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#601976 - 04/01/13 10:58 AM The dramatic importance of being nice
MBunge Offline
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Registered: 07/19/01
Posts: 3386
Loc: Waterloo, Iowa, United States
As I was watching the season finale of THE WALKING DEAD, it occurred to me that the show isn't wildly popular just because it's fairly well done or the genre violence or the extreme dramatic situations. It's that the characters are nice people whom you like and want to spend time with. They're not smartasses or deeply conflicted souls struggling with their inner demons or anything like that. And even for the characters who aren't that nice, like Shane or Daryl, a lot of their story on the show is about them either learning to be nice or struggling against being bad.

Also this weekend, I went back and got the last few issues of THE BIONIC MAN after deciding to drop it. I did that because I actually found I missed reading it, something I can't say about many comics I've given up on, and in wondering why I missed it realized it's because I like Steve Austin. And not just for nostalgic reasons from watching the TV show when I was a kid. I like this character because he's a nice guy and I want to spend time with him and his adventures.

And then I thought about other TV shows, like MAD MEN or BREAKING BAD, and other comics and how the characters in them aren't nice people. As well done as they may be, I ultimately find myself asking "Why should I give a crap?" There's an old cliche in fiction that nice is boring and only evil is interesting and I suppose that's true in a saccharine and sanitized culture where LEAVE IT TO BEAVER is as dark as it gets. But if I had to guess what the main reason was for why so many "quality" shows in the supposed New Golden Age of TV get such low ratings and why so many "quality" comics in this age of supposed writing and drawing brilliance sell so poorly, it would be that they're stories about jackasses created by people who think only jackasses are compelling.

Mike

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#601977 - 04/01/13 11:23 AM Re: The dramatic importance of being nice [Re: MBunge]
Ceci n'est pas une chaussette Offline
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Registered: 12/19/05
Posts: 2840
Well, that certainly explains why Mad Men and Breaking Bad aren't wildly popular. Well thought out, Mike.
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#601982 - 04/02/13 09:45 AM Re: The dramatic importance of being nice [Re: Ceci n'est pas une chaussette]
Lawson Offline
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Registered: 11/11/02
Posts: 11978
Loc: Lexington, Ky.
It's also why "Family Guy" got cancelled after only a few episodes in 1999 and creator Seth MacFarlane was never heard from again.

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#601983 - 04/02/13 10:18 AM Re: The dramatic importance of being nice [Re: Lawson]
MBunge Offline
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Registered: 07/19/01
Posts: 3386
Loc: Waterloo, Iowa, United States
Originally Posted By: Lawson
It's also why "Family Guy" got cancelled after only a few episodes in 1999 and creator Seth MacFarlane was never heard from again.


Last Sunday's episode of FAMILY GUY was the 2nd lowest rated show during that hour on all 4 broadcast networks, beating only its follow-on AMERICAN DAD. It was seen by 3.1 million people or less than 1% of the total U.S. population and since its revival on Sundays for Fox, FAMILY GUY'S season ranking in the ratings has been #68, #71, #84, #69, #53, #56 and #70.

Yeah, that totally disproves my point.

Mike

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#601984 - 04/02/13 10:42 AM Re: The dramatic importance of being nice [Re: MBunge]
Lawson Offline
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Registered: 11/11/02
Posts: 11978
Loc: Lexington, Ky.
Originally Posted By: MBunge
Last Sunday's episode of FAMILY GUY was the 2nd lowest rated show during that hour on all 4 broadcast networks, beating only its follow-on AMERICAN DAD.


*Shrug*

I dunno what else was on last Sunday. Lots of guys I know caught "The Walking Dead" season finale. Mrs. Lawson and I watched the season premieres of "Call the Midwife" and "Mr. Selfridge" on PBS. There also was NCAA men's basketball.

I'm gonna go ahead and say "Family Guy" is a success, given that it's aired more than 200 episodes over 14 years, and at any given hour, it seems to be in reruns on at least one of the channels in my cable package. And the creator is a young millionaire who makes movies and just hosted the Oscars.

Even held against the lofty Mike Bunge standards of success, surely you gotta show Seth MacFarlane a little love.

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#601985 - 04/02/13 11:48 AM Re: The dramatic importance of being nice [Re: Lawson]
Ceci n'est pas une chaussette Offline
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Registered: 12/19/05
Posts: 2840
Family Guy has actually always had low TV ratings for first airings. It's targeted at a younger audience, which doesn't watch shows when they air. They watch them on the internet, on DVD, in OnDemand packages, and so on. That's why it got canceled when it first premiered... the executives thought like Mike does, looked solely at first air ratings, and canceled it... and then it got brought back because DVD sales were insanely high. I don't have any figures handy on how well those sales have held up through the present day, but ten seconds on google shows this figure from a few years ago:

http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2009/06...rst-week/21636/

Family Guy - Volume 7 debuts on the top of the TV Show DVD sales chart with nearly 274,000 units sold in its first week, translating into sales of over $7.5 million.

