Here, in no particular order, which is a lie because they’re in ascending order of popularity, are posts from 2013 which our readers liked the most. Enjoy a look back at your favorites—and catch up on any you might have missed.
And, as ever, thank you very much for reading Overthinking It. We know you have an infinite-seeming and near-dizzying array of choice when deciding where to go on the Internet, and are touched that so many of you choose to frequent our humble site. All the best for 2014, whatever it holds for you.
#5: The Immortality of Kenneth Parcell
Mark Lee used the occasion of the series finale of 30 Rock a look at the diagetic evidence that Kenneth Parcell is, in fact, immortal.
It would appear that the Immortal Kenneth’s greatest trick was convincing the world he didn’t exist.
Update: The success of the live production of The Sound of Music on NBC seems to suggest that Kenneth is indeed alive, and is actually the president of the network.
#4: The Banality of Evil Origin Stories
Ben Adams reflects on the recent trend for psychologizing movie villains, a trend he takes as ultimately destructive for film because it robs these otherwise compelling characters of their power and mystery.
For the most part, I don’t want to know why my villains are the way they are, I just want them to be awesome. The Joker in Dark Knight illustrates this perfectly when he gives multiple conflicting accounts of how he got his scars: he creates an origin story just to mess with his victim’s head. He doesn’t have a motive or a cause, he just wants to watch the world burn. I don’t need to see Darth Vader when he’s a little kid or Hannibal Lecter as a whiny teenager.
#3: Overthinking Adventure Time: Creation, Frustration, and Masturbation
Shana Mlawski uncovers a vein of gold for any overthinker in Adventure Time, an animated television show nominally directed at children.
So I don’t think Adventure Time’s writers are criticizing all art and all artists in “All the Little People.” Instead, they’re criticizing artists who force things, overplan, and live in their heads instead of relaxing, improvising, and collaborating with others. After all, Adventure Time is at its best and its characters are at their most fulfilled when they’re improvising songs and dances together on the spot.
#2: An Unexpected Journey: Book Length vs. Movie Length in Adapted Franchises
Mark Lee takes to his native habitat, the spreadsheet, to calculate the density in written-words-per-filmed-minute of each entry in several popular fantasy franchises. And though the Internet was fascinated by his analysis, he offered a caveat:
We can say definitively that The Hobbit is stretching its content (or at least its words) among movies to a degree that none of these other franchises have done so (or are planning on doing), and I would argue that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey suffers as a result of this stretching. But we can’t say definitively that The Hobbit would be better served as just a single movie, since we’re not able to see that movie.
#1: When Games Pretend to Be Games They Aren’t
Candy Crush lost its ability to frustrate me. I don’t mean that that one bastard level wasn’t frustrating me anymore: I mean that the game lost its ability to frustrate me AT. ALL. The next time I got stuck on an “impossible” level for a couple of weeks, I was like the freaking zen master of casual gaming, placidly failing over and over, and then trying again the next day, without feeling any frustration, or any desire to stop playing, or any desire to spend money, or even really any desire to beat the level.
Those are the top five. Did we miss your favorite? Sound off for the “Reader’s Choice” award in the comments!