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Category: TV

Amazing Race 12 – 11/11/2007

Another week, another elimination.  Even though we were treated to somebody's grandfather in his underwear as he struggled to cross a bog (let's just say he needs to switch to boxers), it was ultimately the lesbian “Married Ministers” Kate & Pat, with their “why run when you can walk” attitude, who got eliminated.  Interestingly, that's already two of the teams I wanted to see eliminated gone from the show.

What else we learned this week was that people can't tie knots.  All it took were some quick instructions and following them to make the hoist detour easy.  But there were several teams who just couldn't get it.

However, a few more teams managed to make my bad list this week.  Let's recap:

  • Kynt & Vixsin – “Dating Goths” – They're stronger that most teams initially thought, but they should be fun to root against for a while.  Eventually, I think Kynt will be the weak link for them.
  • Jennifer & Nathan – “Dating” – I'm not even sure how they're dating.  They don't seem to get along, and Jennifer just breaks down into something mean when she gets frustrated.
  • Ronald & Christina – “Father/Daughter” – I really wanted to like them at first, but Ronald just never shuts up and constantly belittles his daughter.  Unless they start getting along more, they're going to stay on the bad list.

There are a few teams emerging as likeable so far, but I'll keep them to myself in case the editors destroy a teams image like they did with Ronald & Christina this week.  Maybe will get a few closer finishes as well, since Kate & Pat were way behind the pack this week.

Oh well, it's still early!

Amazing Race 12 – 11/4/2007

So begins the 12th season of The Amazing Race.  After having to put up with last season's rehash “all-stars” format (having only one team that actually won the race previously, one team that wasn't even a team previously, and all of the most annoying teams from the previous seasons), we finally get some fresh blood.

As I told my sister before the episode started, the first few episodes are less about finding a team to root for, but finding the teams you want to get eliminated early.

Very quickly, I found myself hoping the following teams would fail:

  • Ari & Staella – “Best Friends” – Who just came across as jerks from minute one.
  • Kate & Pat – “Married Ministers” – Who seem like the token “gay couple” for the show, but don't seem to have a chance to make it past the first few checkpoints.
  • Kynt & Vyxsin – “Dating Goths” – Who seem to have confused goth for the 80's new wave look, and are just too “out there” for me.

Fortunately, we didn't have to deal with Ari & Staella for long, as they got passed up by teams while they verbally abused their donkey assistant in Ireland.

So one down, nine to go (two in particular)!

LOST Still Doing Fine

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but yes, I am a Lost viewer. I wasn't until the fall, and hearing so much about it I decided to check into what all the hubbub was about. I got a hold of the first two seasons and managed to go through them in about two weeks (that was like 30 hours worth), and I was quickly addicted.

The interesting thing about Lost is that nobody's fully informed about anything. Normally, a writer will either write directly from the main character perspective (where others know what is going on, but we learn along with the character), or from the 3rd person perspective (where we know what's going on, waiting for the main character to catch up). However, on Lost, we get a strange mix. Not only do we know some things that the characters do not and learn many things along with the characters, but the characters also have these backstories that influence their actions that we only get glimpses of from time to time. It makes for an interesting dynamic, but with a large cast of main characters it can get a bit confusing or disjointed.

However, most of the time Lost manages to stay on course. Despite many of the recent criticisms of the show by people who are growing impatient for answers, I am growing excited about the future of the show. The answers to the show's mysteries isn't the important part, but it's how they come together. When Lost does finish up in the next few years, it's going to be BIG, and I'm excited about that.

Things are going to get good!

Race Scheduling Conflict

Last night, my wife was busy with homework early in the evening, so we decided to let the DVR pick up the debut of “The Amazing Race: All-Stars” for us at 8pm. A few hours later, we decided to watch it when she was done with her work, and what did we get when we pressed play? The second half of “60 Minutes”, and then the first half of “The Amazing Race”. Boy, were we miffed.

Now, this was more common practice in the fall when NFL games would run long and push all the evening programming back, but last I checked, the Super Bowl was played two weeks ago. Now, seing as mid-Febuary is a dead season for sports and CBS has been advertising this premier since the final episode of the 10th race that concluded in early December, you’d think that they’d try to stick firmly to the 8pm advertised time. However, it appears that the afternoon’s golf match (the ever popular Nissan Open ) ran long, but still should have completed well before the start of “60 Minutes”.

Honestly, I haven’t seen a popular show toyed around this much sind Fox and Matt Groening butted heads over “Futurama”. Way to blow it CBS!

Best Top Gear Ever!

Well, one of my guilty pleasures is watching fragments of the BBC car show Top Gear on YouTube. Sometimes they’re informative, and sometimes they’re doing things that are just off-the-wall. Regardless, they’re almost always an entertaining watch.

In this episode, the guys went “caravaning”…maybe better known in the US as “camping with a camper”, and in their attempt to show how bad of an idea (they’re a little biased against it as “vacationing”) it was, and almost everything goes very wrong. It’s a little long (about 30 mins in all), but it’s well worth the watch!

Update: Unfortunately, it looks like the videos have been pulled from YouTube for copyright reasons.

