Al's Abyss

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Alrin

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Al's Abyss
« on: July 31, 2010, 09:41:17 AM »

As per Joe's request, here be my list of listy listness. Enlist. Err.. enjoy.

Al's Top 20 Favourite TV Shows.... Of All Time.*

*Upon reflection the original list was erroneous. I can't be arsed rectifying the error though, so I'll just make a note right now of two shows that would've made the cut had I spent a bit more time compiling the list - Undeclared and The Black Donnellys. Furthermore, Breaking Bad is a show I'm only recently familiar with, but it would make the cut for the list as well. This means that 18-20 would be replaced and other items of the list might be re-ordered, a task I have no desire to undertake. So, without further ado...
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Alrin

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Re: Al's Abyss
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2010, 09:41:42 AM »

20. - Heroes



Original run: September, 2006 – present

Plot: After a total eclipse casts its shadow across the globe, seemingly calling forth a multitude of everyday men and women with special powers, Dr. Mohinder Suresh, a genetics professor from India, continues to champion his father's theory that there are people with extraordinary abilities living among us...

I was slow coming to the series. I'd heard all the hype and that was enough to initially make me steer clear. When I finally did get around to checking it out, I found the opening episodes slow going. There was enough there for me to watch on, but it wasn't the instant smash people had told me to expect. I found myself feeling indifferent to the seeming major stars - Claire and Peter - with the early highlight being Isaac Mendez.

The slow start vanished with the introduction of Future Hiro in episode five, as suddenly there were real stakes in play. From that point the drama really intensified as we were introduced to a host of interesting characters, foremost among them Claude Raines, Ted Sprague, Charlie Andrews (the delectable Jayma Mays) and, eventually, one of the better television villains of recent memory; Gabriel Gray.

Favourite episode: Company Man - In flashbacks, Bennet is given Claire on the condition that he return her to the Company that he works for if her powers manifest.

When it jumped the shark: How to Stop an Exploding Man - A series that had been slow to build, but eventually showed real promise, completely fizzled in the season finale. Don't even get me started on the subsequent seasons.
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“Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain.”
  —William Shakespeare, Richard II (II, i)

Alrin

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Re: Al's Abyss
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2010, 09:42:12 AM »

19. - Farscape



Original run: March, 1999 – March, 2003

Plot: Astronaut John Crichton, on an experimental space mission, is accidentally hurled across the universe into the midst of an intergalactic conflict. Trapped among alien creatures wielding deadly technology and hunted by a merciless military race, Crichton is on an epic odyssey more spectacular than anything he has ever imagined. 

Farscape was HUGE down here before it ever went to air. It was an Australian show, filmed locally, with a largely Australian cast, funded by an Australian network. It was heavily promoted but never really hit the mark with most audiences. Of course, it grew in status until it was a cult phenomenon - so much so that after cancellation it was granted a short reprieve to tie up loose ends.

It was weird, it was wondrous, it was most definitely quirky, but most of all, Farscape was just rollicking good fun.

Favourite episode: Cracker's Don't Matter - "Kill her. Then we'll have pizza and margarita shooters."

When it jumped the shark: Did it ever really Jump? It came close when Chricton was "twinned", but the resolution to that plot-arc was strong and helped strengthen the remainder of the series.

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“Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain.”
  —William Shakespeare, Richard II (II, i)

Alrin

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Re: Al's Abyss
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2010, 09:42:36 AM »

18. - Chuck



Original run: September, 2007 – present

Plot: When a twenty-something computer geek inadvertently downloads critical government secrets into his brain, CIA and NSA assign two agents to protect him and exploit such knowledge, turning his life upside down.

The show stands or falls on it's characters. While I'm no big fan of Zachary Levi, every other member of the cast shines. Sure, each in differing ways (Yvone Strahovski, for example, stands around looking fine, while Sarah Lancaster just has these amazing eyes...), but it's these support players that won me over.

Favourite episode: Chuck Versus the Undercover Lover - While I feel the second season was a vast improvement over the first (no mean feat considering I thoroughly enjoyed the first), I still rate this season one episode my favourite. It's one of the few Casey-centric episodes, and they're generally the best kind.

