Episode 220: Higglety Pigglety

The Overthinkers tackle the new television shows of the Fall 2012 season.

Peter Fenzel, David Shechner, and Matthew Wrather overthink franchises born of adjectives and nouns, the coming of the new year, and the coming of the new TV season.


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Further Reading

45 Comments on “Episode 220: Higglety Pigglety”

  1. cat The Full Harvey #

    Is “Itinerant Pedantry” a title that’s supposed to actually get people in theaters or just alienate and confound the audience?

    • fenzel #

      I tell ya, it just won’t be the boffo box office draw that is “Adjunct Similar: Beatification.”

      • cat The Full Harvey #

        Well, I would go see Adjunct Similar…

  2. Chris #

    Oh man, while I enjoyed this episode it was not your finest hour in terms of things I care about. First, Shechner talked jive about Joel Hodgson. Then, Wrather botched Carl Weathers’ most glorious line, “Baby, you’ve got a stew going.” and mispronounced Tobias’ last name (it’s more like Few-nkay). Also, Jim Rash is NOT on Ben and Kate. He is Nat Faxon’s writing partner, and Faxon is the Ben in Ben and Kate, but Rash is not involved at all as far as I know.

    As for the new fall shows, The Mindy Project is probably the only one I will be watching. I thought about Vegas, and Elementary, but I probably just don’t have the time. I’ll make time for Mindy Kaling, however.

    Also, I do prefer Mike to Joel, but I will not stand for Joel disparagement.

  3. Amanda #

    Well actually, it’s “more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff”

    • JosephFM #

      “This is my timey-wimey detector. Goes ‘ding’ when there’s stuff.”

      Best two lines Stephen Moffat ever wrote or will write.

  4. Todd Murry #

    Darn it. The absence of a complete Uatu answer from a couple of weeks ago, and your lack of in-podcast appropriate correction forces me to delurk. Coords are 36.073167,-115.295533 (not at home, at work – are coordinates appropriate for first post as well as e-mail?). Anyway,

    As you guys pointed out, Uatu watches stuff. He’s here to observe the big events of the universe in his jurisdiction. As poster Chris noted (on the original podcast shownotes), he’s alien, stands on the moon (he lives there in the “blue area”), and is FORBIDDEN to interfere. He’s not green, and the Ron Howardesque narration aspect is not that central to his character – that shtick was invented for the FF 48-50 Silver Surfer/Galactus intros, wasn’t there in his earlier appearances, and shows up sporadically (though with increasing frequency) afterwards, including the classic Uncanny X-Men 137 (the death of Pheonix) in which the Watcher totally bookends the story like that old Private Ryan guy in that one movie (the issue ends with the watcher saying, no kidding “Jean Grey could have lived to become a god. But it was more important to her that she die…a human.” Gotta love Claremont).

    But the big omission was… remember that FORBIDDEN to interfere thing? He never, ever listens to that. He interferes all the time, especially where Reed Richards is involved. The platonic guardian group that he is a member of has a prime directive of DO NOT GET INVOLVED (but not, oddly, no snitchin’), but he just. Does. Not. Listen. He is an earth exceptionalist of the first order, and Marvel comics is on his side. The Watchers clearly don’t know how awesome the human race is, and if he has to break a few rules to help them out, he’s just the hairless cowboy to do it. His non involvement record includes hiding the earth from space predators and being Reed Richard’s lawyer in the space trial of the millennium (the Shi’ar put him on trial for saving Galactus’ life – he, like, eats planets but they don’t understand his role in the universe’s ecosystem, y’know. So short sighted).

    He looks like a baby in a toga and, if he didn’t come out 5 years before 2001, I’d say they ripped of the cosmic fetus image from the movie (the toga’s more about the platonic thing, I think). I believe Lee/Kirby probably owe a deal of the cosmic curators thing to Asimov’s The End of Eternity, by way of DC’s Oans, with the Oans also being kind of bubble headed and robed.

