- The Washington Times - Monday, April 18, 2005

Classical roots

“‘Green Acres’ is simply pure comedy. Whatever was funny went in, and whatever was not, did not — from Fred Ziffel’s sarcasm to Lisa’s domestic cluelessness to Oliver’s stubbornness to Mr. Haney’s greed to Hank Kimball’s indecisiveness to Eb’s attention deficit to Arnold Ziffel’s unexpected genius and on and gloriously on.

“The show’s effect was based on the comedy of humors, of characters whose differing personality types and social backgrounds result in endless comic conflicts. Much of this played out in a highly satirical form that spoke not only to late-1960s culture, but also to today’s culture. The finest thing about the show is that the satire is organic, arising directly from the characters and situations, not forced upon a structure that cannot handle it.

“The roots of [television comedy writer-producer Pau] Henning’s humor in ‘Green Acres’ and his other programs are visible in the plays of Ben Jonson, Moliere and the other great comic authors who created intense satire through the use of extremely simple, stereotyped characterizations — even going back to Aristophanes.”

— S.T. Karnick, writing on “Henning’s World Was the Place to Be” on Thursday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

‘Avalanche of crud’

“Not all parents who are concerned about the avalanche of crud crushing their children every day are obsessed with SpongeBob’s sexual orientation. Nor are they seeking to shred the First Amendment. Most are just looking for a little cooperation from the captains of culture to make the hard job of raising children in a fully-wired universe a little easier. …

“It is more than possible to enjoy ‘Pulp Fiction’ and recognize that it is inappropriate for younger viewers who can’t grasp the context. In much the same way, it is more than possible to set some voluntary boundaries for protecting children without sacrificing the ability of adults to consume adult-oriented material.”

— Dan Gerstein, writing on “Party of ‘Joyous Vulgarity’” on Saturday in Opinion Journal at www.opinionjournal.com

Nostalgia Inc.

“When the 1985 Chicago Bears held a very public reunion last month, some fans surely wondered why the champs were making so much noise about getting back together. After all, Jim McMahon and Walter Payton owned restaurants in town after retiring. Dan Hampton, Tom Thayer and Steve McMichael show up on local television and radio every other week. And a day without Mike Ditka in Chicago is still like a day without a breeze off the lake — it happens, but rarely.

“This year, the Bears have professionalized their self-promotion by incorporating as 1985 World Champions XX Inc. … On the group’s official Web site, you can buy a T-shirt, bid on vintage merchandise and invite real live ex-Bears to your next corporate outing or backyard barbecue — ‘a minimum of three Bears per event, please.’ …

“Pro sports’ memory-mongers-in-waiting would do well to take notes on the 1985 Bears’ anniversary. The team’s marketing coordinator told me that the champs are ‘trying to build brand equity that’s going to have resonance for the long term.’”

— Justin Peters, writing on “We Were the Champions,” on Friday in Slate at www.slate.com

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