When it jumped the shark: The show has gone from strength to strength and shows no sign of slowing down. I've not yet seen any of season three, so I'll be interested to see if there's any decline to be had (the cliffhanger to season two, with Chuck able to "flash" abilities, has me a trifle concerned).
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“Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain.”
  —William Shakespeare, Richard II (II, i)

Alrin

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Re: Al's Abyss
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2010, 09:43:18 AM »

17. - Invader Zim



Original run: March, 2001 – August, 2006

Plot: A short alien bent on conquering Earth poses as a human, and only one paranoid child knows his secret. Warning: Piggies may be involved in resulting insanity.

Jhonen Vasquez's dark, satirical Earth was itself the perfect foil for the inept Zim. When looking upon that bleak society, you couldn't help but root for the tiny Irken to succeed in his mission, however improbable that seemed.

Favourite episode: GIR Goes Crazy and Stuff - The title says it all.

When it jumped the shark: If it ever Jumped it was due to the network's handling of the show, not the show itself.
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“Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain.”
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Alrin

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Re: Al's Abyss
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2010, 09:44:46 AM »

16. - Weeds



Original run: August, 2005 – present

Plot: Nancy Botwin, a newly widowed suburbanite mother, turns to selling marijuana for her primary income.

As a toker of a dozen years and a dealer for a handful of those, much of the show's humour (particularly the early seasons) is right up my alley. The show becomes much, much darker as later seasons seek to be "bigger and better" than those previous, but the humour (generally provided by Doug, Andy and Celia) is never forced.

Favourite episode: The Punishment Light - Just thinking about Doug and Andy's hunt for the rat, and the chaos that ensues, makes me chuckle - mainly because it's something my friends and I could easily have done when we were high.

When it jumped the shark: While it hasn't necessarily Jumped, I've never felt the same love for the show after season three.
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“Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain.”
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Alrin

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Re: Al's Abyss
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2010, 09:45:37 AM »

15. - Battlestar Galactica



Original run: December, 2003 – March, 2009

Plot: The second war against the Cylons is over and The Twelve Colonies have been destroyed. Now Commander Adama of the Battlestar Galatica and President Laura Roslin lead a ragtag fleet of refugees in a supposed search for the fabled lost thirteenth colony, Earth.

Battlestar was one of the most important shows of the last decade. Sure, it lost it's way there toward the end, but it never shied away from the hard questions, even as it began to fade away. When the bullets were flying it was way cool (and the image, from the mini-series, of a human fleet drifting into an oncoming cylon assault, controls completely unresponsive, is indelible in my mind), but it was the very real human drama that made the show so compelling. None of the characters were particularly heroic, every single one had their faults, and all were fully-drawn, brought to life by a cast of relative unknowns.

Favourite episode: 33 - While there were certainly more important episodes, and episodes that addressed relevant social topics in meaningful, intelligent ways, no episode contained the sheer intensity of that first one.

When it jumped the shark: Crossroads: Part 2 - The return of Starbuck and the revelation that Tigh (among others) was a Cylon was the definite Jumping point. The entirety of season three felt a little lost - beginning with the 1 year jump foraward after settling New Caprica, and ending with the aforementioned return/revelation. The show continued to pose tough questions, but it did so amidst a sea of plot-holes and cringeworthy developments.
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“Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain.”
  —William Shakespeare, Richard II (II, i)

Alrin

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Re: Al's Abyss
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2010, 09:46:29 AM »

14. - Wonderfalls



Original run: March – December, 2004

Plot: the story of 24-year-old Jaye Tyler, a sarcastic, apathetic, "overeducated and unemployable" retail clerk at the Wonderfalls Emporium gift shop in Niagara Falls, NY. Jaye's "expectation-free" zone is shattered one day when, out of the blue, inanimate animal objects start talking to her and giving her orders.

The first Bryan Fuller creation on the list, Wonderfalls managed to draw me in despite my finding the character of Jaye mostly repugnant. The rest of her family's antics were a true delight, particularly those of Sharon and Aaron (sister and brother, respectively).

