Tag Archives: Anniversary

Four More Years: Another Cultural Anniversary

For the first few years of a blog’s life, every milestone is…well, a milestone.

When you get through your first year, it’s a reflection of your own resolve: how many blogs appear and then disappear, start out as an exciting exercise and end up a relic of an earlier commitment to productivity?

Your second year, meanwhile, is a statement against the haters. Haters is probably an overly strong term, but there are always those who doubt that the commitment to a lightly read blog is worth the time and effort, so getting through a second year is a signal that you have no intention of giving into such skepticism.

By the time you reach your third year, however, it’s a reflection of your readers. Stubbornness can keep you writing for a couple of years, but by the time you reach three it means that there are people who are reading, people who make writing that much more satisfying.

I think, though, that the fourth year may be the point at which milestones stop feeling like milestones. It isn’t that I am unsatisfied with the fact that this blog has come a very long way since January 17th, 2007, and I have no doubt that the third-year university student sitting in a Politics of Mass Media lecture would laugh in my face were I to go back in time and inform him that his blog would be far closer to the mass media than he could ever imagine in four years’ time; it’s just that the first-year PhD student has become sort of comfortable with what the blog has become, its existence having become so much a part of my daily life that time just doesn’t seem as important.

This is Post #1994 in the blog’s existence, a number which would be higher if I had not purged some of the early posts which had no relationship to television. In an ideal world, there would be another 1994 by 2015, but I sincerely doubt this will be the case: the days of such intense productivity may be behind me for the foreseeable future, left to the summer months and to brief spurts where I simply can’t keep myself away from tackling the bounty of television at hand.

For now, though, a bit of a trip through Cultural Learnings history: I’ve gone back into the archives and pulled out a post from on (or around) January 17th from each of the past four years. They’re probably not the ideal way to chart the blog’s evolution (although keeping the typos intact demonstrates my early lack of commitment to even the most basic copy editing), but I think it’s a reflection of what a four-year anniversary means in the blogosphere: at a certain point, milestones stop being about the blogger and start being about the blog itself.

So, Happy Birthday, Cultural Learnings – you’ve been good to me.

A Lesson in Post-Super Bowl Programming

Date: January 18th, 2007

This might be the only time this season that Criminal Minds has a chance to engage younger viewers and hope to pull them away from Idol. They need to change their fundamental style, not just throw in every cliche in the book. They need to mix things up a little, create an event out of this episode. Really, both Grey’s Anatomy and Alias had it right. Episodes that opened with some T&A, and then went into plotlines that went above and beyond what the show had done previously. Alias completely changed in “Phase One.” I guess I’ve given up hope that Criminal Minds can do the same.

I’ve written about this subject a few times, and will be returning to it again with Glee this year, but this first post has some silly rhetoric that would be quickly abandoned in subsequent posts. However, it was the first bit of “blogging” I did after my initial introductory post, so it’s a nice archive of the early stabs at writing about TV.

Continue reading


Filed under Cultural Learnings

Season Premiere: Chuck – “Chuck vs. the Anniversary”

“Chuck vs. the Anniversary”

September 20th, 2010

I didn’t realize it until I sat down to write this review, but I think this might be the last weekly Chuck review for quite some time here at Cultural Learnings.

This is not so much a reflection of the relative quality of “Chuck vs. the Anniversary” as it is a reflection of what kind of show Chuck has become over the past season. When I posted my review of NBC’s Chase earlier today, someone commented that Chuck similarly lacks character and consequence: they were joking, of course, but the latter point (consequence) stuck with me heading into tonight’s premiere.

This is still a show I enjoy, and a show I plan on continuing to watch, but I think Chuck has reached the stage where it no longer interests me critically. The season seems like it is onto a solid start, but it is a start which takes absolutely no risks, taking some potentially interesting new ideas and quickly absorbing them into the show’s existing structures.

And as pleasant as that is, I think it might be the point at which weekly reviews no longer feel like a good use of my time.

Continue reading


Filed under Chuck

Cultural Anniversary: Thanks for 3 Great Years

On January 18th, 2007, I started this blog.

On this, its three-year anniversary, I want to thank all of you for reading, and give special thanks to those who have linked to one of my 1467 posts, retweeted one of my far too many tweets, invited me to be on your podcast, commented on one of my reviews, conversed with me via email or Twitter, or inspired me to continue writing about television with your own work.

I sometimes wonder why you’re still reading, but the fact that you are means a lot to me – while I have trouble imagining a world where I don’t write about television, I have more trouble imagining a world where I’m not part of this wonderful online community of critics, scholars, bloggers and fans alike, so I greatly appreciate your continued patronage.

