Category: Entertainment

A Side By Side Look at How I Met Your Mother’s Excellent Use of Flashbacks

By: Michael Abitabilo

Fans of How I Met Your Mother have long appreciated the show’s dedication to continuity. As we have embarked on an eight plus year journey with the show’s five main characters, the show has frequently called back to prior episodes and themes, either to enhance a then current joke or story line, or to close a previously open-ended plot point.

From a production standpoint, the show’s creators have ostensibly done an excellent job of seamlessly depicting (storyline) time travel to reward their longtime viewers with references to events that took place years earlier. When the show has flashed back to an important but previously seen moment in time, it has relied on footage that has already aired to set the stage. (Think “Slap Bet” or “Slutty Pumpkin,” for example). Often, though, the show depicts separate but related events that we are to believe occurred just before, during, or after the scenes which were previously aired. In these instances, the show’s creators have had to recreate prior scenes while shooting new footage in order to make the story flow.

New York City’s Best Subway Lines, Definitively Ranked

By: Brian Mangan

The Read Zone takes a look at the MTA New York City subway system, ranking the top eight and declaring a winner.

As a lifelong New Yorker, I have always been fascinated with the subway system.  Not only is New York City’s subway system iconic and historic, it is also one of the biggest, best, and most cost-effective in the world.

The NYC subway system has 468(!) stations – a massive total that is only 60 less than the combined total of all other subway systems in the country. The average weekday ridership on the MTA is calculated to be over 5.3 million, making it the most-used transportation system in the Western Hemisphere.  The system is made up of 24 lines, covering 660 miles of track.  Of course, being the lifeline in the city that never sleeps, the MTA subway operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  For the price of a single fare, you can travel from the northern tip of the Bronx, down to Coney Island at the southern shore of Brooklyn, out to Flushing, through Times Square, up to Museum Mile, or get out for a day at the South Street Seaport, traversing hundreds of miles of tunnels to do so.

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s Suspension of Dan Le Batard Is Cowardly and Wrong

By: Brian Mangan

(Edit: Dr. J. Scott Smith, a professor of communication at Christopher Newport University and frequent contributor to The Read Zone, published a counter-point to this article earlier today.  You can read it here.)

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA), the body empowered to vote for entry to the Baseball Hall of Fame, today suspended one of its own members, Dan Le Batard, for allowing a popular website to poll its readers and use his ballot.

Let me be clear: what Deadspin did with Dan Le Batard’s Hall of Fame Ballot was brilliant, clever, and revealing; Dan Le Batard was courageous for volunteering and accepting the consequences; and the criticism of Deadspin and Le Batard by the mainstream media and the Baseball Writers’ Association has done more to turn me against the so-called old guard than any of their prior transgressions have.  As a long-time defender of the BBWAA, this is the definitive proof that I’ve always feared — that the Hall of Fame voting process is a farce; a process propagated by the small-minded and provincial.  And for that reason, I’m out.

The Sing Off Season 4 Finale! Plus Season 4’s Top 10 Performances

By: Brian Mangan

(Ed: I will be updating this post with reviews and updating the Top 10 List with videos and links as the night goes on.  Stay tuned!)

Prior reviews:  Episodes 1 & 2Episode 3Episode 4, Episode 5, and Episode 6!

Before I get into the review of the finale, a few words to everyone reading.  Thank you!  It’s a pleasure to read and review a cappella and to have gotten feedback from so many people over the last two weeks.  Special props in particular to the members of Vocal Rush, who linked us on their official facebook page ( and to the members of the Filharmonic who were nice enough to add us on facebook!  Now, @benfolds, answer my tweets!

Finale Recap!

The Sing Off Season 4, Episode 6: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Home Free

By: Brian Mangan

Prior reviews:  Episodes 1 & 2Episode 3Episode 4, and Episode 5

Episode 6: Movie Night

Only four groups remain!

We noted last episode that, rather than distinguish a group or two as the cream of the crop, the groups all put up good performances that served only to bunch them closer together.   The Filharmonic dropped back to the pack, Home Free continued in their own style, Ten finally launched a hit which made them serious contenders, and Vocal Rush came back from a lackluster week to show that their Episode 1 powerhouse was not a fluke.  All the groups here in the final four have definitely earned it.

Before getting into the reviews, one observation.  I, like many people, have been waiting all season for a group to make the leap that Pentatonix took in Season 3 (and Committed took in Season 2) to emerge as a group clearly destined for stardom.  However, after five episodes of competition (before tonight) it appears that none of the remaining groups are poised to do that.

The Sing Off Season 4: Episode 5 Recap and Reviews

By: Brian Mangan

Prior reviews:  Episodes 1 & 2, Episode 3, Episode 4

All six groups will be competing in this episode, and two will be eliminated.  As of last episode, we had the groups ranked as such:

Strongest Contenders: Filharmonic (A+, A), Acoustikats (A-, A+)

Wild Cards: VoicePlay (A-, B+), Home Free (B+, A-)

In Danger: Vocal Rush (B-, A), Ten (B+, B+)

Edit: This ended up being one of the strangest Sing Off episodes I’ve ever seen.  The individual performances this week were all very good, but none were great, and they did nothing to really help distill my understanding of what these groups can do.  The group sing off’s at the end were also entertaining, but as one of the judges mentioned (I think it was Jewel), there were no clear winners or losers. At least they were fun — this season of the Sing Off has actually done a great job showing how fun the art form can be in general.  In any event, on to the individual performances: