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ALF, "It Isn't Easy...Bein' Green"

Ladies and gentlemen…start the countdown. As of now, we have only five episodes left in the first season of ALF! Hooray! And yes, yes, I know I will have 74 more episodes to slug through after that, but I’m still looking forward to finishing the season. Why? Because I’m going to take a cue from the late, lamented Full House Reviewed and post a few “breather” installments before moving onto season two. That should hopefully keep you folks amused and allow me a much-deserved rest.

What will the breathers consist of? Well, I’ll definitely do an overall season one review, and I’ve got a couple other things in mind, too. Stay tuned. You will love them. So much it will hurt.

Speaking of hurt, this episode opens with ALF rapping in Lynn’s bedroom.

Yeah. ALF…is rapping.

I don’t care. There are only five episodes left. Rap away, ALF.

Oh, and then he hands the microphone to Lynn, who raps, too. The fake audience goes insane over this, even though there aren’t really any jokes…just words that happen to rhyme. ALF scratches up a record on Lynn’s turntable and I assume she’s encouraging him because it’s the least destructive thing he’s ever done.

Then…oh Christ. Willie comes in, and ALF hands him the microphone to rap, too. No. I can’t do this. I can’t watch Max Wright try to rap. No human being should ever have to witness MAX WRIGHT RAPPING.

Mercifully, Willie admits defeat quickly and the rap sequence is over, and I’m beyond glad. I honestly expected this opening scene to consist of each of the family members coming into the room and rapping in turn, and the fact that this didn’t happen almost has me believing in God. It sure says a lot about this show, though, that I can’t watch a bad scene and just accept it as bad; the show never stops with just “bad.” I keep expecting the levee to break and a flood of further horribleness to rush in. I’m like a dog that flinches when you go to pet it. ALF did this to me.

ALF, "It Isn't Easy...Bein' Green"

Then there’s this batshit insane moment that actually makes me miss the rapping. ALF says, “Let me know when this gets irritating, okay?” and then…

…I can’t even describe it. I’ve been loath to start embedding YouTube videos in this series because I really do feel like it’s my job to describe this shit adequately, but this is beyond description:

That might seem like a YouTube Poop, but it’s not. That’s actually how it is in the episode. ALF jitters and convulses while that…noise comes out of him. Even the laugh track drops out, giving the entire thing a bizarre, disorienting sort of detached feel from the rest of the episode, and from ALF in general. It’s like one of those scenes in Get a Life where the laugh-track stops in order to emphasize the moment at which the comedy has slipped into derangement, or those Tim & Eric skits where the video glitches and the sound repeats maddeningly. Only, y’know…ALF plays it straight. It’s done for the purposes of a joke, but the presentation itself — the most unnerving part of this — is not part of the joke.

Holy hell…season one sure is going out with a bang.

ALF explains that the sound is a “Melmacian mating call,” and that it renders females unconscious. So all sex on Melmac is effectively date rape. Hilarious stuff, eh?

Lynn leaves the room, joking on the way out about feeling faint. Willie’s fine with that, because who doesn’t love a good joke about their teenaged daughter being mounted and raped by a house guest while she’s passed out on the floor?

Willie then leaves the room as well, telling ALF to be good while they’re gone. Where are they going? It’s never stated, and it doesn’t tie into the episode at all. It’s just an excuse to get Willie to shut ALF in Lynn’s room (who the fuck knows why…) so ALF can do the mating call again.

There’s even less of a purpose to it this time; at first he was demonstrating it to Willie. Now he’s alone, so why is he doing it? Is this Melmacian masturbation? I’m actually kind of angry that I even have to ask that question.

ALF, "It Isn't Easy...Bein' Green"

The episode proper begins, tying in no way into anything we just saw. This effectively means that the writing staff was charged with coming up with two minutes of material — literally anything they wanted to do; it didn’t even have to make sense within the context of the episode — and they figured, “Let’s just have ALF rap and scream for a while.” AND THEY WERE FINE WITH THAT.

Kate is sewing three asparagus costumes, which seems bizarre since we find out shortly that there are only two kids who need them…but I’m getting ahead of myself. Willie is at the piano, writing a song about asparagus, and this is kind of a surprising character trait. Yes, I know that he played the keyboard for a bit in the episode where ALF made that music video about wanting to cum on his daughter’s butt, however I thought the joke there was that he was an awful musician without any idea what he was doing. Here, though, he’s competent.

