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Test Pattern: Unanswered TV questions

Why did ‘The Brady Bunch’ have only two bedrooms for six kids?

Unanswered TV questions: ‘Brady Bunch’ house, ‘Lost’ hatch

Sure, I watch TV for entertainment, but sometimes it's all I can do not to put a foot through the screen in frustration. Many reasons for that (the general quality of shows these days, Hollywood's obsession with wealth), but the shows also invite weird plot-related irritation with their UQs — Unanswered Questions. Every show has one or more, questions that normal people would ask, but that would ruin the entire plot of a show if they were actually voiced.

After watching ABC's "Lost" last night, I'm faced again with one of my favorites: Why the heck aren't all the castaways living in the hatch? You've got a planeload of survivors, a wilderness that regularly spits out people who try to kidnap them, and regular massive downpours of rain. Meanwhile, inside the hatch, you've got a weather-protected roof and walls, light, heat and power, washing machines, a sink, chairs and cots, music, a shower, and a pantry stocked with food. And you're telling me that these people are kept outside?

No matter what story Jack and Locke make up about the dangers of the hatch, I can't buy for a minute that regular folk stowed on an island aren't going to do everything in their power to get to live inside. Watch one episode of "Survivor" and you'll see that after just a week or two, the participants would sell out the family dog for one night of sleep in a real bed — the "Lost" castaways have been outside for months.

"Lost" is the king of unanswered questions, of course. (We address .) But in addition to the more plot-centric questions such as "what do the numbers mean?" and "who are the Others?," there's a whole book full of more practical questions that poke at viewers. My co-worker confesses that it bugs her how the castaways are storing some of the Dharma-branded food outside, where rain and bugs and animals can ruin it, instead of inside the protected hatch. Sure, they have plenty of food now, but how do they know it won't run out?

Perhaps the classic Unanswered Question comes from a favorite show of mine, "The Brady Bunch." Come on, you know it, say it with me: How does Mike Brady, a well-off architect, build a house for six kids and put in only two kids' bedrooms? And you know the answer as well as I do: It's easier for shooting purposes, and it makes for more drama because all the kids have a reason to be in a confined space together. (And don't say he didn't have six kids when he built it, because in the pilot, the Brady men lived in a completely different house.)

The theme song to "Mystery Science Theater 3000," the classic show about a man and his robots living in space watching bad movies, featured these theme song lyrics: "If you're wondering how he eats and breathes, and other science facts. Repeat to yourself, 'It's just a show, I should really just relax'." And that's a good sentiment, because there will always be holes in television-show plots, and some holes will just have to be accepted. But I'd love to hear your favorite UQs. Send them in (with a decent description of the show's setup, if needed), and I'll print some of the best ones in a future column. It might be kind of cathartic to release all that frustration.

Real World goes to Denver, but you won’t see much of city

MTV announced Monday that the next season of "The Real World," its long-in-the-tooth reality show, will be Which is a beautiful city, and home to some of my dear friends, but at this point I have to agree with , who notes that "they could just do the show on a soundstage as long as it had a bar and a hot tub."

I was an avid fan of "The Real World" back in the day, back when it was a true documentary of sorts, featuring kids with career goals and imperfect bodies and witty remarks. I've written about how since the format required the kids to all work at a group job, and how the casting directors have apparently stopped looking for participants with any brainpower.

The show is all but lost to people who may have enjoyed the smarter seasons now. I'm guessing that beyond we few die-hards who still hope it will get better, the only folks watching are pre-teens up past what should be their bedtime. And if they're thinking that these characters are folks they should be emulating, I weep for our future. They're not learning to work towards a goal, as they might have learned from season one's Julie or Norman or Heather B., instead they're learning about eating disorders, breast implants, and that it really is possible to spend every free moment of your life in a bar.

I tried to think about when the last "Real World" season was in which the city actually made a difference. After the first three seasons, set in NY, LA and San Francisco, the show tried to make the jump to London, but what would seem a wonderful setting instead became a morass of dullness. Since then, it's pretty much been all hot tubs, cleavage, and filmed vomiting. (If MTV hasn't patented VomitCam, well, it surely seems like they have.)

When I wrote about possible future locations for "Real World," we were from those who felt locating the reality show in their hometown would be a good thing — that it would draw attention to all the great things to do there, or to the location's natural beauty. But realistically, I'd say that 90% of the folks who wrote in just thought it would give their choice of city some kind of external validation if MTV moved its cameras in. (Joe in Riverdale, Michigan is still waiting.)

No matter how people may diss MTV, it can still bestow some scary cachet on a place. But for those of you in Denver, hoping that your beautiful Rocky Mountains and lively neighborhoods and pleasant parks will take the spotlight, don't get your hopes up. If it's not a bar that allows dancing on the tables or an alley that can be vomited in, you're unlikely to see anything familiar on "The Real World Denver."

Multi-link Monday

I don't know about you all, but last week seemed exceedingly long and draggy. Maybe this week will be better — let's start it off right with our quintet of random linkage.

• Did you know Twinkies originally came with banana filling, but switched to vanilla when World War II made the import of bananas too costly? But now are back, in a promo tie-in with the release of "King Kong" on DVD. I'm fascinated with weird junk food, so if anyone's tried them, let me know what they're like. Mmm, that fakey banana taste.

• Remember, this summer we'll redo our best and worst commercials contest. About that time, I always get a ton of mail asking me to ID various songs in commercials. specializes in identifying songs from TV shows and ads. Looks like a fun one to investigate.

• T as determined by ESPN.com. An old article, but reading it reminded me of some classic episodes.

• Are you familiar with the 1950s film short, "Duck and Cover," in which Bert the Turtle hides inside his shell to be protected from an atomic attack? Here's a on the history of the short, which includes a link to the Prelinger Archives, where you can view the short. Duck and cover!

• Wondering what the terror alert level is in terms "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" fans can understand? Why, Need the "Sesame Street" version instead?

• The sheer simplicity of this reader-submitted site cracks me up. Say to yourself: "Self, I wonder if ABC's 'Lost' is a repeat this week?" Then click this site, . Question answered! Thanks to Tracie for the link, and remember to send in your favorite link for consideration. I'm still sifting through the new ones from last week, but I'll get through them.