    Interestingly, the current cosmic custodian thing tends to owe a great deal to Uatu’s image. Fringe’s Observers are a direct rip off (down to the fact that the one assigned to our sexy protagonists is the only one, ever who “ain’t listening to no rules” and the hairless pale guy concept), but wear 50’s MiB type outerwear, and the Adjustment Bureau goons look like the Observers with white hair.

    Incidentally, I think the What If thing is a hobby. The Watcher has such a huge melon because he has to retain all this info about humans, and this is his way of overthinking them Remember the “What If the Watcher were a standup comedian” issue? (to the Black Panther “Wakanda place is this?” response “You got it.” “I don’t even know what I’m talkin’ about?!?”). He’s just messing around.

    So, I’m out of the closet as a listener/reader. I wanted end my silence by sending you an unsolicited paper on the Brony phenomenon, but I haven’t had time to Google images of William Moulton Marston Wonder Woman comics, Willie Wonka, Michael Jackson’s Wonderland Ranch, and Abercrombie and Fitch catalogues for inserts to support my theory that a certain subset of males, fearful of certain types of connection, have created a shared myth of a sexually infantilized Candyland that MLP:FIM vibes on.

    • Pasteur #

      Your challenge: make that comment and that premise into a unified OTI article. “My Little Directive: Friendship is Adjunct”, maybe.

  5. LeighH #

    Apparently, Crystal the monkey will be making $12,000 per episode for Animal Practice. Meanwhile, actors with graduate degrees are trying to sell pilots for shows like Itinerant Pedantry. This is our current television landscape.

    • Tulse #

      They should have used an elephant — I hear they work for peanuts!

  6. Arthur Johnston #

    Nearly 2 days and no attempts at a double-dactyl, Wrather all but threw down the gauntlet at the end of the show

    Higgledy piggledy,
    Benedict Cumberbatch
    played Sherlock Holmes
    for BBC

    Shechner referred to it’s
    said they should license it
    for a large fee


    Higgledy piggledy,
    thespian Matt Wrather
    asks panelists questions
    for their response

    Their answers then lead to
    Which all of them can do,
    with nonchalance

    • Tulse #

      OK, I’ll bite (and it’s all in good fun, fellas):

      Pedanty schmedanty
      Our Overthinking It
      Hosts do amuse us with
      Their lackadaise

      They critique new TV shows
      They might even see one
      One of these days

      • Tulse #

        (Hey, how did that extra syllable on the fifth line get there?)

    • Tulse #

      Here’s another go:

      Thinkity Thunkity
      Matt Wrather, Pete Fenzel
      John Perich, Mark Lee – all
      OTI crew

      Are most entertaining when
      They do pop culture like
      no others do.

      • fenzel OTI Staff #

        Wikketty Picketty
        Fake Harvey Fierstein
        Absent this podcast, but
        Not in our hearts.

        Croaking opprobium
        Building the tension for
        When he restarts.

    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      Jiggity Juggedy
      Dredd of the Judgety
      Sort that makes menace in
      Future remote.

      Back to the basics, Syl-
      Both shoot with purpose, but
      Never emote.

      • arthur johnston #

        Muscely Wuscely
        Arnold Schwarzenegger
        terminates the Connors
        Sarah and John

        back to this timeline.
        hydraulically crushed
        Skynet he’ll spawn

        • fenzel #

          Yippety Yappety
          New York Cop John McClaine —
          Eternal sequels grant
          Lasting regard.

          None would begrude him his
          Supereffectivness —
          Stopping crime’s easy, it’s
          Dying that’s hard.

          • fenzel #

            Obviously I meant “begrudge.”

  7. Lee OTI Staff #

    Can I just say that the commenters are KILLING it across multiple posts on OTI right now?

    The commenters are KILLING it across multiple posts on OTI right now.