Favourite episode: Muffin Buffalo - Not only does it receive points for being the first part of a crossover with Pushing Daisies (of which we'll be talking more about later), but it contains two of my favourite scenes in the entire series: the family and Fat Pat playing Pictionary, Aaron razzing on Jaye; and Aaron in Dr. Ron's office, razzing on Jaye.

When it jumped the shark: It never got the chance (though some of the proposed later episodes were pretty out there; which means almost nothing when discussing this show).
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“Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain.”
  —William Shakespeare, Richard II (II, i)

Alrin

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Re: Al's Abyss
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2010, 09:46:45 AM »

13. - Scrubs



Original run: October, 2001 – present

Plot: In the unreal world of Sacred Heart Hospital, intern John "J.D" Dorian learns the ways of medicine, friendship and life.

Created by Bill Lawrence who, along with writers Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan, was responsible for the supremely funny Nobody's Watching (which, ironically, nobody watched). The strength of Scrubs was it's ability to treat sensitive topics with dignity in an absurd setting.

Favourite episode: My Screw Up - Brendan Fraser's final appearance as Ben Sullivan, probably the finest recurring guest over the course of the entire series.

When it jumped the shark: My Urologist - As much as I like Elizabeth Banks, her addition to the cast was really the beginning of the end. The show had it's ups and downs prior to her arrival, but it was the addition of her character and the sudden revelation of J.D's impending fatherhood just a single episode later that tipped it over the edge.
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“Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain.”
  —William Shakespeare, Richard II (II, i)

Alrin

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Re: Al's Abyss
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2010, 09:48:13 AM »

12. - Carnivàle



Original run: September, 2003 – March, 2005

Plot: Into each generation is born a creature of light and a creature of darkness.

There's too much to be said about Carnivàle. I could write an essay on the show and still not express exactly what it was that drew me to it. It was a stunning period piece, yes, but it was the sheer ambition displayed by everyone involved (creators, cast, crew) that really set it apart from practically any other show, before or since.

Favourite episode: While I don't particularly have a "favourite", preferring instead to view the entire series as a single body of work, I'll nominate 'Outskirts, Damascus, NE' simply for the wealth of information the episode contained. The entire series had built steadily up to that point, but the revelations within were pretty mind-blowing.

When it jumped the shark: This show would never have jumped. It was so meticulously pre-planned - three "books", each comprising two seasons - that it would've reached it's eventual destination exactly as intended.
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“Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain.”
  —William Shakespeare, Richard II (II, i)

Alrin

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Re: Al's Abyss
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2010, 09:48:38 AM »

11. - The Big Bang Theory



Original run: September, 2007 – present

Plot: A woman who moves into an apartment next door to two brilliant but socially awkward physicists shows them how little they know about life outside of the laboratory.

Two words: Sheldon Cooper! And man, Kaley Cuoco is pretty easy on the eyes, too.

Favourite episode: The Maternal Capacitance - Leonard's mother was a blast, and her instant diagnosis of Raj and Howard's relationship was classic.

When it jumped the shark: I've not seen season three, but the end of season two makes it obvious that Penny has real feelings for Leonard, leading me to believe they'll hook up next season. They could well prove to be a Jumping point, but I'll withold judgement until I've seen how it unfolds.
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“Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain.”
  —William Shakespeare, Richard II (II, i)

Alrin

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Re: Al's Abyss
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2010, 09:49:02 AM »

10. - Dexter



Original run: October, 2006 – present

Plot: Based on Jeff Lindsay's novels Darkly Dreaming Dexter and Dearly Devoted Dexter this crime thriller follows Dexter Morgan. Dexter is a forensic blood spatter expert for the Miami Police Department. He also has an active "night life". Based on a code instilled in him by his foster father, Harry, he hunts down people who have escaped justice and makes sure they don't get away with a crime again.

Dexter was on my radar long before it went to air down here and didn't disappoint once it hit our screens. The show succeeds most in it's sharp humour, intelligent writing and standout performance from Michael C. Hall.

Favourite episode: The Dark Defender - the geek in me can't get enough of this episode and it's wealth of in-jokes.

