The Big Bang Theory

Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Community

Dungeons & Dragons has defied the odds and turned forty this year. A niche game that might take a decade to complete, its mixture of imagination, dice, paper and pencils seemed no match for the rise of the Digital Age and quick satisfaction. But tabletop gaming (and RPGs) bit their thumbs at the odds and became kinda cool. Celebs like Wil Wheaton, Sam Witwer, and Chris Hardwick have met up for a round of Dragon Age on TableTop, and the popular web series is now cooking up a spin-off RPG show after their super-successful crowdfunding campaign. But the RPG has not only infiltrated the back-room geek realms of the Internet. Though it never made much progress on film, save for the rare appearance in films like ET, D&D has become a television pre-requisite. Forget about musical episodes; if geeks are present in any noticeable way, there will be an episode or scene devoted to a D&D quest where the nerds lure newbies to the dice. It’s a game that’s set up deadly enemies, revealed inner weaknesses and unveiled fans in the least likely of places. Now I must admit – I have never played Dungeons & Dragons and have little desire to (unless it’s the ridiculously addictive board game offshoot, Lords of Waterdeep). My patience has no time for long quests. Nevertheless, some of my favorite television moments revolve around D&D (and television’s facsimiles of it). I love what it inspires in its fans, and the creativity that often stems from it. The RPG […]

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Channel Guide - Large

The one criticism of CBS’ high-rated, geek comedy The Big Bang Theory uttered most often is a pithy “I don’t get why it’s popular”—a very simple declaration of how baffling it is that a lot of people, maybe even loved ones or friends whose opinions are usually valued, actually want to use up precious minutes of their day watching a by-the-book sitcom with a distracting laugh track and an over-the-top lead character who has a grating personality disorder. Naturally, there’s a Family Guy quip that speaks to the WTF of it all: “I keep not laughing at The Big Bang Theory and I figure, it’s gotta be the television.” To clear up the confusion that those who “don’t get it” might have, you’re right, there isn’t anything revolutionary about the series—this isn’t an Arrested Development, a Girls, or a Curb Your Enthusiasm—so anyone expecting to be immediately bowled over by the writing will likely end up disappointed but, what it lacks in edginess and subtlety, it makes up for in charm. In fact, in recent years the show has primarily been charm-driven (as opposed to being comedy-driven), which—now that I think about it—may be a little bit revolutionary. Co-created by Two and a Half Men’s Chuck Lorre, Big Bang is built around the insular friendship of four socially inept scientists. The degree and style of that ineptitude is sharply differentiated, varying in a typical quirky, sitcom-y fashion: Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) is the libidinous one who still lives at home with […]

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Channel Guide - Large

If I were to call The Vampire Diaries stupid, I don’t think that too many people would be outraged or even ask me to explain why I had that opinion. Everyone would probably just assume that I wasn’t in to vampires or diaries or good-looking men with smoldering eyes and leave it at that. The show definitely has its fan base, and it’s a very devoted fan base, but it’s socially acceptable to not like The Vampire Diaries. Now, what if I were to call Mad Men stupid? The kind of inarticulate assessment that it’s perfectly OK to make when talking about The Vampire Diaries probably wouldn’t fly when talking about Matthew Weiner’s acclaimed drama (mainly because the show isn’t stupid and, even if it isn’t your cup of mid-afternoon booze, there are certain things about it that you have to concede—it’s thematically complex, well-written, pretty to look at, etc.). I happen to be a faithful Mad Men viewer but I know that there are people who find it painfully unwatchable and I also know that these people aren’t hillbillies (no offense to hillbillies) or unintelligent. Disliking a popular show is, of course, alienating—even when you’re steadfast in your opinion—but it’s also just incredibly frustrating; there’s a kind of emperor’s new clothes aspect to it where you’re left asking, what is it that I’m missing here?

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Channel Guide: A Column About TV

Ah, the Golden Globes. The redheaded stepchild of award show season – a veritable island of misfit toys in terms of pop cultural offerings. Ridiculous as they oftentimes may be, the picks of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association are now among us, and up for the inevitable scrutiny of the Internet as a whole. Film nominations aside, the small screen selections for this year’s statuettes are as random as ever. With regular contenders ineligible for nomination (Mad Men), and former heavy-hitters now struggling to stay relevant (I’m looking at you, Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy), the pool of nominees is a hodgepodge one – often seeming as shallow as Paris Hilton. So just which shows should take home the statues when the Golden Globes are telecast January 15th? Here’s my breakdown of the nominees – from the way-to-go to the WTF.