Today is, otherwise, just like any other day here at the blog: I’ll have reviews of Chuck, How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory later tonight, and probably some thoughts on Big Love and Life Unexpected over the next few days. However, I’ll also be contributing over at MediaElites.com with my good friend Todd VanDerWerff and others in the months ahead — you can find my first piece, an investigation into the challenges and opportunities facing reality shows like Project Runway and Survivor in the short gap between seasons entitled “It Seems Like Just Yesterday: Clean Slates and Narrative Continuity in Reality Television Scheduling,” up at the site as you read this — so there’s some new adventures on the horizon.

Thanks for coming along with the ride,


1 Comment

Filed under Cultural Learnings

Modern Family – “Great Expectations”

“Great Expectations”

November 18th, 2009

In terms of the great comedy battle of 2009, which continues to rage amongst shows both new and old, Modern Family is at a distinct disadvantage: with Parks and Recreation delivering some legitimately great comedy and Community doing a really compelling and confident meta-storyline, the simplicity of this show is a disadvantage in terms of being flashy. There comes a point where the hype surrounding the show creates greater expectations than the storylines themselves can live up to in terms of their premise, requiring viewers to appreciate the strong execution where originality isn’t overtly present.

“Great Expectations” is a solid episode of the show, featuring a number of fun loving gags and a couple of big guest stars, but nothing stands out as particularly stunning as compared to some of the other comedies. In this instance, I think there was enough nuance to each individual story to continue to prove how strong the writers understand these characters, but it nonetheless follows similar patterns to what we’ve seen in the past. I think it’s one of their stronger episodes due to a nice role reversal, but it’s not reaching as high as some of the other comedies are right now.

Continue reading


Filed under Modern Family

The Middle – “The Floating Anniversary”


“The Floating Anniversary”

October 14th, 2009

I could take a gander at Cougar Town tonight, considering that I remain really perplexed at people who can’t seem to get beyond the show’s premise and Cox’s overacting to see a show that has a really strong emotional core, but since I didn’t get to cover The Middle’s pilot I figure I should discuss the show’s third episode. The show is not as inventive as Modern Family, or as diverse as Cougar Town (which I find more cohesive), but it is a solid family comedy that’s a bit reductive of Malcolm in the Middle but could have had a much worse fate.

What makes the show work is that it features good performances and has a surefire sitcom premise that is inarguably charming. I think the kids are decently engaging, Patricia Heaton and Neil Flynn make believable parents, and perhaps more importantly the show has something to say about families dealing with an economic crisis. Where the show loses points in how it tends to stick to the same jokes, and how it relies too heavily on Patricia Heaton’s performance without letting the other parts of the show get their due.

“The Floating Anniversary” is perhaps the weakest episode yet, if only because it feels the least like an ensemble piece: while the pilot logically placed the emphasis on the biggest star who is at the heart of the show, I think the show needs to branch out beyond its stereotypes in order to really grab my attention.

Continue reading


Filed under The Middle

Cultural Learnings Celebrates its First Anniversary

One year ago today, I started Cultural Learnings.

This sounds really startling when I say it aloud, but over the past month or so I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ve been doing this for an entire year. I really wish that this was falling during a less busy time of the year, because as it is I feel like I am doing this post a disservice. I should have spent a week on a retrospective post like the one I did for my three-month anniversary, before my blog became focused closer on television.

But unfortunately, a combination of work and illness has meant that all we’re getting today is a solemn and humble thank you, and a promise that at some point in time I will reward you with some sort of prize for your continued readership. But, for now, let’s settle with this.

Thank you for reading, commenting, emailing, subscribing, questioning, enjoying, criticizing, and inspiring for an entire year. If you had told me one year ago that my blog would win 2nd place in a contest held by the Nielsen Company, I would have guffawed. I loved TV, no question, but blogging about it had never been something I had really considered.

What I enjoy the most about blogging is not that people are reading my opinions, as if I require the validation of a readership. Rather, I have been inspired that people have cared about what I’ve written and have added their own opinions. My experience working with fans of Jericho hasn’t been rewarding in the sense of statistics or prestige, but rather in establishing relationships with people as fascinated by television as I am. Being able to feed and observe your passion has been an experience I did not expect to have, and something I enjoy immensely.

So, with one year behind us, it’s time to look forward to the next year (And there WILL be another year and more). I want to continue to offer content you enjoy, content I enjoy, and content which engages important issues. The Writers’ Strike is only one part of the television story – I am excited for the return of Lost and Battlestar Galactica, and of course the long anticipated return of Jericho, I could finally start blogging about Project Runway (It’ll be late, stupid Canadian broadcasting rights), and I’ll be back on the reality bandwagon with the February premiere of Survivor: Fans vs. Favourites.

Thank you to anyone who contributed to my 200,000+ Page Views, and I hope that you will continue to 200,000 more.

Keep on watchin’,



Filed under Cultural Learnings