When it jumped the shark: Another show that goes from strength to strength, the season four finale was simply epic.
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“Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain.”
  —William Shakespeare, Richard II (II, i)

Alrin

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Re: Al's Abyss
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2010, 09:49:29 AM »

9. - How I Met Your Mother



Original run: September, 2005 – present

Plot: A love story in reverse.

Neil Patrick Harris. NEIL PATRICK HARRIS! Seriously, NPH shines in his role as incorrigible ladies man, Barney Stinson. The role finds its roots in the first Harold and Kumar which was a startling career revival for Harris (playing a fictionalised version of himself that could double as a less well-tailored Stinson on a big night out). Hannigan and Segel also help drive the show with their depiction of long-time couple Lily and Marshall, while Radnor and Smoulders fill out the cast admirably enough (certainly much humour can be found at the expense of Smoulder's Canadian reporter).

Favourite episode: Pretty much any episode penned by Chris Harris.

When it jumped the shark: Maybe when Britney Spears guest starred. While the show has long enjoyed a string of star cameos, that particular episode was heavily promoted for simply featuring Britney, which seemed to suggest that the show itself was secondary to the guest appearance. I still love the show, but I think it probably could've concluded a season or two ago.
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“Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain.”
  —William Shakespeare, Richard II (II, i)

Alrin

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Re: Al's Abyss
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2010, 09:49:50 AM »

8. - Spaced



Original run: September, 1999 – April, 2001

Plot: The adventures of Tim and Daisy who rent a room in Marsha Klein's house under the pretense that they are a couple.

Abounding in pop-culture references, Spaced was a comedy written for its writers. It was so obviously a labour of love, more so than perhaps any other series to feature on The List.

Favourite episode: Either Epiphanies or Help - being the two episodes to feature Tyres.

When it jumped the shark: One of the benefits of a short series is the very slim possibility of it ever Jumping. In the case of Spaced, so heavily influenced as it was by pop-culture references, it's hard to imagine it ever would have reached that point. After all, pop-culture is constantly evolving and the writers would never have found themselves with a shortage of inspiration.
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“Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain.”
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Alrin

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Re: Al's Abyss
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2010, 09:50:12 AM »

7. - Pushing Daisies



Original run: October, 2007 – June, 2009

Plot: Ned possesses the unique talent of being able to bring the life to dead merely by touching them. However, the person may remain alive only for one minute, or else someone else dies for them. A second touch will render the person dead again, unable to be revived. Through his connections with PI Emerson Cod, Ned revives his childhood sweetheart, Chuck.

The second Fuller creation to appear on The List, Pushing Daisies is easily the most visually appealing show I've encountered in years. Saturated in a wealth of colour, extended from the sets themselves to the often-retro wardrobes, the show was a showcase for Fuller's wonderful imagination and morbid humour.

As noted previously, the series is linked to Fuller's Wonderfalls by way of the character Marianne Marie Beetle. It's also, less overtly, linked to Fuller's Dead Like Me (of which we'll talk more later) by way of Happy Time Temp Agency (whom Ned contracts with in the season 2 premiere).

Favourite episode: Smell of Success - Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee Herman) guest stars as Oscar Vibenius in the first of his two appearances.

When it jumped the shark: With its premature cancellation, Fuller's creative team had a dig at the network by having the victim of the series finale jump into the mouth of a shark. Very subtle indeed.
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Alrin

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Re: Al's Abyss
« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2010, 09:50:35 AM »

6. - Deadwood



Original run: March, 2004 – August, 2006

Plot: A show set in the late 1800's, revolving around the characters of Deadwood, South Dakota; a town of deep corruption and crime.

Near-unparalleled writing, casting and acting (Ian McShane was truly outstanding) made this one of the greatest shows of the decade. While overshadowed by fellow HBO alum such as The Sopranos and Six Feet Under, it was Deadwood that made me sit up and take notice of what the network could do.

Favourite episode: A Lie Agreed Upon: Part I - The sheer brutality of the exchange between Bullock and Swearengen stuck with me long after the series had ended.