I’m not really complaining; I just find it interesting. It makes enough sense, when you think about it. The Tanners had a piano before ALF moved in, but so far ALF was the only one we saw play it. That implies at least a passive interested in the instrument from one of the Tanners, and now we find out it’s Willie. I kind of wish we’d seen more of this side of him…y’know…since it kinda makes him seem human and all.

What I will complain about is the fact that Kate’s costumes and Willie’s song are for a first-grade play that very night. What is it with this show and last-minute preparations for performances? Granted, a first-grade play isn’t as complex a production as the soap opera we saw in “A Little Bit of Soap,” but in either case the performers need to know their lines. That’s the bare minimum, and it applies to a first-grade play as much as it applies anywhere else.

Although, the more I think about it, the more I realize that seasoned actors in a daily soap would probably be able to fumble their way through a recording even if they’re under-rehearsed. They would have developed methods of masking or acting around the confusion…figured out ways to make furtive glances at cue cards look like thoughtful pauses. So even though a soap opera is a far more complicated and high-stakes production than this vegetable play in the school auditorium, it would probably result in less of a train wreck there than here, where the five and six year olds are going to be shoved out onto a stage in front of their peers with no idea of what the shit they’re supposed to do.

ALF, "It Isn't Easy...Bein' Green"

In fact, this scene seems to take place around six or seven o’clock at night, as evidenced by the fact that ALF is watching Wheel of Fortune. Maybe on the west coast it airs at like five or six instead, I don’t know, but either way that’s proof that this school play is happening in the extremely near future — as in, within an hour or two — and neither of these idiots have anything ready for the kids. Why did they wait until the last minute? And why on Earth is Willie charged with writing songs? I can understand the parents being responsible for the costume, but I can’t imagine that any public school in the world would send kids home with instructions to have their dads score the annual vegetable pageant.

Willie and ALF try to drown each other out with the piano and television respectively, and it’s like the “La Marseillaise” scene from Casablanca except it’s a massive fucking pile of garbage.

ALF, "It Isn't Easy...Bein' Green"

Brian comes in from the kitchen, where he was boning the salmon for ALF. Now that I’ve heard this phrase spoken out loud by several actors I have to say that “boning the salmon” is about as repulsive a euphemism as is possible in the English language.

Anyway, ALF doesn’t want the salmon anymore because that idiot dumbass Brian threw away the head. What a moron. Oh well, at least he was working with knives in the kitchen without supervision.

His failure to properly debone salmon for the dickhead who lives on his couch is compounded by having to try on his asparagus costume. He’s not looking forward to the play, because he has to perform with a kid named Spencer, who absolutely hates him and bullies him relentlessly. That’s pretty much the plot of this one, which is fine, but it makes me wonder if this is the first “Brian episode.” I think it is…I know it was his birthday back in “Help Me, Rhonda,” but that episode was centered far more securely around ALF standing naked on the roof. Other than that I’m not sure the kid’s gotten any notable screen time at all.

Well, anyway, here’s that Brian episode nobody asked for…except maybe Benji Gregory, who they stick in an asparagus suit and give an awful song to sing so he’ll never ask for another one.

There’s somebody at the door. It’s Spencer, of course, and…

ALF, "It Isn't Easy...Bein' Green"

…okay. Well, that’s definitely not what I was expecting. I figured Spencer would be some 1980s sitcom version of a school bully. Some dirt on his blue jeans, a backwards cap…forced scowl…you know the drill. Instead I guess Brian’s getting ripped on by the abandoned spawn of Rick Moranis.

Seriously, Brian…I’m not one for violence, but if this kid is such a punk to you, give him one good whack and I’m positive he’ll back off forever. You know what a green sweater vest over a lemon-colored dress shirt says? I don’t either…but I sure as hell know it doesn’t say tenacity.

Spencer has his new toy with him: a Transformer painted brown that the writers want us to believe is something called “Dr. Potato Famine.” I have no idea who would award a robot with a doctorate, nor why any child in any time period in any reality would be interested in potato famine tie-in toys, but there you go. Spencer talks a lot about how expensive and fragile it is. Do you see where this is going?

