#3 of 6 Things Our Kids Just Plain Won't Get
There was a time when an entire episode of a sitcom could be, and frequently was, based on one character leaving the room just seconds before another would enter it. The fact that they could never quite find each other was the driving point of the plot.
So much classic comedy has been sacrificed for the glory of progress and not needing to understand a map.
One of the most popular episodes of Seinfeld, "The Bubble Boy," was based on this. Jerry gets lost trying to follow George into upstate New York, and zany antics ensue. And for the time, it worked just fine because people could relate to it. Everyone had at one time or another tried to follow a friend without knowing where they were going, only to have that friend drive too fast or blow through the end of a yellow light, leaving them in the dust.
And we've all had the odd game or two of Trivial Pursuit with a terminally ill boy in a bubble.
Today, it just doesn't work. We could simply fire up the GPS and tell it where we're headed. Or pull out the cellphone, call the person and say, "Hey, dipsh!t. Slow the f down or I will d!*k-whip you in the goddamn eye. I'm eight blocks behind you because you don't know how to fing drive, Mom."
"Are you spending all your glasses money on fing Ambien?"
In the same episode, George plays Trivial Pursuit with the boy in the bubble, and on what would be the winning question for the boy, George discovers a misprint that saves his a$$. The answer was supposed to be "Moors," but they misspelled it as "Moops" on the card. That triggers a heated argument that just simply wouldn't last more than 10 seconds today. My kids don't know a world where a quick Google search on your phone couldn't clear everything right up.
For the same reason, lovable bs-artist characters like Cliff Clavin don't really make sense anymore. Our older readers remember Cliff as the beer-swilling mailman on the sitcom Cheers who sat at the corner of the bar and rattled off bs claims out from under a stunning mustache. Our younger readers would recognize him as "that dude we can shut down before the second word makes it past his stupid child-molester mustache." Everyone knows at least one guy like this in real life: "I have a cousin who played a stormtrooper in Star Wars."
Really? Let's pull up IMDb real quick. What's his name, again? That's what I thought. Shut the fk up.
The Office recently had an episode where Michael got lost, and the gang from work had to find him. But before that plot got into full swing, there had to be extra setup scenes explaining that he had left his cell in Jim's car, and showing him attempting to call the office, unsuccessfully. In the old days of TV, as soon as the characters got physically separated, the audience immediately recognized the situation as one that has f-ed us all. No extra explanation required.
"No need for wacky hijinks today, Tom! We've got Google Latitude."
And let's not forget about the old plot setup where one person picks up his phone and finds someone else already talking on another phone in another room. He catches part of a conversation, which leads to a miscommunication or gives him vital information that moves the story along. That's not just something that happened on TV. If you grew up in a household with two phones, at least once in your life, you went to make a phone call only to plunge into a private conversation mid-stream. But my kids will never experience that. Hell, they'll probably be baffled by ...