Archive for the ‘Television’ Category

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Thoughts on TV

October 4, 2008

I’ve been ‘channel surfing’ via iTunes and the freebie streaming video services online. Basically, the rest of the world has caught up with me. I haven’t had cable for years, and now that shows are increasingly freely, legally available via streaming services I’m catching up on a few old favorites and new hotnesses. I have a few thoughts on recent and new (to me) television shows.

My Name is Earl

This show, for a while, suffered from the same problem I have with Monk: a ‘writers hating the characters’ problem. I’m now at the point with Monk where I can’t even watch that show anymore. It’s completely obvious that the writers have zero respect for the characters. They’re just shells to move around in a con game, false fronts to put in the latest ‘wacky situation of the week’. My Name is Earl, on the other hand, has apparently blossomed into a great character-driven show. The end of last season saw an extended plot element (Earl’s short-term wife) that really allowed the actors, writers, and director to breathe new life into what kind of started out like a one-trick show.

It’s been some time since I watched Earl, and it’s great to see it going strong into its … fifth season. Wow. Long time.

Burn Notice

Brian turned me on to this, and it’s fantastic. I highly recommend this to anyone that likes shows that treat you like an adult. It has adult situations without simpering swearing or needless sexuality. The ads all make it look like this sex-heavy show set in Miami, and it really isn’t. It’s primarily a character and story-driven show that lets things happen in much the way they would in real life. It’s really, really good.

Numb3rs

The first episode back in the new season was yesterday and I’m not very impressed. They left off on a huge cliffhanger; “To Be Continued” as the Epps’ father put it. The pickup was decidedly lackluster. There’s little done about Charlie’s security status, and while there is a new member on the team to replace Megan Reeves she had so little screentime as to be faceless.

30 Rock

I watched a few random episodes of this show and came away impressed with Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin, and not much else. Good writing but not-so-hot supporting acting. I bet if I’d been following it more I’d enjoy it more, but as of right now not so much.

Clone Wars

I definitely agree with io9’s assessment of the first episode of Clone Wars. The show succeeds in many ways that the movie fails. Tighter action, less dialogue, more straightforward situations. I dunno why iTunes makes the awesomeness better, but I actually get to watch two episodes plus the free preview right away. Maybe it’s for signing up with the Season Pass?

In any case, I’m really looking forward to more of this show. It’s popcorn/bubble gum compared to what it could (should) be, but for all that there’s a distinct likeableness to what they’re offering. If you’re still someone that can deal with what Lucas has done to Star Wars, this is some of the better canon stuff they’ve done in the last few years.

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We All Use Math Everyday

May 16, 2008

While Katie and I don’t have cable, I use iTunes to keep abreast of a handful of television shows. Tony Bourdain’s No Reservations, Mike Rowe’s Dirty Jobs, and the CBS drama Numb3rs all fall into this category. I’ve been hitting the Numb3rs pretty hard recently, which may be slightly surprising if you recall my (now ancient) post railing against the show for geek stereotyping.

A lot can happen in two years, and has. The show’s writing has gotten much, much better. It’s no longer the zany “an FBI agent and his math prof brother solves crime!” Now, the show is mostly about character interaction and ongoing plot threads. None of these threads are story-centric, they’re all character-centric. Ameda’s family, Charlie’s book deal, Larry’s ongoing search for peace and tranquility, and Don’s love life – they’re all threads that bind a pretty darn good show together.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Chasing Your Shadow East

October 27, 2006

My latest Netflixing is the Bravo Documentary ‘Long Way Round’, which I’d watched originally when it aired. It was odd … they only aired it once straight through, and were quite stingy about reruns. Which is insane, because it’s one of the few ‘reality’ programs I’ve ever really truly enjoyed. I think it’s because the show has a focus. It’s not just a bunch of idiots bouncing around inside a ‘concept’. The show consists of footage shot while actors Ewan McGregor and Charlie Borman made their way around the world on motorbikes. It’s a great travel story, it’s a tale of logistics, and it has some wonderful human elements tied to it as well. Great stuff.

Because they’re heading directly east for essentially the entire trip, the subtitle for the show is ‘Chasing Shadows Around the World’. A great metaphor, I think. We’re on a sphere hurtling through a void, whipping around a burning mass of energy and matter, and we’re just kind of along for the ride. Considering my physical size, sometimes I think it’s fun to feel small. It doesn’t take much to feel small if you think on a galactic scale.