I'm not aware of any other show that managed to get canceled, then get put back on the air - on the same network - because it was so blindingly obvious that the network fucked up. I am, however, reminded of Family Guy's cold open from their first uncancelled episode:

http://youtu.be/0oMTmtN7lHI
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"When one says 'Africa,' it refers to Africa in the Euro-colonized sense, not the damn bush country or whatever."
- Ed Gauthier, DCP

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#601986 - 04/02/13 12:16 PM Re: The dramatic importance of being nice [Re: Ceci n'est pas une chaussette]
Ceci n'est pas une chaussette Offline
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Registered: 12/19/05
Posts: 2840
However, if this kind of indirect money stream is too puzzling for Mike, I'm happy to put Family Guy on the shelf, and use the thread for something more positive. I'd like to ask you all to please give generously to Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Michael Richards. You probably haven't heard of them... they had a short-lived sitcom that tried (somewhat foolishly) to chronicle the misadventures of terrible people.

Needless to say, it was an abysmal failure. All four are now dying of tuberculosis, brought on by malnutrition. They can only desperately beg for change in the streets, hoping that someone will forgive them for trying to foist "quality" by jackasses on a public that only wants to watch nice people.

Obviously we can't save everyone. There'll always be a Carroll O'Connor or James Gandolfini who has to keep themselves warm on the musty cots of the poor house, praying for death to release them from their life of poverty. But if we all try, maybe we can save these four.
_________________________
"When one says 'Africa,' it refers to Africa in the Euro-colonized sense, not the damn bush country or whatever."
- Ed Gauthier, DCP

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#601987 - 04/02/13 12:22 PM Re: The dramatic importance of being nice [Re: Ceci n'est pas une chaussette]
Lawson Offline
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Registered: 11/11/02
Posts: 11978
Loc: Lexington, Ky.
Of course, Michael Richards went on to demonstrate that you really can go too far.

grin

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#601988 - 04/02/13 12:46 PM Re: The dramatic importance of being nice [Re: Lawson]
Ceci n'est pas une chaussette Offline
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Registered: 12/19/05
Posts: 2840
Just once I wanna see a racist celebrity meltdown that's not a total cliche. It's all "you're a n*gger!" or "The Jews start all the wars!"

How about somebody goes on a wild tear against Norwegians, huh? Those lutefisk-eating, never-smiling death-metal jockeys have had it too good for too long.
_________________________
"When one says 'Africa,' it refers to Africa in the Euro-colonized sense, not the damn bush country or whatever."
- Ed Gauthier, DCP

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#601989 - 04/02/13 03:31 PM Re: The dramatic importance of being nice [Re: Ceci n'est pas une chaussette]
Allen Montgomery Offline
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Registered: 05/08/00
Posts: 7091
I caught part of one episode from the marathon AMC ran to fill air time. The acting and writing are way worse now than Season One (and they weren't good then).
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If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
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#601998 - 04/06/13 02:25 AM Re: The dramatic importance of being nice [Re: Allen Montgomery]
Charles Reece Offline
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Registered: 08/18/99
Posts: 10013
Loc: us of fuckin' a
I pretty much hate most of the main characters on The Walking Dead. Rick's an asshole and his wife was an obnoxious, whiny bitch. Son Carl is a psychopath. Best friend Shane was a psychopath, too, whom Rick killed. One of the gang is a devout racist. I wouldn't want to spend any more time with any of them than I would with Tony Soprano.

The majority of people probably want to watch shows about people whom they think they'd like in real life (Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, Men Behaving Badly ... well, maybe not that last one). But there's quite a few of us who only demand that the characters be interesting in some way and who find most of the popular series based on supposedly likable characters to be about people that we wouldn't actually like at all in real life (Sex and the City, Oprah, Friends, et al.). And there's enough of us to make successes of shows like the Sopranos.

Mike, in other words, doesn't know what he's talking about. Fox News is popular. Is it the likable news network?
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#602008 - 04/08/13 10:58 AM Re: The dramatic importance of being nice [Re: Charles Reece]
MBunge Offline
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Registered: 07/19/01
Posts: 3386
Loc: Waterloo, Iowa, United States
Originally Posted By: Charles Reece
I pretty much hate most of the main characters on The Walking Dead. Rick's an asshole and his wife was an obnoxious, whiny bitch. Son Carl is a psychopath. Best friend Shane was a psychopath, too, whom Rick killed. One of the gang is a devout racist. I wouldn't want to spend any more time with any of them than I would with Tony Soprano.