Anyway, we learn more about why Spencer is such a giant piece of shit: he took the initiative to prepare a script for the show. This obviously makes Willie bristle, and it’s clear that the show wants us to see him as some imposing little snotbag, but, really, come on. The two dolts in charge of putting the play together haven’t done anything, and they need to go on stage like right now. Spencer probably didn’t want to be totally unprepared, so he took it upon himself to write up some lines. What’s wrong with that? Why would the writing staff of ALF work so hard to demonize somebody who took his job seriously?

…nevermind. I figured it out.

ALF, "It Isn't Easy...Bein' Green"

Willie tells the kids that they need to rehearse the song that he’s still writing, so Spencer sets Dr. Potato Famine down precariously on the edge of the table, reminding everybody that it’s very expensive (brown paint was at a premium in the late 80s) and they need to be careful with it.

You know. Careful. Like, putting it really close to the edge of the table, right next to the asparagus costumes that somebody’s going to have to pick up shortly.

Do you see where this is going?

During the rehearsal Spencer talks some smack about Brian’s asparagus cred, but I’m far more upset by the face Willie’s making in the screengrab above.

Actually…wait. Why does Spencer look more like Willie’s kid than Brian does? God, I would love for this to be some kind of subtle joke about Willie boning the neighbor’s salmon. God knows he doesn’t bone his wife’s.

ALF, "It Isn't Easy...Bein' Green"

We cut to later in the night, and Brian tells the family that he doesn’t want to be in the play. But who cares about that? LOOK! Off to the right! It’s the midget!!

I don’t know that it was necessary to bring him back and suit him up just to shamble across the floor in the background of an irrelevant conversation, but he’s the most talented member of the cast so I’m always glad to see his silent little waddle.

I notice Dr. Potato Famine isn’t on the table anymore…and Spencer is gone, so I guess he just picked up the toy and went home. So what was all that shit about being careful of him and making it clear to us that the toy was set in a precarious place that would too-easily allow it to go crashing to the floor? Did the writers forget what they were setting up? I mean, maybe that wasn’t what they had in mind at all…which is fine…but if that scene wasn’t supposed to climax with Dr. Potato Famine being smashed into a thousand pieces, then what the fuck was the point of it?

Maybe Paul Fusco got jealous that the toy was out-acting him and demanded that its pivotal scene get cut.

ALF, "It Isn't Easy...Bein' Green"

Willie and Kate fail to convince Brian to perform, so ALF comes over and tells him about a little boy on Melmac named Gordon. Brian deduces that ALF is referring to himself, but acts continuously baffled by the fact that Gordon is ALF’s real name. I guess I can’t remember for sure, but there’s no way this is the first time he’s learning this fact, right?

I don’t know. That’s the least of my concerns with this exchange, which is about ALF getting stage fright the night he was supposed to play Sancho Panza in Man of La Mancha.

Whywhywhywhywhywhywhy would they be performing Man of La Mancha on Melmac? How did they even get access to it? The creative staff of ALF is aware that Man of La Mancha was not written (or, rather, adapted) by an anonymous space alien, correct? We can even confirm that this is the same play we know on Earth due to ALF’s explanation of what happens and the songs they had to sing.

So how exactly was Melmac importing and performing — without alteration — theatrical works from planet Earth? This would have been a great opportunity to shine some light on Melmacian culture by having ALF describe some play that was native to his culture, or something. He could describe some famous Melmacian tale that would give us a sense of what his people felt was important and how they went about achieving their goals, while also allowing a completely blank slate for comedy…but instead the ALF writers just plop in Man of La Mancha and say fuck you.

God. Damn.

Anyway, ALF doesn’t have any helpful advice, but he does have the good-luck tooth that the Melmacian who played Don Quixote gave to him, so he passes it on to Brian, who agrees to perform. Brian then gets up to leave and ALF sees the tooth is still on the couch, which qualifies as a riveting act break because the good-luck tooth that was introduced a whopping four seconds ago is now the single most important thing in the ALF universe.

ALF, "It Isn't Easy...Bein' Green"

At the play we see two pieces of garlic finishing their act, and…holy shit! That’s Marcia Wallace!