When it jumped the shark: I never took to the character of George Hearst and his arrival left me feeling a little lukewarm to season three. If I were to state a jumping point then, it would be the season two finale. However I'm in the vast minority in my opinion of season three as the lesser of the three series (most people cite it as the very best of the lot), so I think it's fair to say that this is another that never jumped.
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“Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain.”
  —William Shakespeare, Richard II (II, i)

Alrin

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Re: Al's Abyss
« Reply #16 on: July 31, 2010, 09:50:55 AM »

5. - Dead Like Me



Original run: June, 2003 – October, 2004

Plot: A series about life ... after life.

My first exposure to the wonderful world of Bryan Fuller's, and simply one of the greatest shows ever made. By turns hilarious, saddening, and deeply moving

Favourite episode: A Cook - The hardest decision I've had to make so far when picking fave episodes for the list. The first two episodes, each penned by Fuller himself, were outstanding, but I went with episode eight because of its large focus on the character of Rube.

When it jumped the shark: Fuller left during season one after creative clashes with the network, and he seemed to take a touch of the show's magic with him (and yet it still ranks 5th overall on the list, a true indication of how absolutely f**king amazing this show was). And I refuse to speak of that shitty f**king movie. If you try to bring it up in conversation I will ignore you. That is all.
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“Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain.”
  —William Shakespeare, Richard II (II, i)

Alrin

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Re: Al's Abyss
« Reply #17 on: July 31, 2010, 09:51:20 AM »

4. - Arrested Development



Original run: November, 2003 – February, 2006

Plot: Level-headed son Michael Bluth takes over family affairs after his father is imprisoned. But the rest of his spoiled, dysfunctional family are making his job unbearable.

The most criminally underrated show. Ever. Of all time. It should have revolutionised situation comedies. Of course, it cared so little about doing things by the book, or playing it safe, that it never really stood a chance. In the end it was defeated by its own brilliance.

Favourite episode: Afternoon Delight - Karaoke hilarity.

When it jumped the shark: Is there a single episode in which it didn't Jump? That was one of the joys of the show.
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“Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain.”
  —William Shakespeare, Richard II (II, i)

Alrin

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Re: Al's Abyss
« Reply #18 on: July 31, 2010, 09:51:46 AM »

3. - The Simpsons



Original run: December, 1989 – present

An institution. While I remember a time before the Simpsons, there's an entire generation who have never known life without the show. And that's pretty crazy. Twenty one years; and while people endlessly debate the continuing quality of the show, they never fail to tune in to new episodes.

Favourite episode: The Seemingly Never-Ending Story. Man, we're talking about a show that has over 450 episodes. Picking one is impossible, but The Seemingly Never-Ending Story is awesome stuff. It'll do.

When it jumped the shark: Most people suggest it peaked around season four. I say f**k that. There are episodes screened in the eighteenth, nineteenth and tewntieth seasons that are just as funny - if not funnier - than any of the earlier ones. More, recent episodes subtly expand on the setting in ways previously unimagined (for example, in season eighteen it's revealed in a throwaway line that Lenny and Carl are brothers. I mean, that shit just blows your mind!).
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“Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain.”
  —William Shakespeare, Richard II (II, i)

Alrin

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Re: Al's Abyss
« Reply #19 on: July 31, 2010, 09:53:50 AM »

2. - Freaks and Geeks



Original run: September, 1999 – July, 2000

Plot: It's 1980 and this is what high school was like for the rest of us.

Simply put, the greatest single season show ever. Nothing that I'd seen before, nor seen since, ever resonated with me as much as this show. It was the truest work of television I've ever seen. Unlike the vast majority of tv shows, Freaks and Geeks never once resorted to sensationalist stories. Scenes, plots and stories were never exaggerated for comic effect. It was like opening a window onto a group of friends and family - mine, yours, anybody's - and watching a short period of their lives.

Favourite episode: Discos and Dragons - While I would have loved to see the series renewed, this was the perfect finale. I've never seen a show end in such a fitting manner. Outstanding.
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“Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain.”
  —William Shakespeare, Richard II (II, i)
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