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TV podcasts as live events… April 14, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Had a most interesting, and entertaining, Wednesday evening where my friend David managed to get two tickets to the West Wing podcast. I’d listened to this when it first came out but lost track in part because I wasn’t rewatching the episodes simultaneously. Anyhow, it’s a pretty good podcast, with some strong observations, albeit there’s perhaps an unnecessary deference to one A. Sorkin’s talents.

The West Wing is a fascinating cultural product and worth examining in greater detail sometime. So much of its time and place, on occasion sickly sweet with nationalist sentimentality and no small dollop of self-regard. And yet, rewatching a number of episodes at this remove one oddity I don’t recall the first time round is a moroseness about the limits to what is achievable in politics, particularly in US politics. There’s a scepticism too about the realities of political activity that I must have forgotten, so that rather than being a simple liberal dream played out instead there are losses and more losses. Then again perhaps that’s part of the liberal dream – the idea that it is embattled and must compromise. Perhaps forgotten at this remove is how after Sorkin left the more ‘liberal’ bent of the scripts was somewhat lost and a more ‘centrist’ approach triumphed (though keep in mind this is US politics and those terms indicate areas well to the right of what we might consider their analogues this side of the Atlantic). I always preferred those later episodes, but what do I know?

Having listened to a variety of cultural podcasts over the years – Gilmore Guys, various Babylon 5 and Star Trek ones included, I’m always intrigued by how they can take on a life of their own above and beyond the supposed source material. Gilmore Guys is perhaps the most obvious example for better and worse. There’s also the suspicion sometimes that the original material isn’t sufficient to bear the weight of analysis. Hard to think that The Pretender or Knight Rider or would really be worth an episode by episode run through.

But even more interesting is the process of the podcast as live event. I’ve mentioned before following the Gilmore Guys and their live podcasts were replete with rapping, songs and guests. The WW was more sedate, but there’s a genuine oddity because the event itself is a reflection on a distinct cultural artefact. It’s as if one had an event critiquing a gig. I’m tempted to say it’s like Star Trek cons, but it’s not. Not at all. And discussing it afterward we came to the conclusion that this was in a way a new cultural phenomenon. What is important? The individual episode, well yes, up to a point (though interacting with the audience probably deflected some of the analysis), the actors as actors and/or characters – likewise. Or is the event itself the key thing?

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1. dublinstreams - April 14, 2018

Depends how much money it makes whether they are doing it for money for the chane to travel and make a bit of money or the chance to share the show with people, how much musicals talk was there?

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WorldbyStorm - April 14, 2018

Nothing at all about the music tbh. As it happens you fix on a real bugbear of mine in relation to WW and some other shows. I hated the way musical emphasis underlined some of the scenes. It wasn’t necessary and upped the schmaltz and sentimentality.

Just on the event I felt that in some ways there was a dilution due to it being live – that they had to take into account the live audience. Which is fair enough but it made it perhaps a fraction less focused, albeit perhaps more entertaining because pints were being consumed onstage. By the way Snuffy Walden did the music for Roseanne too.

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