The majority of people probably want to watch shows about people whom they think they'd like in real life (Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, Men Behaving Badly ... well, maybe not that last one). But there's quite a few of us who only demand that the characters be interesting in some way and who find most of the popular series based on supposedly likable characters to be about people that we wouldn't actually like at all in real life (Sex and the City, Oprah, Friends, et al.). And there's enough of us to make successes of shows like the Sopranos.

Mike, in other words, doesn't know what he's talking about. Fox News is popular. Is it the likable news network?


1. Charles, if you could crawl out of your own ass for more than 5 minutes, you might be shocked to find that Fox News is very likable indeed to the folks who regularly watch it. You're smart enough to know that "likable" and "universally liked" are not the same thing. Oh...wait. What am I saying? That sort of deliberate obtuseness is one of the things that has helped make this such a popular and vital online community.

2. Most shows like The Sopranos are not anywhere nearly as watched as The Sopranos. Mad Men, for example, will be lucky to get 1/3rd the audience of Walking Dead. And the truth is that a great many of the folks who watched The Sopranos DID like Tony and many of the other characters, to the point where I remember David Chase publicly expressed some frustration that viewers were missing the point about them being evil people. Of course, Chase himself contributed to that perception. Why do you think Tony didn't beat his wife and kids?

3. I'm tempted to write a long post lamenting what this place used to be and what it has become, but why bother? The people who've left won't read it and the increasingly trollish handful who will are apparently quite happy with what they've helped make it into.

Mike

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#602009 - 04/08/13 11:07 AM Re: The dramatic importance of being nice [Re: MBunge]
Ceci n'est pas une chaussette Offline
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Registered: 12/19/05
Posts: 2840
Originally Posted By: MBunge
You're smart enough to know that "likable" and "universally liked" are not the same thing.


I love the point in the conversation where Mike contradicts himself, doesn't realize it, and just keeps arguing because fuck you that's why.

And calls everyone else trolls.
_________________________
"When one says 'Africa,' it refers to Africa in the Euro-colonized sense, not the damn bush country or whatever."
- Ed Gauthier, DCP

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#602010 - 04/08/13 05:51 PM Re: The dramatic importance of being nice [Re: MBunge]
Allen Montgomery Offline
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Registered: 05/08/00
Posts: 7091
Originally Posted By: MBunge
I'm tempted to write a long post lamenting what this place used to be and what it has become, but why bother?

You'd be better served writing to Steve Conley and asking him to approve new accounts on a more consistent basis. The largest problem this site has is that while there are new people signing up all the time, approvals are conducted only sporadically and applications expire after 24 hours.
_________________________
"The trouble with being a ghost writer or artist is that you must remain anonymous without credit.
If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
Bob Kane

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#602013 - 04/09/13 05:15 AM Re: The dramatic importance of being nice [Re: Allen Montgomery]
shjonescrk Offline
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Registered: 10/31/03
Posts: 1351
Loc: Airdrie, Scotland
Its nice to be nice as my father-in-law says.

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#602014 - 04/10/13 12:14 AM Re: The dramatic importance of being nice [Re: Ceci n'est pas une chaussette]
Charles Reece Offline
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Registered: 08/18/99
Posts: 10013
Loc: us of fuckin' a
Originally Posted By: Ceci n'est pas une chaussette
Originally Posted By: MBunge
You're smart enough to know that "likable" and "universally liked" are not the same thing.


I love the point in the conversation where Mike contradicts himself, doesn't realize it, and just keeps arguing because fuck you that's why.

And calls everyone else trolls.


Yeah. When he has to argue that Fox is successful because it's likable, there's not much left of his original theory. To summarize the current version: shows contain characters that are likable to some group of people and the larger that group, the more financially successful that show will likely be. Someone give him a network to run. These HBO executives don't have a clue.

Also, don't most fans of the Wire, Deadwood, the Sopranos and on and on tend to like the characters, even when they're villains? What is likable to Mike? Wanting to hangout at a BBQ listening to the new Journey album?

Also, how many sitcoms fail year after year despite having likable characters? And what about well-remembered dramas like My So Called Life or Freaks and Geeks, how far did their niceness get them?

Mad Men doesn't have any zombies or action in it, so a huge portion of the potential American audience is not going to be interested in it. It's still a successful show. It's not as dumbed down as The Walking Dead, so that'll reduce its potential viewership, as well.

It amazes me that when there's more variety on TV than at any time during its miserable LCD history, someone actively wants to return to the old views that kept its content so limited. What next from Mike, we shouldn't have continuing storylines because they decrease viewership? Remember the good old days of Charlie's Angels and the Bionic Man? Oh yeah.
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The Gospel, wherein much Truth is written.