  8. fenzel #

    Giggety Goggety
    Hamburger Helper
    A glove with a face and
    A plan for your meal,

    Stroganoff beefed up with
    Transforming ground chuck
    To Milanese Veal.

    • Tulse #

      “Carnodexterity”? Holy crap, that is brilliant. Two thumbs up (or in this instance, “two fingers”)!

  9. cat The Full Harvey #

    I would say that the rubric the article used to judge new pilots is not that useful as it relies a lot on the individual person’s opinion and a lot of the criteria are too fuzzy and the kind of thing you would pick up on if you WEREN’T thinking about these things critically. Well, I didn’t really like any of the characters, so I don’t want to watch the show. That’s not really a useful way of predicting future success.

    I feel like a proper rubric should be more analytical and address whether the show is going to satisfy its target audience. How about questions like…

    Does this show have an actor or actors people are familiar with?
    If the show is Go On (Matthew Perry), Beauty and the Beast (Kristin Kreuk), Michael Urie (Partners), etc. then the answer is yes.

    What target audience is the show successfully appealing to?
    We’re having a kind of rambling argument on the forums tangentially related to this, but there can be a difference between the audience you want and the audience you end up getting. So who will end up being the fans of this show?

    Is the premise sustainable?

    Is there anything offensive or alienating about the premise? Could that appeal to a different audience?

    If anyone is interested…TVGasm has two pretty hilarious (in my opinion) fall preview posts tearing into the new shows.

  10. Pasteur #

    Tethera pethera
    These effing teenagers
    Alienate and confuse
    Force you to think

    Shows may change but they still
    Make sure the discourse flows
    Don’t forget – drink!

    • Amanda #

      Best one yet! Of course, I’m in automatic love with anything TFT-related.
      TFT and I, BF 4EVA!

      (I figured, after my Harvey comment, I might as well go on underthinking it here in the comments…)

  11. Todd Murry #

    Clingedy Clangedy
    Third sequel tragedy
    Desolate future with
    Dour Christian Bale

    The story’s baloney
    Redeemed by only
    Gratu’tous rendering
    Of Ahnulds tail

  12. Todd Murry #

    You guys are really down on network TV. You need someone on the podcast who LIKES network television. It has been a rough few years, sure (the last truly great premiere season was 2006, and the last three have been really rough), but expectations are super low, and there are a few possibilities out there. I saw five of the pilots at Comic Con, and a few since, and it’s not a complete loss. The Following (the one with Kevin Bacon in the William Peterson role from Manhunter, with the guy who played Marc Antony in Rome as the Lector role) was extremely solid, though it doesn’t premiere until spring.

    Aside: saving the darker, more chewy shows for midseason has really killed the networks the past few years.

    666 Park Avenue wasn’t technically that bad for a show out of the late 70’s-early 80’s ABC idea box (Fantasy Island, in a Hotel, except Mr. Roarke is the devil and damns your soul to hell at the end of the episode), but I felt nothing watching it, and there’s just no reason to continue with it. It’s more lame than bad. Arrow was better than I would have expected, but is still midrange CW. Critics have been cruel to Revolution which, while they have a serious charisma (and acting) problem in the all but two of the cast, is at least OK to watch speculative fiction (which is rare on the nets), and has sword fights and arrow/bolt related deaths. I was un-turned off enough by the pilot to watch a bit more, at least.

    The show that is the most interesting (also midseason) in a could-develop-into-something vs. might-be-embarrassing way is Cult, a CW show that is sort of like David Lynch and Robert Anton Wilson deciding to do their take on the Evril LaBaron story, but getting busy and letting the Hellcats showrunner take over. The pilot was amateurish at times, but it d*cks around with reality so much, that I half think the bad acting and spotty production values are intentional. And it has Theodore Bagwell (T. Bag) in it.

