. (Cue Mrs. Garrett's voice: "Last time on The Facts of Life...") Perhaps worst of all, the shortened format makes more an abbreviated version of the show's theme song, which is easily one of the catchier TV opening numbers ever and, often, the best part of the show.

Addendum: By the way, didn't The Rerun Show do this already—and, at that, do it much better? With random comedy shenanigans snuck into pared-down old scripts for shows? Didn't they actually do The Facts of Life?

Terrible Throwaway Joke: Given that chubby Natalie's sweetheart ends up liking her after all,
I think it's funny that I at first mis-typed the episode's title as "For the Assking."

And a Note About Mindy Cohn: She's currently the voice of Velma in the new Scooby Doo cartoons. I think she's found her calling in life.

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