Speaking of Full House, she would play a similar character on that show a few years later. And, of course, she’d play Mrs. Krabappel on The Simpsons. I know she’s done a lot more than that, but I think that speaks volumes about just how well she embodies a certain type of vaguely damaging educator. She doesn’t get much to do here, but catching a glimpse of Marcia Wallace in this show is like seeing a brief ray of sunshine as you slip finally into the vat of human waste that will be your tomb.

Backstage Brian realizes that he forgot the tooth, and refuses to go on. In order to stall for time, Willie lets Spencer go out and perform the jokes he wrote after all.

ALF, "It Isn't Easy...Bein' Green"

Spencer opens with a joke about a guy who has a duck on his head, and then he waits for laughter that doesn’t come, because everyone’s waiting for the actual performance to start. Kate senses this and turns to Lynn, asking, “What’s wrong?”

Lynn replies, “It wasn’t funny.”

And that was actually a good joke. You know, if they stuck with this ditzy characterization for Lynn rather than injecting it intermittently, turning her into a sort of family-friendly version of Kelly Bundy, I’d be a much happier reviewer, because Andrea Elson can pull off that doe-eyed bewilderment better than she can do pretty much anything else, and I’m pretty sure it’s gotten a laugh out of me every time.

I also really like the scene composition here. The camera is static behind Kate and Lynn, with Spencer centered on stage between them, keeping all three principals in view, even though they’re quite a distance apart. When Spencer is telling his jokes, he’s in focus. When Kate and Lynn talk, focus instead shifts to the foreground so that our attention shifts as well.

It’s a good, effective, efficient way of shooting the scene, and it probably represents the only visual experimentation this show has even attempted since the fish-eye sequence in the pilot. For such a relentlessly dull sitcom, a moment like this — which, to be frank, the show could afford to do much more as they don’t have the logistical hurdles of a studio audience to work around — stands out at downright artistry.

ALF, "It Isn't Easy...Bein' Green"

Nobody laughs at Spencer’s act, so he runs backstage and starts crying. That’s the ALF writing staff for ya…picking on a five-year-old kid for writing shitty jokes without even a whiff of self-awareness.

Anyway, Marcia Wallace comes over and tells them to get their shit together, because there is an auditorium full of people shifting uncomfortably while they hide backstage weeping and giving each other pep-talks. Spencer is reluctant because his act bombed, but now Brian is the confident one, and he convinces him to go out and sing the asparagus song anyway.

That actually leads to one of the funniest moments this show has ever had; just as the boys decide to perform, Kate stands up with the intention of checking on them. As she does, Marcia Wallace comes on stage to announce the act, sees Kate, and says, “Sit down, lady.”

Marcia Wallace, I’ll miss you. You were a tremendously gifted comic actress, and moments like this — some tiny, thankless part on a garbage sitcom — could still be turned into a genuine belly laugh with talent like yours behind it. Rest in peace, Marcia. You were a gem.

This shining moment is short-lived, of course, as The Asparaguys are introduced and they sing the motherfucking song for like the tenth time in this God damned bullshit episode of trash.

ALF, "It Isn't Easy...Bein' Green"

The family returns home and finds ALF dressed like an asparagus. Oh, hey! So that’s why Kate sewed a third asparagus costume…so she could leave it laying around for the alien to wear when he snuck around town trying to deliver the misplaced tooth to her son. Man, I’m always so impressed by the way everything manages to fit together in this show.

I especially like the fact that ALF would wear this disguise as a presumable attempt to avoid drawing attention to himself because REALLY NOW WHO WOULD PAY ANY ATTENTION TO A GIANT WALKING ASPARAGUS FUCK

The episode is over and I hate everything.

MELMAC FACTS: On Melmac women are rendered unconscious by a mating call and sexually assaulted. Gordon was ALF’s mother’s maiden name. Melmac imports its stage plays from Earth somehow. And fuck a ballsack the end of this season can’t come soon enough.

tomax

–By Maxwell Smart (follow his twitter and his blog)

Arrested Development (original run, 3 seasons) is an infinitely better television situation comedy than The Office (American version, 9 seasons). In my opinion, of course; that should go without saying. Otherwise, I would have to say it about a thousand times over the course of this article. Why is a short-lived cult sitcom–made up of equal parts masterclass joke and character writing, oddly boring and yet insane plotting, and heavy themes of incest and the antithesis of what a healthy family should be–so much better than the long-running U.S. remake of a work-place mockumentary? Well, here is a hint: it has little to do with comedy.