TV's Nielsen Problem

I'm officially growing sick of "This Week's Top TV Shows" Reports, and the dependence upon which the television industry places upon them (for advertising purposes, which then influences program decision making). While the Nielsen ratings are often taken as de Facto proof, they are, in fact, a very loose approximation of the viewing population.

According to Nielsen Media Research, they pull from a representative population:

"Our samples include homes from all 50 states, from cities to towns, from suburbs to rural areas. We have homeowners and apartment dwellers — some with children and some without — across a broad range of demographic categories. We include people of all ages, income groups, geographic areas, ethnicities and educational levels — all in proportion to their presence in the population at large."

While this will give you a nice demographic of the population in general, it leaves out a major criteria in TV viewing: viewing patterns. For example, I am a sports nut, and am more likely to watch a random sporting event than I am a half-hour sitcom. However, there are people who wouldn't watch sports if they could help it. If one type of person is selected over the other, it will skew the accuracy of the results.

Now, lets take that example and expound upon it. Let's take 20 people who all fall into the same demographic category and group them by their viewing habits:

  • 2 who prefer historical content
  • 5 who prefer sports and competitions
  • 6 who prefer comedies and sitcoms
  • 7 who prefer various types of dramas

Let's assume that Nielsen Media Research uses a 10% sample to calculate their viewer approximations. Regardless of who is chosen to be in the sample, the results will be skewed to different degrees (for example, if both history buffs are chosen to be in the sample, the viewer approximations for the larger group will be very inaccurate in comparison to actual viewership).

Even as the general population is increases and the likelihood of a more representative sample group increases, there is no guarantee that every viewing habit will be accurately represented. This is the inherent flaw in the system.

It might also be why "Dancing With The Stars" always has such high ratings, but the only person I know who watches it is my mother.

With the advances in television communications technology, they may soon be able to collect more data to give more realistic approximations, but until that happens, or Nielsen works to get better representations of the population, we're stuck with a flawed system of approximations.

So the next time your favorite TV show gets canceled, look to Nielsen. Their methods may have been the inadvertent cause of the cancellation.

Get In Gear

Recently I've caught on to the BBC car show, Top Gear. I wouldn't call myself a car buff, but this is easily the best car show I've ever watched. Along with serious reviews of performance cars, they also have crazy contests and other events such as:

  • Creating and racing "amphibious" cars they each made in about a day.
  • Racing a car vs. a plane/ferry/speedboat from London to Oslo, Norway.
  • Trying to figure out why people like to go on vacations in campers (or caravans in the UK) and accidentally burning it to the ground.
  • Launching cars at a target in a game of "darts".

The three hosts (James May, Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson) are very frank and simply hillarious. They play very well off each other, but each show comes across as a group of guys just having fun playing with the toys that they love. Gotta love that!

You can check out some clips from Top Gear at their website, or you can check some out at YouTube. And if you like it as much as I do, then please put in a request at BBC America to get the show on here in the US as well!

Edit: Here's another hillarious episode from the Top Gear guys.

OLN: Outdoor Life Network…Right?

I caught a little bit of the Tour de France on OLN today during my lunch bread, and what do I see but a self-advertisement promoting their 8-ball Billiards finale on Sunday. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember that most people play billiards indoors. Oh well, I can forgive them just this once…

And them moments later they air another self-promo for their fall lineup, which includes NHL hockey and it looked like Arena Football, both which are played indoors as well. Am I the only one who sees a problem with this.

If you're going to have a niche TV network, lets stick to that niche, or change the name of the network. Maybe they could just change it to OSN (The Other Sports Network). Then they could try to compete with ESPN for the weird sports shows, like VIKING: The Ultimate Obstacle Course, competitive eating contests, professional mini golf tournaments, and eventually the bumper pool national championships.

Hey, at worst it would be mildly amusing. And that's more than I can say for OLN right now.

Until Next Year, Jack Bauer

So, last night I got to catch up on the end of the season of my favorite show on TV, 24. I’ve been recording it on the DVR so I can watch an intense 40 minutes instead of a commercial ridden hour for each episode. What an ending this past season had, even after the season had forced so much change. Let’s check the checklist:

  • President Logan goes down for the atrocities he had committed in giving terrorists access to deadly nerve gas. Check!
  • Christopher Henderson gets the undignified death he deserved for his “patriotism”. Check!
  • Secret Service Agent Aaron Pierce stands up for the truth, and survives the terrible ordeal. Check!
  • Chloe comes through for Jack again (Check!), but she’s starting to give up almost as he is now.
  • Jack, at the end of a long day persuing the best interests of the nation, get reunited with his love, Audrey Raines, and then gets promptly dragged away by the Chinese and the season ends with him getting beaten on a ship to China. WHAT?!
  • The secret organization ordering President Logan around, headed by Dr. Romano, former doctor in the ER at County General in Chicago (who seems to have remarkably recovered his severed limb)…no, wait…in this show his name is Graham, goes completely untouched and unexplored. WHAT?! Who are they and what do they do?

Ok, so they’ve got me itching for next season (numero six) already, and I’m going to have to wait until January for that. Great! I guess I’m going to have to just get my copies of the last several seasons and watch them to tide me over. Only seven and a half months to go!