TIME Television

Larry David Once Pulled a George Costanza

2013 Summer TCA Tour - Day 2
Larry David onstage at the 2013 Summer Television Critics Association tour on July 25, 2013 in Beverly Hills. Frederick M. Brown—Getty Images

'You think you're an important man?! You are a laughing stock!'

Comedian Larry David once quit his job as a writer on Saturday Night Live only to return as if nothing had happened. Years later the story would inspire a Seinfeld bit where George Costanza did the same, according to a new profile of David in New York magazine.

These clips of Costanza quitting, already favorites for Seinfeld lovers, become so much funnier when you imagine David actually doing it.

The profile, timed with the opening of David’s new Broadway show Fish in the Dark, contains a number of other memorable anecdotes about the famous grouch. For instance, David once returned a Porsche two weeks after purchasing it.

“It was like a bad suit,” he said. “It didn’t fit. It was a bad fit for me. I felt very self-­conscious.”

Read more at New York

TIME electronics

This Is the Best $500 Television You Can Buy

A Vizio E-Series flat panel television.
A Vizio E-Series flat panel television. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission—ASSOCIATED PRESS

It's the Vizio E500i-B1

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a list of the best technology to buy. Read the full article below at TheWirecutter.com.

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If I were looking for a good, inexpensive, 50-inch TV, I’d get the Vizio E500i-B1. It has above-average picture quality—better than many more expensive models—with impressively dark blacks (a rarity in this price range of LCD), bright whites, decent motion resolution, and reasonably accurate colors. It also consistently gets top marks from the best TV reviewers on the web.

If the Vizio is sold out, or otherwise unavailable, the Panasonic 50AS530U offers almost as good picture quality but costs a bit more money ($600 as of this writing). Its contrast ratio isn’t quite as good as the Vizio, but the motion resolution is decent.

Who should get this TV?

If your TV is dying, has died, or you’re looking for something larger, this TV offers pretty good performance for a low price.

In terms of picture quality, this TV is generally better than most LCDs in this price range. Upgrading to more expensive models will result in better motion resolution, better contrast ratios, and more accurate colors. (In other words, these qualities makes a more lifelike, realistic picture.)

Keep in mind, though, that for around $500, when it comes to a 50-inch TV, there is no clear winner in terms of picture quality. All have strengths and weaknesses. And stepping down slightly in size doesn’t get you enough of an increase in picture quality to offset the loss in size. So even a great-looking 40-inch TV doesn’t look enough better than the Vizio to make up for how much smaller it is.

If the best picture quality possible is your goal, check out our Best TV guide.

How we picked

$500 can get you pretty great picture quality. According to our research, spending a bit more for this size doesn’t yield much (if any) improvement in picture quality.

I also eliminated most smaller screen sizes in the same price range: 48 inches was okay, 47 was pushing it, and 46 would have to be pretty amazing to make up for its smaller size.

Off-brand TVs aren’t going to offer better picture quality than one of the major brands. Unlike many categories we cover at the Wirecutter, good TVs don’t just “happen.” There isn’t going to be a surprise no-name brand that looks better than the big names. Not this year, anyway. Maybe someday.

After making this shortlist, I queried the opinions of TV reviewers I trust. The E-series was consistently among the most positively reviewed, but only by a small amount. To be honest, the TVs in this range are “good,” but none are “great.” That’s just the nature of this part of the market.

Our Pick

The Vizio E-series wins out for having impressively dark black levels (again, a rarity in this price range of LCD), but still having a bright image. The motion resolution is OK, as is the color accuracy. Neither of the last two are standouts, but neither are “bad.” Overall the image is “very good,” which, when you consider the price, is excellent.

Input lag, important to gamers, is excellent: under 30 ms. Average for TVs is around 55 ms.

Though it seems an odd aspect to praise, no reviewer seemed to dislike the E-series. For an inexpensive LCD, that’s actually pretty impressive.

CNET liked the E-series the best, giving it a 4/5 stars and an 8/10 for performance. They concluded, “With picture quality that outdoes that of numerous more-expensive TVs, Vizio’s E series likely represents the best value of 2014.”

Digital Trends liked the E-series, as did Sound & Vision and Rtings.com.