Okay, fine, I will admit that it has a lot to do with comedy. Arrested Development, in terms of how funny it is, is streets ahead of The Office at its best–and that is no small feat, considering The Office at its best (in seasons 2 and 3) is funnier than 99% of American television–but that was by design. In a recent interview with The A.V. Club, The Office writer and star B.J. Novak revealed a secret that every fan of the show had known all along: its writers had never focused on writing jokes.

According to Novak, the show’s comedic philosophy was “…if something felt funny it was probably because there was truth in it.” Thus, the writers never focused on trying to achieve a certain number of jokes per minute or anything like that; they let the comedy evolve organically from the situations the characters were in. Novak goes into greater detail about the process:

“I’ll give you an example. There was a time early on when I brought a joke to [Office star] Steve Carell. It was something I was really proud of. He looked at it and said, ‘I don’t know, this kind of feels like a joke.’ And I thought, ‘Well, yeah. It’s a good joke. That’s exactly what it is, Steve. I’m the guy who writes funny things for you to say on the comedy show that we’re making.’ It bothered me in the moment, but over time I realized he was completely correct. He didn’t want anything to feel like a joke. He wanted it to feel like truth and therefore play like a joke. That is a hard thing to trust. You want to be an overachiever and write a million of the best jokes you could, but there was really something to learn from him and also from [creator] Greg Daniels.”

I do not have similar insight into what the Arrested Development writers’ room looked like, but I imagine it was almost the opposite. Nearly every single line in the show is a joke; intended to make the viewer laugh. That means its scripts perform the dual task of advancing the plot of the episode and revealing the characters’ motivations, similar to The Office‘s scripts. But with the key difference of having an added layer of comedy to each line, very unlike The Office.

Arrested Development‘s dedication to joke-telling naturally caused some of its other elements to suffer. If asked to describe the plot of an average AD episode, I would probably respond, “Michael Bluth has to prevent one of his family members from causing damage to his company or deal with something else involving The Bluth Company.” It does not sound very exciting; on paper, it is not. Of course, there are countless variations throughout the series on this simple premise, some of them more ridiculous and imaginative than anything else on television, but the fact remains that AD is not an especially plot-heavy show. While The Office was also primarily concerned for the majority of its run with the day-to-day operations of a company, what actually went on in each episode revolved around the interpersonal relationships of Dunder Mifflin’s employees. The foremost of these was the sometimes sad and bittersweet romance between Jim Halpert, unremarkable paper salesman, and Pam Beesly, unremarkable receptionist.

Jim and Pam’s relationship was such a compelling narrative force during The Office‘s first three seasons that it was hard not to feel like the bottom had dropped out from the show when the pair finally started dating at the start of season 4. Luckily, the show had another poignant dramatic arc in ostensible protagonist Michael Scott’s doomed, brilliantly screwed-up relationship with his boss, Jan Levinson. Theirs was a romance even the most optimistic of viewers found impossible to root for as they watched in horror as two extremely flawed human beings came together and made each other’s lives irreparably worse (or at least it seemed that way until they broke up).

Michael and Jan’s destructive tendencies reached a turning point in the season 4 episode “Dinner Party,” which, not coincidentally, is the show’s funniest and darkest half hour. (It is also the episode about which Philip says, “If I were to single out just one episode of The Office to be spared from a nuclear blast, and I do look forward to that day that I am put in such a position, this would be the one.” I am inclined to agree with everything but the “I look forward to it” part.) “Dinner Party” is a masterpiece because, more than any other episode, it succeeds in fulfilling Novak’s promise that “…if something felt funny it was probably because there was truth in it.”

Watching Michael and Jan’s relationship dissolve–no, implode spectacularly–in the presence of his closest coworkers at a dinner party he forced them to attend is nothing short of awe-inspiring. It is so, so painful to watch (The Office always specialized in a brand of humor labeled “cringe comedy”) because it really feels like a relationship between two damaged people is dying before your very eyes. And yet it is transcendentally, uproariously funny. This is the gold standard sitcoms, heck, comedy in general should aspire to. It is well-observed, devastating, and hilarious.