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Channel Guide: A Column About TV

Mad Men, Dexter, Game of Thrones—it’s such a great time for instrumental TV theme songs. But what about themes with lyrics, themes that follow the example set by classic shows like The Brady Bunch, Rawhide, The Jeffersons, and even The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? Sadly, this variety of signature tune is a dying breed, seemingly destined to go the way of the laugh track. OK, so no one’s really bemoaning the near extinction of the laugh track but, as TV lovers, we should be concerned about the current lack of title music that we can actually sing along to. Whether we like it or not, the words to the themes from Gilligan’s Island, Cheers, Charles in Charge, Friends, Family Matters, and The Greatest American Hero, are floating around in our heads. Simple rhyming verses like “if the teacher pops a test, I know I’m in a mess, and my dog ate all my homework last night, riding low in my chair, she won’t know that I’m there, if I can hand it in tomorrow it’ll be all right” have become culturally significant. But what will this generation’s TV theme song legacy be? Here’s a list of series, all premiering within the last 10 years, that are keeping this proud vocal tradition alive with their original music (that is, songs composed specifically for the program) and predictions of whether or not these themes will stand the test of time.

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Editor’s Note: This article will be updated in real time as the winners come in during the Primetime Emmys broadcast. Winners will be highlighted in bold and you can check out the winners that were already announced at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. The very first Emmy Award was given to a ventriloquist named Shirley Dinsdale who worked with a puppet called Judy Splinters. Is that significant? Of course it is. That fact coupled with the design of the award itself – a woman holding an atom – represent the true heart of television’s most significant celebration: artistic inspiration, scientific technology, and wooden humanoids that only talk with a hand shoved up their back. Ponder that while you bask in the glory of the victorious. Here are the winners of the 2011 Primetime Emmy Awards.

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With premiere week over I’ve compiled a list of the week’s top premieres from each night. The winner of each night is based upon the quality of the writing, the shows entertainment value and if it’s a new series, the shows sustainability. This year had some extremely heavy hitters and some of the best performances we have seen on the small screen. So without further ado, here are the winners of the FSR Fall 2010 Watch List (please note that this list only applies to shows that started before or during the week of September 19th). Sunday: Boardwalk Empire In what should come as no surprise, Boardwalk Empire was top dog on Sunday. I’m not big into period pieces which is why I really never got into Mad Men, but Scorsese has made me fall in love with the 20′s and Atlantic City. Steve Buscemi is a great lead and a guy I can’t wait to watch every week. If only Scorsese could direct every episode and not just the pilot.

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Welcome back, it’s time for the longest day of the week. That pivotal day before Friday when everything gets simple. Thursday is also a great night for television, and this year is no different. Actually, this year is probably the most jam packed night of the week on the small screen. Everything from cops to vampires to college to dead people to spys to India, this Thursday has it all. So go grab that 16oz beer from the fridge and some fresh AAA batteries for the DVR remote because here comes Part V of the FSR Fall 2010 Watch List!

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Betty White

It seems like kismet that I was just this afternoon re-watching the post-apocalyptic paintball episode of Community over dinner. It’s perhaps one of the single best half-hours of television I’ve witnessed in a long time. It makes sense that mere hours later I’m writing about Betty White, 88-year old star of the internet generation, and her upcoming stint on this wonderful show. Her spotlight continues to shine after Facebook and Saturday Night Live and elevation to culture meme status, and now she’s getting time with one of the funniest shows on TV. Beginning with the season two premiere, she’ll play professor June Bauer, an esteemed, albeit slightly unhinged, anthropology professor.

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giveaway-bigbang

The science of funny is back! At work, physicists Leonard and Sheldon and their geek pals conquer the cosmos. At home, real life- from dating to driving- conquers them. Twenty-three laugh-filled episodes and a supremely talented cast show why Big Bang is such a big hit!

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DVDs I Bought This Week!

Brian Gibson loves to buy DVDs. Come with him on his weekly journey into the depths of credit card debt as he tells you what to buy, rent and avoid.

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