Consumer Reports liked the E-series the least of the major review sites (paywall), giving the 50-inch a 57/100. Their highest rating in this size is 69/100, our runner up. They felt it had “Very Good” image quality overall, praising the detail and black levels, but found the color accuracy and viewing angle to be below average (more on the latter in the Flaws section.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Like all LCDs, the E-series has some picture quality drawbacks, most notably, motion blur and off-axis viewing. Motion blur is when the image blurs when something on screen moves (or the entire image movies, like a camera pan). The E-series uses a method to reduce motion blur called black frame insertion. CNET said this reduced blur “slightly,” but they “ended up turning off MBR because it tended to introduce flicker in some areas, particularly white fields.”

To get better motion resolution and otherwise decent picture quality, you’ll have to spend a lot more.

The other issue is off-axis viewing. The color saturation and overall picture quality decreases the further away you are from dead center. If you have a big couch, or tend to have people (you like) that sit off to the sides of a TV, consider the similarly priced 49-inch Vizio M-series. This TV doesn’t look as good straight on, but will look better than the E-series off to the side.

Lastly: sound. No TV in this range has good sound quality. In fact, with very few exceptions, no TV has good sound quality. We highly recommend checking out an inexpensive soundbar, which will sound radically better than any TV. OK, almost any TV.

Reported issues

There are reports on the E-series TVs shutting down randomly. It’s hard (if not impossible) to judge how many units are truly affected by this issue. We go into depth about this in the full guide but the short version is, from what we can tell from Amazon reviews, approximately 4 percent of people have this problem. According to Consumer Reports, LCD TVs in general have a 3-5 percent problem rate, so this is in that range.

The Vizio’s satisfaction ratio is a bit lower than the top competition, which isn’t ideal, but all are fairly close. 76 percent (4 and 5 stars) are happy with their E-series. No TV is perfect.

If you run into these issues, Amazon has a 30-day return policy. Costco gives 90 days to members. Best Buy’s policy is 15 days. Vizio’s warranty is 1 year on parts and labor.

For now the E-series remains the pick, but if these potential issues concern you, check out our runner-up pick.

Runner-up

The Panasonic 50AS530U was liked by some reviewers more than Vizio’s E-series and by other reviewers less so. The difference was so close that it wasn’t quite enough to offset the $50 (9%) difference in price. The contrast ratio isn’t quite as good; the color accuracy is similar, as is the motion resolution. The off-axis performance is a little better.

Competition

For a full list of the TVs we considered, but didn’t pick, check out the full article.

Is now the best time to buy?

A bevy of new TVs were announced at the yearly Consumer Electronics Show in early January. It’s too soon to tell which might be our pick for 2015, but we know they’re coming. We expect to start seeing reviews and tests of the new models this summer. Will the new models be better than the Vizio? We honestly don’t know. Most new models are better than the ones they replace, but not always. For now, the E-series is a great TV.

Wrapping it up

The Vizio E500i-B1 is a great $500(ish) 50-inch TV. It has above-average picture quality, with dark black levels and a bright image. Its color accuracy and motion resolution are only okay, but that’s not too different from other TVs in this price range. In short, it’s a decent, inexpensive 50-inch TV.

This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendation please go to The Wirecutter.com.

TIME Television

News of Hitler Finally Reaches Downton Abbey

Beer Hall Putsch Trial
A courtroom scene on Mar. 3, 1924, during the treason trial of Adolf Hitler and Erich Ludendorff (following the unsuccessful Beer Hall Putsch of November 1923 Hulton Archive / Getty Images

"A horrid bunch" is putting it mildly, Lord Grantham

Contains spoilers for Season 5 Episode 4 of Downton Abbey

Though Lady Edith was more concerned with the whereabouts of the missing Michael Gregson, history buffs may have caught something else in the news she received from Munich during the episode of Downton Abbey that aired in the U.S. on Jan. 25.

Viewers already knew that Michael had disappeared after being involved in a fight in Munich, shortly after moving to Germany in order to divorce his mentally ill wife so that he could marry Edith. Now, with a phone call from Michael’s office, more information is available: the gang who got into a fight with Michael was apparently a “group of thugs” who “wear brown shirts and go around bullying people,” as Lord Grantham phrases it. Their leader, who tried to start a revolution, is on trial, so more information about Michael’s fate may soon become available.