The Office was never able to match its gloriously demented creative peak in the episodes that followed “Dinner Party,” with a few notable exceptions. The Michael Scott Paper Company arc in season 5, for example, in which Michael Scott, fed up with Dunder Mifflin’s poor treatment of him over the years, finally quits his job as manager, was rooted in genuine dramatic stakes. He starts his own company with the help of a few of his former employees, leading to new dynamics and the first compelling storyline for Pam Beesly after getting together with Jim. Pam quits her job as receptionist and joins Michael on his doomed venture, as fully aware of the foolishness of her decision as she is thrilled to leave behind her dead-end career. And for a beautiful couple of episodes, The Office is taking creative risks and throwing its characters into exciting new places. Of course, it being the sitcom that would go on to bring back characters that had stayed well past their welcome (Andy Bernard and Ryan Howard spring to mind), Michael Scott Paper Company is brought back into the fold of Dunder Mifflin soon enough. Pam is left to spend the next few years as a sales representative and then as the office administrator, her character condemned for the rest of the series to get pregnant, marry Jim, have a baby, get pregnant again, briefly become jealous that Jim may be attracted to a coworker, and have another baby. Her marriage hits a manufactured rough patch in the final season, but it ultimately comes to nothing. She and Jim ride off into the sunset, he as a sports marketer and she as a mural painter.

Pam’s overall arc is emblematic of the show’s increasingly lazy writing in its last few seasons. It could be argued that any sitcom that runs as long as The Office did would eventually run out of ideas for its characters, but the occasional flashes of brilliance like the MSPC arc, Michael leaving in season 7, and the series finale serve as painful reminders to viewers of the truly great sitcom that The Office could have been, had it continued pushing its characters into new territory.

Arrested Development never quite pulls off the perfect drama/comedy hybrid (“dramedy” if you prefer) that peak Office managed so well, but it consistently achieves comedic nirvana by demonstrating a willingness–no, a fanatical devotion–to making fun of the darkest and most twisted aspects of family (at least as dark as a broadcast network would allow). It is no wonder that incest is one of the series’ thematic undercurrents; it is all about the perversion of family from something wholesome and loving to something meaningless and abusive. It is the anti-family sitcom, if you will. Whether you are watching teenage George Michael Bluth, who starts the series as the most innocent Bluth, struggle with lust for his cousin Maeby; or Michael Bluth neglect his son George Michael for the umpteenth time; or Michael’s parents George Sr. and Lucille refuse to take the blame for doing a horrible job of raising their kids; or his siblings using and abusing each other for the pettiest of reasons, it is clear that AD has a fundamentally cynical view of the wealthy, materialistic American family. The creator’s initial premise for the show was that the family would lose all of their money (due to their patriarch committing corporate fraud) and become closer and less terrible as a result; instead they keep most of their money and do not learn much from their mistakes. The entire family is emotionally stunted, hence the show’s name.

How could a comedy so relentlessly dark (at its happiest, just as messed-up as “Dinner Party”) be a better sitcom than one that mostly shies away from the ugliest aspects of humanity? The answer is simple: Arrested Development finds Novak’s treasured “truth” in every depressing moment and sad reality. It obliterates the line between tragedy and comedy, whereas The Office only succeeds when it finds a way to mine jokes from serious events in the lives of its characters.

If your sitcom was only funny when it was also moving, Mr. Novak, then perhaps you should have considered making it a drama instead. Breaking Bad was moving all over the place, and yet it was funnier than the later seasons of your show. Maybe if you had made it more about life’s dead ends and the longing for more that comes with having an office job and less about random crap like Andy Bernard auditioning for an a cappella competition that parodies American Idol, it would be a show worth celebrating. Oh well. At least we still have Arrested Development.

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– by Micah Ward

Back in 2009 when the first Droid phone by Motorola was released, and in 2008 when the first 3G iPhone was put out onto the market, most of us scoffed. We assumed that this whole smartphone nonsense where you have to pay thirty extra dollars a month on top of your existing phone plan made no sense. Hell, most of us had just recently gotten phones with keyboards in them, which felt revolutionary to us. Although a majority of people thought the smartphone trend would never last (including myself), we were all wrong. Smartphones have dominated the telephone market for the better part of the last 5 years, and it seems like mostly everyone you see out in public has one of these high-tech internet connected phones.

