Just a couple of blog-appropriate things I found on the net recently:
- Jac Mac and Rad Boy Go!, a 1985 student film by Wes Archer (who became one of the original directors on The Simpsons and the supervising director of King of the Hill). Kind of a psychedelic take on violent anti-drunk-driving films (the films where drunk drivers are about as bad and depraved as they can possibly be), with two brain-dead teenagers meeting their doom, the film has been acknowledged by Mike Judge as an influence on Beavis and Butt-head, and its look and style has influenced others in both independent and studio animation; there was even a Tiny Toons episode about drunk driving, called "One Beer," that I recall as having a few similarities (though since that episode is the one that ends with the writers acknowledging how embarrassed they are about having done it, it's really not fair to analyze it).
"Jac Mac" was shown a few times on TV on the cable show Night Flight; the downloaded version above looks like it might have come from an old TV tape, and it's not the best quality, but it does give you an idea of its impact.
- "The Sexist Pig Role Model," by Lynne Farr, is about working for Jay Tarses, showrunner of The Bob Newhart Show. Tarses was unique, sort of the great self-hating sitcom writer of his generation. He and his writing partner, Tom Patchett, started on Bob Newhart when it was kind of a bland, unexceptional piece of "quality TV" (a lot of the MTM sitcoms, like the early Bob Newhart episodes and especially Rhoda, now come off this way), but when they took over as showrunners, they overhauled it, making it more and more crazy and, as Farr points out, developing Bob's wife Emily into a far more interesting character. Patchett and Tarses also created an MTM sitcom starring Tony Randall as a judge, which lasted two years. By this time Tarses was basically tired of the conventional three-camera sitcom ("How often can you get Bob over to the damn door?" he said once); Hugh Wilson recalled that Tarses hated laugh tracks so much that he was "out to get them."
Tarses, whose daughter later became a network programmer, spent the rest of his career creating quirky, risky, critically-acclaimed comedies that flopped. (Patchett split up with Tarses after their most famous critically-acclaimed flop, Buffalo Bill with Dabney Coleman, and wound up co-creating Alf.) Often Tarses would do something that would later find its way into a successful show by somebody else; The Larry Sanders Show has certain similarities to Buffalo Bill, while Ally McBeal owes a debt to Tarses's The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd. And so on. The article characterizes him very well, for better and for worse.