Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Pop Poker

Shamus Goes PopI’ve mentioned from time to time various columns and other poker-related writings I’ve done elsewhere. Some time ago I had the chance to write a “Poker & Pop Culture” column at PokerNews, although that ended a while back. Got to explore in depth all sorts of fun topics like Mark Twain, W.C. Fields, the “Dogs Playing Poker” paintings, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and so on.

I thought briefly of trying to revive the idea at Betfair Poker, writing a single post over there about the Thanatopsis Pleasure and Inside Straight Club, a group of poker players who were part of that Algonquin Round Table during the 1920s.

However, I only ended up doing the one “Poker & Pop Culture” post over at Betfair. Here on Hard-Boiled Poker I published a post in the fall of 2010 listing and linking to all of the different pop culture pieces I had written up to then.

Then last summer I had the opportunity to revive the idea once again with that “Community Cards” column I did for the Epic Poker blog. Had about a six-month run there before the EPL ran into its difficulties a little over a month ago. Was able to explore a lot of other examples of poker popping up in unusual places, like television shows, movies, sports, and other “mainstream” areas of the culture.

M*A*S*H (1972-1983)I’m glad to share that like a free agent roaming from team to team, the idea has found a new home over at PokerListings where I’ve begun a “Pop Poker” column. Yesterday PL posted a piece exploring poker on the television show M*A*S*H which was a lot of fun to pull together. Those who remember the often-clever comedy set against the backdrop of the Korean War might get a kick out of it.

Incidentally, when going back and looking at those old episodes in which Hawkeye, Radar, Fr. Mulcahy, and others all played poker, some of those I watched online did not feature the laugh track, something that was of course highly typical for sitcoms of the time when the show aired (1972-1983).

I read around a little and discovered that apparently the show’s creators didn’t want to have a laugh track, but CBS made them include it in all but the operating room scenes. However, when the show got aired outside the U.S. it sometimes appeared without the laugh track, and I think on some of the DVDs there’s an option to turn it on or off.

That explained why I stumbled onto some episodes without the laugh track. Was kind of weird to watch the show that way, I thought, with all of the one-liners and rapidly-fired zingers just hanging in the air, since oftentimes the responses by other characters were of the deadpan variety. Kind of gave the show a darker feel, overall, even though all of the episodes I focused on (the ones containing poker) were fairly light-hearted in tone.

Anyhow, if you’re curious, check out the column. And if you have any ideas for other TV shows, movies, or other topics you would like to see examined in such a column, let me know.

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Blogger Jennifer said...

Congrats on finding a new home for your column! Love the insight you provided into MASH, one of my absolute favorite shows of all time. (I loved that most episodes didn't have the laugh track.) Well done, Shamus!

4/04/2012 1:34 PM  

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