But is this a bad thing?

Most certainly not. Smartphones have changed the away our society works. Now, a world of information can be carried in your pocket and can update you on anything you want to hear about. Information is more and more readily available with new apps such as Facebook Paper, which allows users to see their Facebook feed and breaking news on the same timeline. This breaks the border between the news world and the social world and allows you to see only the news that you care about, which makes current events a lot more appealing.

But this article isn’t about any cutting edge apps for these devices, it’s about the phones themselves. Due to the iPhone (well, the first one with mobile internet, the iPhone 3G) and the Droid (not the first HTC one, but the first popular Motorola model) being released around the same time, competition was imminent. And that’s a good thing. When two or more large companies are after the same market, they are constantly bettering their products in order to outsell the other, giving us, the consumers a better product and better deals when sales occur.

And to this day, Androids and iPhones dominate the smartphone market. Although Windows phones are also in the running, this article is not about them, and I apologize in advance if I offend any Windows phone users by not including them. Regardless, these two types of devices have been going at it for years, constantly trying to outsell the other. It’s amazing to me that one company working on one phone (Apple/iPhone) can still manage to outsell many multi-billion dollar manufacturers who work to make the best possible Android phone. When it comes down to it, the buyer wants what they want, and they will buy whatever their preference is, even if the phone they are passing up has better features. Which is fine, because you should always use what you are comfortable with, not what the market tells you to buy.

Smartphones have come a long way, too. For example, the iPhone 3G could only browse the web for 5 hours on a good day without dying, while the newest iPhone generation boasts 10 hours minimum of constant web browsing in order to wear the battery down. This being said, minor features and small technological advances that we “cannot live without” are the major selling points of smartphones.

But where is the market going to go?

It seems as if us “flat-thinkers”, people who can only see the here and now and cannot really look into the future, see this generation of smartphones as the best. I mean, what could get better than having a phone that is smarter than you? They couldn’t possibly get any better….right? That’s most likely what people thought about other technological advances that we have long surpassed since. So, you ask yourself in a non-rhetorical way, how could smartphones get better? Well, let me put forward a few ideas that I have of what the future may hold.

Solar Powered Charging
Why hasn’t this been done yet? The technology is there and it is old enough that it can be done for a relatively cheap price. So why not include a solar charging panel on the back of the phone to lay out in those hot sunny days, but also include a charging port in the phone if it is overcast for a normal cord.

Thought-Reading Phones
Imagine Siri. Now imagine Siri without having to speak. When a button is pushed, the phone would tune into your thought channel and do whatever you pleased in a matter of milliseconds. Obviously this would involve organic surgery and the technology most likely isn’t there yet, but we can dream, can’t we?

Projected Keyboard
I’ve seen concept art for this, but never an execution. Typing long paragraphs on your phone is annoying. What if the phone had a built in projector that flashed a keyboard onto any surface in order to type with ease and grace? Either way, I’ll probably still end up typing with just two fingers.

Better Batteries
This is an obvious one, but come on. I have to charge my phone at least once during the day to make it last until night. JUST UP THE BATTERY CAPACITY ALREADY.

Front-Facing Flash
If you’re like me and have tried to take a Snapchat or a selfie in the dark, you’ll be much to your dismay when you realize that the picture shows up dark. Companies should implement a front facing flash for the front camera in order for people to rev up their “selfie game”.

These are just a few ideas. Many more things can happen in the market of phones, because there are so many possibilities. I doubt any of my predictions will come true, but if they do, you can say you heard it here first. Or, if you heard it somewhere else first, you could lie and said I made it up. Whatever you feel like.

All joking aside, I am very eager to see what the smartphone market has to offer and I will be anxiously awaiting the next generation of iPhones and Androids. If you have any neat ideas regarding advancements in smartphone technology, feel free to post a comment on my blog, goldenanchurs.wordpress.com. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope you use your phone in good health.

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P.S.: I did an interview with Phil on my blog regarding Save State Gamer, and it might be worth checking out if you’re missing Phil’s posts while he’s gone!

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