    Vegas and Nashville have gotten some good ink. You are right on with Last Resort – a lot of talent probably can’t overcome the hard to swallow and limiting premise. Also, isn’t it weird that NBC premiered 2 shows as its first offerings that are a split of the Community DNA (Go On got the premise and Animal Practice got the vibe) given Community’s perpetual nearly-cancelled status?

    I love fall TV.

  13. cat The Full Harvey #

    I scoped out most of the new fall shows when they did the upfronts. I kind of like to check out a bit of everything (especially if it’s on hulu) and then let shows gradually drop off. Anyway, I have down that I was interested in Nashvile, Mistresses, The Mindy Project, The Goodwin Games, The Following, The New Normal, and The Carrie Diaries. There are reasons that all could be good or horrible but I’m willing to give them a shot. Also, I’m already watching Go On in the hopes that they will eventually let Laura Benanti sing.

  14. Hazbaz #

    Just got round to listening to the Podcast, and so glad my comment from last week was mentioned!

    I agree it’s not a perfect analogy, but glad I could help!

  15. Gab #

    I totally got the joke, Fenzel. :)

  16. Gab #

    Okay, I have to deconstruct the meaning behind Resident: Evil.

    You have the surface-level analysis, which is the mansion in the first game; Raccoon City and the police station in the second; etc. The main setting for each game is the implied location where this “resident” is at. And this “resident” is the zombies. And I use the plural deliberately- the zombies are, in affect, a unit. They have no individuality. While one can’t particularly call them a hive mind, since there’s no collective conscious operating from outside them and controlling them, calling them completely autonomous beings is giving them too much liberty, as well. The lack of actual consciousness in them makes them a little hard to classify; I’d call them unthinking, semi-autonomous entities. But what makes them “evil”? I’d say that’s a misnomer if we go with the notion that “evil” implies a conscious decision to do harm. That lack of consciousness and inability to reason makes them, I’d argue, incapable of “evil.” Now, the fact that they’re doing harm by attacking non-zombies can be considered an “evil,” in which case the “evil” in the title wouldn’t be them, but rather their actions.

    This lends itself to a deeper level of analysis, then. Every episode has human antagonists apart from the zombies. Further, each also has at least one boss that is a semi-cognative being- although whether these have the moral reasoning to discern whether their actions are “evil” or not is up for grabs. But anyhoo, the human antagonists could all be considered “evil,” or at least knowingly committing “evil” deeds. So perhaps that “resident” isn’t the zombies, but the humans behind them.

    But then we go even deeper. Because what if the “evil” is the propensity to do bad things, etc., and it is a “resident” of the consciousness of those human antagonists? Or of their souls?

    Like The Walking Dead, the Resident Evil games and movies alike aren’t about zombies, they’re about the human condition and what people may or may not resort to in the face of an ultimate horror and danger, and the evil we are capable of that can lead us to those situations, as well as the evil inside of us that may manifest as a result of said situations.

    /end rant

    Sounds like a wut, Shechner? Really?

    Are y’all gonna lose respect for me when I say I have a few shows I’d like to test out?; Crossbones (PIRATES!); 1600 Penn (White House humor); The Following (Kevin Bacon); Partners (bromance); and… 666 Park Avenue and Arrow are on my list, too… :(

    As for Arrow‘s potential, I think it’s taking the place of Smallville, as in the sexy-teenage-comic-show, since Smallville was about young Superman. Just a hunch, though.

    In Re: Elementary– 1) Shechner, the BBC series does air on PBS a few months after its original date in the U.K.; or did you mean it should be re-aired? 2)DAMNIT, Wrather, you totally stole my thunder about Bennedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller! I thought I was the resident Cumberbitch- but, then again, you prolly just knew it because of your love of theater. Miller called Benny and asked if it was okay, and Benny said something along the lines of, “Hey, am I totally comfortable with it? No. But you’re a man with a family to feed, so go for it.” 3)Anyhoo, so this reboot here in the U.S., I’m kind of irked by it because you know that since the Watson character is being gender-bent and played by Lucy Liu, it’s going to be nothing but, “Are they gonna bang?” the whole time. Sigh.