If you didn’t guess, that “absurd” man — as Edith puts it — is Adolf Hitler.

The trial she mentions took place in March of 1924, after the event sometimes referred to as the “Beer Hall Putsch.” For about a year before that, Hitler (along with General Erich von Ludendorff) had agitated for a fascist, monarchial revolution against the republican government that ran Germany at the time. Throughout 1923, the Hitlerites clashed with their many opponents throughout Germany, culminating in an attempted coup. Here’s how TIME described what happened, in the Nov. 19 issue of that year:

Under cover of darkness General Erich von Ludendorff, flagitious, inscrutable, unrelenting, sallied forth into the streets of Munich, capital of Bavaria, accompanied by his faithful Austrian, Herr Adolf Hitler, to make a coup for the Hohenzollerns [a dynasty of monarchs] by way of celebrating Nov. 9, the fifth anniversary of the abdication of the then Kaiser of Doorn.

With unerring instinct they led their men to a beerhouse, called the Bügerbrau Keller, famed Bavarian cellar. Within was Bavarian Dictator von Kahr, Minister President von Knilling, Minister of Interior Schweier and some others. Dr. von Kahr was in the middle of outlining his state policy in which he denounced Marxism, when the door opened and in walked Herr Hitler and General von Ludendorff with some of their followers, who fired a few shots into the ceiling by way of effect.

Herr Hitler declared the Bavarian Government had been superseded and elected himself not only head of Bavaria but Chancellor of all Germany.

Though it seemed the next day that “Chancellor” Hitler was in control of the city, the revolt was soon crushed. Hitler was found hiding in a friend’s house a few days later and, after a trial in the spring of 1924, convicted of treason. But, though Lady Edith wouldn’t have known it then, that was not the last the world would see of him and his followers. “They’re a horrid bunch, from the sound of it,” Lord Grantham said — and history would prove him very, very right.

TIME Television

Wrestling Fans Lash Out With ‘#CancelWWENetwork’

John Cena, Bray Wyatt
John Cena, top, and Bray Wyatt compete during Wrestlemania XXX at the Mercedes-Benz Super Dome in New Orleans on April 6, 2014 Jonathan Bachman — AP

The response to Sunday’s Royal Rumble was anything but scripted

Wrestling fans were seething after the World Wrestling Entertainment’s annual Royal Rumble event came to what appears to be an unsatisfactory end in Philadelphia on Sunday night.

After Roman Reigns emerged victorious for the evening’s highly anticipated battle royal finale, fans sounded off in mass on social media outlets with the hashtag: “#CancelWWENetwork” that was trending worldwide by the night’s end.

According to wrestling blogs, spectators at the event were chanting for refunds as rumors swirled that the WWE Network cancellation page had crashed as fans bombarded the site.

Sunday night’s fiasco was the latest in a long line of setbacks for the WWE since the company launched a subscription-based digital network last year that has largely failed to win over its own base.

The network first hit the airwaves in early 2014, but appears to have all but backfired as disappointing subscription numbers sent stock prices tumbling and lead to large-scale layoffs at the Connecticut-based company.

Read next: WWE Is Taking a Beating—And Not the Fake for TV Kind of Beating

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME movies

Debbie Reynolds Wins the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award

And her daughter Carrie Fisher presented it to her

Hollywood veteran Debbie Reynolds was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 21st annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday.

In her career, which began in the 1950s, the 82-year-old Reynolds has been nominated for one Oscar, five Golden Globes and one Emmy. Her big break came when she starred alongside Gene Kelly in the 1952 classic Singin’ in the Rain, says People.

“God gave us talent, so we’re very fortunate,” she said. “My favorite movie was The Unsinkable Molly Brown … In that film, I got to sing a wonderful song called ‘I Ain’t Down Yet.’ Well, I ain’t. Thank you all so much for this wonderful award.”

Reynold’s award was presented by her daughter, Carrie Fisher, famous for her iconic portrayal of Princess Leia in Star Wars.

The SAG gives the award every year to an actor or actress who represents the “finest ideals of the acting profession.” Last year’s SAG Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Rita Moreno, who also played a part in Singin’ in the Rain.

