Report: Mankind's Knowledge Of TV Trivia Doubling Every Three Years

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Vol 37 Issue 05

Movie Deemed Acceptable For Mom And Dad

LOCK HAVEN, PA–Looking for a video to watch with his parents during a weekend visit, 28-year-old Steve Berg rented Small Time Crooks Sunday. "This seems good–no sex or violence," said Berg, studying the back of the box. "I could get Analyze This, but there's an outside chance it has some bad language." While home last Thanksgiving, Berg squirmed through Double Jeopardy with his mother, unaware that it contained brief nudity.

Star Wars Gamer Magazine Boldly Claims To Be The Leading Magazine For Star Wars Gamers

NICASIO, CA–The debut issue of Star Wars Gamer, which hit newsstands Monday, audaciously boasts that the magazine is "the world's leading publication for Star Wars gaming fans." "Whether you're looking to take your character on an adventure on Yavin IV, soup up your B-wing fighter, or paint an army of Stormtrooper miniatures, Star Wars Gamer is the only Star Wars gaming source you'll ever need," the issue brashly proclaims. Said Chad Burnley, an Athens, GA, Star Wars gamer: "They are certainly going out on a limb to make this claim. If a second Star Wars gaming magazine were ever to be published, they'd have to work really hard to maintain their number-one status."

Jerry Lewis Undergoes Emergency Gefloigel Surgery

LOS ANGELES–Less than an hour after doctors discovered that the gland had become all screwy with the infections, legendary comedian Jerry Lewis underwent emergency surgery to remove his gefloigel Monday. "We had to go in through Mr. Lewis' schlaphlecky system, bypassing the oy-hayvel," said Dr. Jacob Weisz, Nice Mister Chief of Surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "But in the end, we were able to get him all being better and healthy, you know." Doctors have prescribed Lewis several weeks of bedrest, with the sleeping and the flowers and the nice music and hrrrrrn.

The Cruise-Kidman Divorce

After 10 years of marriage, Hollywood power couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman announced their divorce on Feb. 5. What were the reasons for the split on each side?

Fashion Victim

A few days ago, if you'd asked me what "nepotism" meant, I would have guessed it was some sort of eye disorder. But boy, oh, boy, Jeanketeers, since then I've learned what the word really means! (The hard way!)

My Collection Of Cassingles Is Second To None

In the realm of the true musical aesthete, there are some who rise above the madding crowd. At the risk of seeming immodest, I must confess that I am a member of this elite upper strata. I have put my love of music before all else in my life, and I feel supremely confident in asserting that my collection of cassingles is second to none.
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Report: Mankind's Knowledge Of TV Trivia Doubling Every Three Years

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–According to a report released Monday by Rutgers University's Center For Media Studies, mankind's collective knowledge of TV trivia is increasing at an astounding rate, doubling every three years.

Culture Watch

"Our species' familiarity with the details of specific I Love Lucy episodes is 16 times what it was during the show's ratings peak in 1955," said Dr. Timothy Klennert, director of the Center For Media Studies. "For example, 80 percent of Americans are able to name the bogus health tonic that got Lucy drunk during the episode 'Lucy Does A TV Commercial,' compared to 5 percent the day after the program's original airing."

Klennert attributed the trend to the rise of such rerun-driven cable networks as Nick At Nite and TV Land, as well as the increased availability of classic TV episodes on home video. Also cited was the proliferation of Internet sites offering TV-trivia quizzes and books crammed with statistics and factoids about the history of the medium.

"In today's media-rich environment, a person pretty much has to live in a cave not to be exposed to TV trivia," Klennert said. "There are infants who haven't even watched television who can name all six Brady kids. It's practically genetically encoded."

Klennert praised the dedication of U.S. television viewers, who have "tenaciously studied and absorbed TV trivia in the face of so many other forms of information competing for their attention."

"In 1987, only 16 percent of Americans could sing the entire Family Ties theme song, including the 'Sha-la-la-la' ending, compared to the 67 percent able to sing the Friends theme today. If we continue at our current pace, it is not inconceivable that by 2010, there will be a TV theme song that achieves 100 percent saturation."

Some of the once-obscure TV shows that a majority of today's Americans can easily identify.

Some complain that the TV-trivia explosion has come at a cost, contributing to a general decline in interest in such subjects as math, science, and history. For others, however, the trade-off has proven enormously profitable.

"I have no idea what a proton is," said Who Wants To Be A Millionaire contestant John Carpenter, who won $1 million for correctly identifying the U.S. president who appeared on Laugh-In, becoming the subject of a TV-trivia factoid in his own right. "Fortunately, the million-dollar question had nothing to do with such basic scientific knowledge."

According to Mark Bennett, author of TV Sets: Fantasy Blueprints Of Classic TV Homes, not only are more Americans trivia-savvy than ever before, but the quality of the trivia itself is increasing.

"It's no longer all that impressive to know that two different actors played Darrin on Bewitched," Bennett said. "To impress these days, you'd have to know that there were two Mrs. Kravitzes. Or two Louise Tates. Or that Jerry Seinfeld was on the first season of Benson."

Pondering the future of TV trivia, Bennett said: "One day, I envision a world in which every American knows that Happy Days was a spin-off from a 1972 Love, American Style episode. A world in which the phrase 'No whammies!' is instantly associated by all with the '80s game show Press Your Luck. A world in which the importance of TV trivia is as universally undisputed as the greatness of the first three seasons of St. Elsewhere."

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