Happy Holidays and Cultural Learnings’ 2008 Television Time Capsule


Myles here (I felt like I should introduce myself, but I’m the blog’s only writer, so that seems unnecessary, but this is an unusually personal post and I thought it deserved a more formal introduction…the formality of which was erased by this spiel. Blerg).

First of all, I want to wish everyone a happy holiday season – the past year has seen a large expansion of readers to the blog, and I hope that all of you are surrounded by family, friends, and a couple of high quality television boxsets or a fully stocked DVR this holiday season. After last night’s review of the season finale of Skins, my television viewing schedule is entirely clear: as a result, although I’m sure you’d love to hear my thoughts on the Jess/Dean debate as I unapologetically revisit the third season of Gilmore Girls, Cultural Learnings is officially on hiatus until after the holiday season.

But, I also want to announce how it is I plan on revisiting the past year in television, my first full year as a “critic” of sorts. The Cultural Learnings 2008 Television Time Capsule is a project where I ask myself a question: if I had to pick episodes of the shows which aired during 2008 in order to inform future generations of the year in television, what episodes would they be?

This has already created numerous conundrums. How do I choose which episode of Mad Men’s second season to include? Do I cop out and include the entire box set of The Wire to avoid picking a single episode (“We’re going to need a bigger capsule.”) Do I dare soil the capsule with an episode from the hideously awful third season of Heroes, even if it could serve as a warning for future TV viewers of what not to watch? Will all other shows wilt in comparison to the charm of Pushing Daisies, or will it and The Middleman form some sort of awesome television alliance that will fulfill Darwin’s theory of evolution and muscle out all the other shows by the time the capsule is pulled from the back of my closet?

I have a lot of soul-searching to do this holiday season, and know that the task will not be taken lightly. I also hope, however, that it will not be taken alone: I would absolutely love to know your own thoughts on which series and episodes should be represented in the time capsule. The thing’s imaginary, so space is not an issue, so I’m willing to even expand outside of the shows I watch in order to represent the voice of the people (that’s you!). And seriously, if you can help me pick an episode of Mad Men to include, I would be eternally grateful.

So leave a comment on this post, or send me an email at cultural.learnings at gmail dot com – depending on whether my Christmas spirit is all used up by the time the New Year rolls around (which is quite unlikely), there might even be a chance for a prize draw from those who contribute a suggestion. So, please, let me know what you’d want future generations to take from TV in 2008 – the good, the bad, or the ugly.

In the meantime, though, enjoy your holidays and I look forward to seeing you (and an abnormally busy/awesome Winter season premiere slate) in the New Year!


Filed under Cultural Learnings

10 responses to “Happy Holidays and Cultural Learnings’ 2008 Television Time Capsule

  1. L.J.

    Hi Myles, I love the blog but I fail at commenting. I would suggest including “The Constant” in your timecapsule. It was by far the best episode of “Lost” in a year full of great episodes and one of the most stunning hours on television all year. Good luck on your project, I can’t wait to read the results!

  2. If you include Mad Men, the only choice is “The Benefactor,” which was the moment where the show went from “this show is great television” to “holy crap, did they just do that?” It was the return of the Don Draper we all hate to love, in full force as he did some, ahem, convincing to Mrs. Barrett.

    Also, I think Chuck deserves a spot in the capsule for “most improved/unexpected show.” I still have no idea when it became the most fun show on TV, but it did.

    For individual eps, I’d include 30 Rock’s “Believe in the Stars” for the monster claw alone, How I Met Your Mother’s “Ten Sessions” for the 2 minute date, and The Wire’s “-30-” as the representative “Return of the King Award” for the show where it’s near impossible to pick singular episodes as stand outs.

    Love the blog, push it in the face of everyone of my tv obsessed friends, here’s to a 2009 of more Cultural Learnings.

  3. adamluo

    First of all, have to second the vote for “The Constant.” That was just an amazing hour of television.

    The rest of my picks:

    The Office – “Goodbye Toby”
    30 Rock – “Succession”
    Chuck – “Chuck versus Tom Sawyer”
    How I Met Your Mother – “The Naked Man”
    Friday Night Lights – “Hello, Goodbye”

    Sorry to not include any thoughts or anything…there are just too many great things about these episodes for me to just pick out a couple things to sum them up.

  4. I’m thirding the vote for “The Constant,” which was the best episode of a particularly strong season of an excellent show. It just worked on all levels, and utilized the now-familiar flashback/forward format in a way that completely blew my fucking mind.

    You can pick any S3 episode of Heroes to serve as an example of how /not/ to write a TV show.

    How I Met Your Mother is a great example of a traditional sitcom, which I am sure will have died out as a genre by the time this time capsule is opened. I suggest “The Best Burger in New York.” It’s easy to understand out of context, it’s totally hilarious, and yet it has that very slight touch of sadness/realism that makes HIMYM great instead of good. Also, yum! Burgers!

    The Middleman and Pushing Daisies are great shows, of course, but I’m not sure how culturally significant they really were in 2008; weren’t they more like trees that fell in a forest and no one heard?

  5. Ah, Angie – you underestimate my willingness to throw out my broad conceit for the project in order to wax nostalgic for the summer’s finest series or pay homage to the soon to be gone gem from Bryan Fuller.

    Thanks for the comments, folks, they shall be duly noted!

  6. In that case, Myles, I submit either “The Cursed Tuba Contingency” or “The Vampiric Puppet Lamentation” for The Middleman. I’m going to go with “Dim Sum Lose Some” for Pushing Daisies.

    Also, I know you’re Canadian, but as an American, I’d want to throw in some of the presidential election coverage– Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, probably.

  7. marenamoo

    The Middleman – The Palindrome Reversal Palindrome (just because more than any show – except Chuck – this show brings joy)

    House – Frozen

    Chuck – Santa or tom sawyer

    Lost – The Constant

    Life – Find your Happy Place or the Business of Miracles.

    Supernatural – In the Beginning

    I don’t watch a lot of the cable shows so I can’t comment on Mad Men, Dexter, The Wire but these are favorites from Broadcast. Enjoy your holiday.

  8. Ana

    The fifth vote for The Constant, and I think that
    “Comfort food” is a particular strong episode os Pushing Daisies just because it made me feel good, and that is what I will remember Daisies by, such a fell good show, and I think that future audiences may find Olive’s hat just as amusement as I did.

  9. Aaron

    You’ve got to include Lost and Pushing Daisies!
    First Pick: The Constant
    Second Pick: There’s No Place Like Home (Parts 2 & 3)

    Pushing Daisies:
    First Pick: The Norwegians
    Second Pick: Dim Sum Lose Some

    Also, I’m going to second “Goodbye, Toby” for The Office. “Weight Loss” is another good one.

  10. Critical Mera

    What about Battlestar Galactica? I think it deserves its own spot too!

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