Monday, May 20, 2013

27 Years

There used to a show called "Make Me Laugh" in which comedians would have 60 seconds to make the contestant laugh and the contestant would get one dollar for every second he/she could go without laughing.

There'd be three rounds with three different comedians. If a contestant could go all 180 seconds without laughing, then the prize was doubled to the maximum $360.

Had those rules applied to the 71-minute running time of the series finale of "The Office," then TigerBlog would have won $8,520, assuming that it was doubled for going the distance.

There wasn't anything in the show that made TB laugh. The only line that came close was near the end, when Michael, who made an uninspired return for the finale, said something like "I feel like my kids have grown up and married each other. It's every parent's dream come true."

There was a time when TB wouldn't have won more than $60 on "The Office," because there was a time when "The Office" was as funny as any show has ever been. Some of the early episodes are beyond clever and creative, with that rarest of a combination of near-perfect writing, a near-perfect ensemble cast and the absolute perfect leading man, Michael Scott, played by Steve Carell, who has to be in the Top 10 - and maybe closer to Top 3 - of all-time sitcom characters.

And all of this wrapped around a great setting - a dull, barely existing paper company in Scranton, Pa. - with a format that was fresh and unique at the time.

Never mind the question of why a documentary would be made about these people and this company. It was just a part of the equation that made the show that much more creative.

Eventually, sometime after Jim and Pam got together, "The Office" started to fade. Then, when Carell left, it became the TV equivalent of a  Hall-of-Fame pitcher who bounces around team-to-team long after his prime.

It wasn't funny anymore. In fact, it was worse than that. It was just a soap opera, with characters who had become caricatures.

TB gave up on it long ago and actually was a bit surprised to see it was still on. In fact, he doesn't know too many people who stayed with it to the end.

In fact, the show got so bad and so unfunny that it made watching the reruns that much more difficult, because it was a reminder of just how great the show had once been.

"Seinfeld" is, in TB's opinion, one of the most overrated shows of all time. Interestingly, it too

At its best, "Seinfeld" was classic stuff, also as funny and clever as anything that had ever been on before, with its blend of a real-life Jerry and his fictionalized friends. What made it hilarious was the idea that people could watch it and say "that happens to me all the time." What made it stop being funny was its move into trying - way too hard - to drive pop culture and to have ridiculous fringe characters, and the result was a show in which the audience went from laughing at the absurdity of what real life situations can bring to an audience that laughed out of habit and tuned in each week hoping it would go back to what it once was.

Except it never did. It was too forced at the end. And its series finale was simply awful.

"The Office" series finale? It was cute. It did a good job of wrapping it all up. It just wasn't funny. 

The lesson? It's hard to do something really well for that long a period of time.

In anything.

TV shows. Music.

Even intercollegiate athletics.

The 2013-14 Ivy League year is over, having ended this weekend with the rowing championships. Princeton won the women's open rowing title - by a lot.

In fact, it was a nearly seven-second win over second-place Yale. In rowing, that's a blowout.

For the women's open rowing team, it means an automatic bid to the NCAA championships.

For Princeton Athletics, it meant a 12th Ivy League championship for the year. It also put the finishing touch on the Ivy League's unofficial all-sports points championship.

Princeton won the championship, compiling 215 points for the year. Points, by the way, are awarded based on finish in Ivy standings (regular season or championship event, depending on how the league crowns a champ for that particular sport), with first worth eight points, second worth seven, etc.

If there is a tie, then the points are split, so that a tie for third means 5.5 points for both teams.

Princeton won last year's championship by a single point over Harvard, 191.5-190.5 .This year, the margin was comfortable, with Harvard second with 187.5 and then Cornell with 146.5.

Harvard was second in league championships won, with nine.

In addition to its 12 league champions, Princeton also had eight other teams finish in second place. Of its 33 teams that compete for Ivy titles, Princeton had 31 finish in the top half of the league.

And so for Princeton, that makes 27 straight years of having won the all-sports points championship.

And, as of today, everybody in the league goes back to zero and starts over again for next year.

Past performance, as they say, doesn't guarantee future performance.


Anonymous said...

Cool! Could you list the 12 titles in one place?

And I know this is extra work if you are willing to do it, but I am curious about where all of the eight schools finished in terms of Ivy titles and in the unofficial points standings. I would understand if this is asking too much. Thanks in advance for considering it.

TigerBlog said...

Princeton's 2012-13 Ivy League champions: women's soccer, field hockey, men's cross country, women's basketball, women's fencing, men's swimming and diving, women's swimming and diving, men's squash, women's squash, men's golf, women's open rowing, men's outdoor track and field.