    What you didn’t do yet is talk about the shows you’re looking forward to seeing new seasons of in a few weeks. Will that happen some time soon? I thought there were a few things y’all were following before. I know The Walking Dead doesn’t count (AMC, after all). But I thought there were others. Alas.

    • Gab #

      Oh, but speaking of Netflix, the BBC Sherlock has both seasons up now.

    • Amanda #

      And to continue with my underthinking over here…


      *wot wot* (<- imagine that the way Busy Philips does it in Cougar Town)

      • Pasteur #

        Are we implying that the BBC version *isn’t* “Are they gonna bang?” the whole time?

        • Gab #

          I think there’s a distinct difference between homoerotic tension between two male characters that care for one another deeply but don’t feel a romantic connection (like that in Sherlock) versus the longing, listful, lustful pining and angst that are bound to take over the plot of Elementary. Yes, you could argue that Watson’s insistence that he’s straight and Sherlock’s that he’s not gay is an example of “protesting too much,” but this is one of those times where I don’t think it’s the underlying message about their relationship. And whereas the fact that they never will end up banging in the BBC one isn’t a roadblock or source of drama for the show, it will be a focal point for Elementary. The relationship in the latter will end up feeling dissatisfying at best, utterly depressing at worst, because if they don’t bang, it’ll be portrayed as such. And if they do, it won’t end well. Because then how could you build a show off a couple that became a couple after lots of back and forth? That’s the death blow for a lot of shows like that. (I’m kind of afraid about the season premiere of Castle, for example, and Moonlighting, one of the shows that was based on, kind of tanked after the two main characters finally got it on.)

          Short version: Bromance isn’t the same as heterosexual tension. And the end of bromances usually feel a lot better and rounded out. I may not like Judd Appatow movies per se, but he’s great at writing that sort of thing.

      • Gab #

        Holluh! Cumberbitches represent!

        • Gab #

          Great, I broke the page again and everything is in italics. How the eff do I keep doing that, oh Webmaster???????

          • Lee OTI Staff #

            Incorrectly closed tag. You had the slash after the i, not before it.

          • Pasteur #

            Well, Gab, it looks like we just have a problem with slash!

          • Gab #

            Lee: DOH! >.< Thanks for fixing it. Sorry. :(

            Pasteur: I see what you did there! Har har!

    • Pasteur #

      It’s interesting, because the very vocal (and seemingly internally consistent) Sherlock fandom appears to ascribe a romantic and sexual relationship to the pair; though that could just be tumblr talking. But you do make a very good point that from the plotting, writing, and filming side, there is a significant difference between the male-male and male-female partnerships.

      What would be interesting would be to look at the differences between Elementary (once it runs some episodes) and Sherlock through two lenses at once: the difference in format (3 90-minute episodes vs. N 43-minute episodes) and the difference in gender. Someone with better overthinkingit prowess might be able to synthesize a thesis from how the differences offset each other.

      • Gab #

        HAH! You know, I also think those same fangirls writing Sherlock-Watson slash fic and drawing nigh pornographic pictures of the two think it’s dumb to gender-bend Watson, too. (Note: I love the show, but I’m not dreaming up scenarios between the characters in my head.) I think their emotional attachment to the relationship between the two men would result in them interpreting Watson-as-woman as an intrusion. They’ve constructed their own false sense of reality, and although it dovetails with the internal reality of the show, the Watson-as-woman would completely violate that in a way the (BBC) show never would.

  17. Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

    The double dactyl page on Wikipedia is actually pretty good: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_dactyl

    Here’s one by Wendy Cope.

    Emily Dickinson
    Liked to use dashes
    Instead of full stops.

    Nowadays, faced with such
    Critics and editors
    Send for the cops.


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