Category Archives: TV

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 Undecided) 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. Frown

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: <em>Outdoor</em> 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 theJack Bauer from 24 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!

Busy Few Days

Boy, it seems like it's been a busy few days. Let's recap, shall we?

  • Work – Work has been crazy the last week as I've been learning our old system in order to add a new client. It's the same reason I spent Saturday working, and it's just drained me a bit. Haven't been too motivated to hit up the computer and accomplish much more than checking my e-mail.
  • 24 – Still easily my favorite show on TV today, and this season is heading for an all-out finish over the next 3 hours. The president's up to no good, but the only evidence they had to implicate him was seemingly just destroyed. Miles Papazian would have secured his place in hell if he wasn't just a TV show character.
  • The Amazing Race – Another great show, and about the only CBS ("America's #1 Network", somehow) show I watch. Was very relieved to see JoMo (my pet name for the MoJo couple that seems to have everything backwards) relieved of the stress of the race. I'm not sure how Joseph can stand the constant whining sounds coming from Monica, but he doesn't seem too bright himself. Well, that was the end of teams I really disliked (after Lake got tossed a few weeks ago and the whiney homosexuals got bounced in the first leg of the race). BJ and Tyler rebounded again and hopped into first, which Marci and I were both relieved to see. It should be an interesting race to the finish as it looks like they'll hit up both Japan and the frozen tundra of North America.
  • PS3 and Wii – A lot of gaming announcements going on this week with E3 going on, but it's really interesting. The more I hear from both Sony and Nintendo, the more I'm convinced that Microsoft made a huge mistake by rushing out the Xbox 360 last fall. That console has turned out to be little more than Xbox+, just an Xbox with better graphics. Meanwhile, Sony is building a killer system that will wow most hard-core gamers (even though it comes at a hefty price of $600, the technology it's using is worth much more than that) and Nintendo is breaking the mold with the Wii and it's potential revolutionary controller as they target current non-gamers and try to get them involved in the fun. This will be a very interesting development in the video game world, as Microsoft stares down the same road that Sega took years ago.

At least that's the interesting stuff I can think of right now. I'll check y'all later!

Celebrity Cooking Craptacular

Welcome to the latest lousy idea from TV execs! This weeks Celebrity CookingIron Skillet Showdown has started, and after one episode, it has ended for me. With another washed-up actor as host (this time Growing Pains' Alan Thicke, who I also loved in the Not Quite Human movies, but he hasn't done anything significant in years), a collection of C-list "celebrities", great chefs with little personality, and some garbled format, it was just terrible and almost painful to watch.

Let's see where they went wrong exactly:

  • The biggest celebrity on the show is probably Tom Arnold, who is best know as Roseanne's ex-husband.
  • Any show with Ashley Parker Angel is doomed to fail.
  • While obviously taking inspiration from the success of Iron Chef, they removed all the elements that make Iron Chef great. Instead of giving them a theme ingredient, they were already given recipes. There's not much intrigue when I know what they're making.
  • The tag-teaming with the great chefs is just rediculous, and really takes away from the "celebrity cooking" aspect.
  • Don't hide ingredients from chefs.
  • Don't force female contestants to wear high heels in the kitchen. It's terribly impractical.
  • I'm pretty sure they just pulled the judges off of the street.
  • Ah, constant drama music…without thee I would have my sanity.
  • Don't go telling the television audience that you are having a live 50-minute cookoff that starts at 9:09pm and ends at 9:49pm. I can do math, and I know that means you're not live.

My advice is to avoid this show at all costs. I belive the principal in Billy Madison put it best:

At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.