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#602015 - 04/10/13 10:51 AM Re: The dramatic importance of being nice [Re: Charles Reece]
Ceci n'est pas une chaussette Offline
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Registered: 12/19/05
Posts: 2840
Originally Posted By: Charles Reece
Also, don't most fans of the Wire, Deadwood, the Sopranos and on and on tend to like the characters, even when they're villains? What is likable to Mike? Wanting to hangout at a BBQ listening to the new Journey album?


I can't think of a lot of shows on which the nicest character is also the most likable. Maybe Saul on Breaking Bad, or Agent Cooper on Twin Peaks.*

In general though, does anybody really like Ned Flanders more than Homer Simpson?

---
*And frankly, even that's a toss-up with Albert, the biggest asshole on the show.
_________________________
"When one says 'Africa,' it refers to Africa in the Euro-colonized sense, not the damn bush country or whatever."
- Ed Gauthier, DCP

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#602016 - 04/10/13 12:09 PM Re: The dramatic importance of being nice [Re: Allen Montgomery]
Lawson Offline
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Registered: 11/11/02
Posts: 11978
Loc: Lexington, Ky.
Originally Posted By: Allen Montgomery
Originally Posted By: MBunge
I'm tempted to write a long post lamenting what this place used to be and what it has become, but why bother?

You'd be better served writing to Steve Conley and asking him to approve new accounts on a more consistent basis. The largest problem this site has is that while there are new people signing up all the time, approvals are conducted only sporadically and applications expire after 24 hours.


I didn't realize there was such a problem getting new accounts approved, though I'm really not surprised. I don't think Comicon gets much of Steve and Rick's attention anymore.

Although I don't have the time to lurk here like I used to, I miss some of our old regulars, like Joe Lee and Alex Ness, both of whom got angry and left during the Joe Kubert R.I.P. thread argument. There's no doubt that Comicon is winding down. I'll be sorry on the day the plug finally is pulled.

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#602017 - 04/10/13 12:16 PM Re: The dramatic importance of being nice [Re: Lawson]
Mr. Socko Offline
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Registered: 11/22/04
Posts: 500
I'm planning to begin following you all on Twitter when that happens.

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#602019 - 04/10/13 06:56 PM Re: The dramatic importance of being nice [Re: Lawson]
Allen Montgomery Offline
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Registered: 05/08/00
Posts: 7091
Originally Posted By: Lawson
I didn't realize there was such a problem getting new accounts approved

Fuka said something in the Gutters about there being no new accounts, so I tried a few times to register new ones and was unsuccessful every time. There have been twelve new accounts approved since the beginning of January and only forty-one last year (including at least a few that were obviously intended for spamming).


Originally Posted By: Lawson
I miss some of our old regulars, like Joe Lee and Alex Ness, both of whom got angry and left during the Joe Kubert R.I.P. thread argument.

BS. They're both still here. Jolly Joe is on right now, in fact. Tony Isabella has logged in some time since February.
_________________________
"The trouble with being a ghost writer or artist is that you must remain anonymous without credit.
If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
Bob Kane

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#602021 - 04/11/13 10:54 AM Re: The dramatic importance of being nice [Re: Allen Montgomery]
Lawson Offline
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Registered: 11/11/02
Posts: 11978
Loc: Lexington, Ky.
Originally Posted By: Allen Montgomery
BS. They're both still here. Jolly Joe is on right now, in fact. Tony Isabella has logged in some time since February.


I didn't know that. I'm not here as often as I used to be myself, but I haven't seen Joe or Alex post in a few months -- not since we had that unfortunate disagreement on the Kubert thread. If you fellows are still visiting on occasion, hello, I hope you're doing well.

As for new registrations, I could be wrong, but I get the impression Comicon is all but on autopilot at this point. The one time I met Rick in the flesh, in 2006, he had high hopes for Comicon and what it could be, both as a bustling social forum and as a growing revenue source. That was back when it employed one or two people full-time, including a reporter on the news page.

These dreams have not been realized. Part of that is due to the difficulty in making money on such ventures. Part of it is due to comics creators heading off to establish their own specialized Web sites rather than congregating at third-party sites like this one. And part of it, I assume, is that Rick and Steve found other things to occupy their time.

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#602030 - 04/11/13 09:42 PM Re: The dramatic importance of being nice [Re: Mr. Socko]
Real Hunter, Alll the time. Offline
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Registered: 08/14/05
Posts: 104
Originally Posted By: Mr. Socko
I'm planning to begin following you all on Twitter when that happens.


I'm on twitter.

Annnd I talk with Joe Lee and Ness a few days a week and am working with them as well.
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