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What 8 Classic TV Shows Were Almost Called

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Just like films, TV shows often go through several name changes from original concept to pilot script to pitch meeting to "We think it would be more marketable if you called it"¦.." Here are 8 examples.

1. Roseanne

The original title for Roseanne was Life and Stuff, which its star felt neatly summed up the premise of the show. However, by the time the pilot was filmed, the producers thought it wise to exploit the skyrocketing success of Roseanne Barr's standup comedy and named the show after the "Domestic Goddess" America seemed to love. "Life and Stuff" became the title of the premiere episode.

2. Fraggle Rock

Remember Fraggle Rock? When creator Jim Henson first envisioned his utopia of different Muppet creatures living together in harmony, he called them "Woozles" and the tentatively titled the series Woozle World. The other "species" detailed in his early drafts included the Giant Wozles (who evolved into the Gorgs) and the Wizzles, a precursor to the Doozers.

3. Married...with Children

While Roseanne specialized in blue collar humor, Married"¦with Children's humor was usually just plain blue. In fact, it ran so contrary to the accepted norm for a family sitcom that creators Michael Moye and Ron Leavitt originally shopped their pilot script around under the title Not the Cosby Show.

4. The Outer Limits

The science fiction anthology series The Outer Limits was originally going to be called Please Stand By (as can be seen in this rare clip). But with the Cuban Missile Crisis so fresh in America's mind, ABC decided that flashing the words "Please Stand By" on TV screens might send viewers rushing to their back yard bomb shelters.

5. That 70s Show

That 70s Show was called Teenage Wasteland when Ashton Kutcher auditioned for the role of Michael Kelso. The pilot script underwent a few more name changes (including another Who classic, The Kids Are Alright) before it finally aired.

6. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

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When Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day and Rob McElhenney were cobbling together the pilot script for a proposed TV series about a group of very self-centered buddies, they pitched it to various networks with a title which they felt best summed up the main characters: Jerks. FX kinda sorta liked the idea, except for the title and the locale (the show was originally set in Los Angeles). The creators changed the setting of their show to McElhenney's home town and the new name just presented itself: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

7. Diff'rent Strokes

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When Norman Lear was asked by Fred Silverman to build a series around 10-year-old wiseguy Gary Coleman, he mapped out a basic story that had Gary being adopted by a wealthy white man who lived in the Westchester town of Hastings-on-Hudson and called the project 45 Minutes from Harlem. Conrad Bain was brought on board to portray the pater familias, and he suggested the backstory (wealthy widower honoring his dying housekeeper's request that he adopt her two boys) that became the premise of the series. Since the millionaire's home had moved from the suburbs to nearby Manhattan, the name of the show was changed to Diff'rent Strokes.

8. Happy Days

In the early 1970s, Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson collaborated on a TV series set in idyllic 1950s Milwaukee. Paramount passed on New Family in Town, but they did eventually retool that pilot script and used it as a piece called "Love and the Happy Days" on their anthology series Love, American Style in 1972. That segment was so well-received that Marshall and Belson were hired to produce a series based on their original idea, only with a new title (Happy Days) and some new casting (Tom Bosley instead of Harold Gould).

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Opening Ceremony
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These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
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Opening Ceremony

Modular clothing used to consist of something simple, like a reversible jacket. Today, it’s a $425 pair of detachable jeans.

Apparel retailer Opening Ceremony recently debuted a pair of “2 in 1 Y/Project” trousers that look fairly peculiar. The legs are held to the crotch by a pair of loops, creating a disjointed C-3PO effect. Undo the loops and you can now remove the legs entirely, leaving a pair of jean shorts in their wake. The result goes from this:

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Opening Ceremony

To this:

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Opening Ceremony

The company also offers a slightly different cut with button tabs in black for $460. If these aren’t audacious enough for you, the Y/Project line includes jumpsuits with removable legs and garter-equipped jeans.

[h/t Mashable]

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