[People]

TIME Television

Watch Blake Shelton Mock The Bachelor on SNL

The women of SNL throw themselves at the country music star

Blake Shelton brought his gentlemanly Southern charms to a spoof of The Bachelor on Saturday while he was on hosting duties for Saturday Night Live.

In the sketch, the women of the show throw themselves at the country music star, in character as a bachelor from Iowa, as they try to win the television show competition.

At the same time the skit pokes fun at the show for supposedly sending the black contestants home first and featuring contestants who have worked in the porn industry.

This week’s show also featured a humorous rendition of Tom Brady’s press conference addressing allegations that he altered the air pressure in footballs to improve his team’s performance.

TIME Music

Watch The Decemberists Sing YouTube Comments on Jimmy Kimmel

Who knew the comment section could provide musical inspiration?

The Decemberists released a new album, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, this week and to mark the occasion, they made an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Instead of performing one of the songs off of their new album, though, the band took a page out of Kimmel’s playbook and turned to the Internet for inspiration, composing original songs based on YouTube comments. The result was something like Kimmel’s Celebrities Read Mean Tweets series, but set to a catchy tune.

Topics for the songs ranged from deep thoughts on the 2015 State of the Union address to deeper thoughts on Justin Bieber. Comments from “Kim Kardashian’s Plastic Surgery Transformation,” cute pandas wrestling, some hungry kittens waiting for dinner and a 2005 MIT commencement address providing additional musical inspiration.

 

TIME Television

Take a Sneak Peek at the New Hannibal Season Three Trailer

Delve into this delicious morsel of a trailer

While the third season of cult thriller Hannibal doesn’t appear on our screens until the summer, fans will be pleased to hear that NBC has released a tasty teaser trailer to tide us over until the dapper doctor returns.

The clip shows Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) alive and well having survived Hannibal Lecter’s (Mads Mikkelsen) bloodbath at the end of season two, Variety reports.

Graham is obsessively trying to track Lecter’s whereabouts, embarking on a mission that takes him all over the world, including Florence, Italy.

As well as revisiting a number of characters, expect season three to bring you a slew of fresh faces, including several from Thomas Harris’ novel Red Dragon.

[Variety]

TIME Television

Jeopardy! Contestant Can’t Stop Apologizing for Mixing Up Iggy Azalea and Azealia Banks

He joined Twitter solely for this purpose

“This Australian hip-hopper used the pet name/street name system to come up with her rap name,” host Alex Trebek said on a recent episode of Jeopardy!

Contestant Nicholas Berube quickly buzzed in, offering the response, “Who is Azealia Banks?” He was, of course, wrong. What he meant to say was, “Who is Iggy Azalea?” It was an innocent mistake, as they are both “hip-hoppers” with similar names, but it’s kinda funny because the two rappers openly hate each other.

Berube clearly felt pretty bad about the mixup because he joined Twitter solely to apologize. First to Azealia Banks:

And then just more generally to the whole Internet:

After making the mistake while taping the show, Berube said he “immediately knew the internet would explode,” but couldn’t defend himself until the episode aired months later.

He seems like a really nice guy, doesn’t he? But sorry, ladies, he’s made sure to let everybody know he’s off the market:

 

TIME Television

Pharrell to Appear on The Simpsons

XXX performs onstage during Y100's Jingle Ball 2014 at BB&T Center on December 21, 2014 in Miami, FL.
Pharrell Williams performs onstage during Y100's Jingle Ball 2014 on December 21, 2014 in Miami, FL. Larry Marano—2014 Getty Images

He will make a cameo on the show's Feb. 8 episode

Pharrell Williams will make a cameo as himself in an upcoming episode of The Simpsons.

The “Happy” singer will appear in an episode titled “Walking Big & Tall,” scheduled to air on Feb. 8, Entertainment Weekly reports.

In the episode, Pharrell offers to write a city anthem for the Simpson family’s hometown of Springfield.

Pharrell is the latest guest star in the show’s current season, a list that includes comedians Nick Offerman and Sarah Silverman, as well as the cast of Futurama.

Entertainment Weekly has the full story, and an exclusive preview of the Simpsonized Pharrell, here.

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