Pretty Much Pop #16 Considers the Sitcom “Friends” 25 Years Later

Mark Linsenmayer, Erica Spyres, and Brian Hirt examine the conventions, techniques, and staying power of the beloved ’90s sitcom. Are we supposed to identify with, or idolize, or merely like these people? What makes the formula work, did it sustain itself over its 10-year run, was it successfully replicated (like by How I Met Your Mother or by Chuck Lorre?), and what parts haven’t aged well?

We reviewed a ton of articles to prep for this that you may want to read:

This episode includes bonus discussion that you can only hear by supporting the podcast at This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts or start with the first episode.

Incredible Mental Math Gymnastics on “Countdown”

Countdown is a British TV game show revolving around words and numbers. In the numbers round, contestants select six of twenty-four shuffled tiles with numbers on them. Next, a computer generates a random three-digit target number and the contestants have thirty seconds to get as close to that number as possible by combining the six numbers through addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. This memorable episode of Countdown aired in March 1997 and starred James Martin and his rather unusual way of arriving at the target number of 952.

One YouTube user suggested a different way: 6 x 75 = 450; 450 ÷ 50 = 9; 100 + 3 = 103; 9 x 103 = 927; 927 + 25 = 952

I found yet another way: 100 + 3 = 103; 103 x 6 = 618; 618 x 75 = 46,350; 46,350 ÷ 50 = 927; 927 + 25 = 952

What about you? Any more suggestions?

By profession, Matthias Rascher teaches English and History at a High School in northern Bavaria, Germany. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twitter.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.