I stayed up all night last night, for the first time in I can’t even remember. It was not by choice, I can assure you, and I still didn’t get everything I wanted to accomplished. The big goal I had was fulfilled, thankfully. Another Escapist article more or less in the bag. Good times. Tomorrow is the annual Halloween party, so there will be deviled eggs and booze. Sunday we have game, and I’m going to give it a go in trying to preorder a Wii. Soo, on balance, it’s probably good that my internal clock is already off.

I’d say I’m looking forward to getting into next week, but November is going to be really hard. Really hard. No way through it but to do it, eh?

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Housewives, Star Trek, Raging Dragons

October 10, 2006

On a d20 –
(I’m going to dispense with the ‘You’ in these things, because it’s really hard to remember to do.)

1-3: Television. We finished watching the second season of Lost the week before last, just in time for the Third season to begin. The verdict from the interweb nerdbase seems to be that it wasn’t that great a starter for the third go around. Katie and I, though, just loved it. An entire season about The Others is going to be just kickass. It’s awesome to have the whole story so far, and still be really enthused by it. When we started Season 2 we were a little dubious; things took a bit to get going. Just the same, and while I don’t think it was as good as the first glorious season, totally enjoyable. I can’t believe this is network television.

Katie finally convinced me that I should watch Desperate Housewives with her. I’m still waiting for the part where I actually start liking the show. I like certain characters, to be sure. Lynette and Susan are eminently likeable, and Bree is a
special lady in her own very very screwed up way. Just don’t like Gabrielle, though. I don’t really think marital infidelity is all that funny or charming.

4-7: Abby and Joe threw two parties in the last month! I had my camera at Abby’s Birthday Bash, and Terra’s Going Away Party. Sets are up, and I’m working to get everything captioned. Normally I would have waited until I finished captioning everything else before uploading new stuff, but there were requests they go up sooner rather than later. :)

8-10: Games. It’s amazing, but the games editor has actually been … playing … games again. It’s tremendous! Innovative, even! I had a blast with Okami, Yakuza, and Lego Star Wars II these past few weeks. I really feel like I have my feet back under me as regards writing. The new focus I’ve been enjoying has done wonders for my productivity. I’ve even had a long chat with Grodin, we’ve let bygones be bygones, and I’ve been playing him with some regularity. He’s (finally) attuned for MC, and I’m working on his Onyxia key. One really stupid game I’ve been perversely enjoying of late is Star Trek Encounters. It’s really not all that great, but it’s campy fun just the same. So nice to be playing again.

11-15: Thanks to some old book sales, I have things other than periodicals and RPG supplements on my reading list. I’m going to be working through some crappy fantasy stuff (like ‘The Rage’ in the realms), and I’m going to try to crack a long alternate history series I’ve started and stopped a few times now. The alternate history of the United States starts with ‘How Few Remain’, a book wherein the South wins the civil war. Series author Harry Turtledove then walks us through a series of books going through World War I, World War II, and the aftermaths. They’re not the most upbeat of books, but very interesting.

16-18: While I don’t think I’m going to top the 44 comments on Resurrection Everquest, I’ve had some writing luck with my last two pieces for GameSetWatch. Well, personal writing luck anyway, I was kind of hoping for more of a reaction to my outlandish claims about Virtual Worlds, but grandstanding doesn’t get you very far nowadays. Oh well. I actually really liked writing, though, about the upcoming super hero MMOG battle, and I think that piece turned out rather well. I’m really enjoying writing them, and I hope I can keep it up as the holiday gaming season heats up.

19-20: On that note, I’m apparently going to be able to preorder a Wii and Zelda starting next Monday. I’m going the uber-cheapo route, and just buying the console, the game, and an extra wiimote and chuck. I’ll get most of the fun release games via GameFly, I’m hoping. I will probably get one of the minigame games too … Rayman looks like fun. Mostly, though, I’m holding out on purchases for stuff like Wario Ware, Mario, and Metroid. Ahh, Mario.

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Lost in Northern Exposure

September 9, 2006

This has been, seriously, the most relaxing two weeks or so. There were no games released that I really wanted to check out, and game news was almost non-existant. As such, while I wasn’t offline per se I’ve been doing many offline activities lately.

Going through my old things from Mom’s, and cleaning out the storage locker, allowed me to stumble upon my tapes of Northern Exposure. I taped pretty much the entire series when it was being rerun on A&E, and for the past week or so I’ve been steadily chewing through it. I *love* the series, and it’s brought back a lot of fond memories by watching it.

Though we haven’t really gotten into it as much as we did the first season, Katie and I have also been catching up with the second season of Lost. We got the DVD set early this past week, and have only watched the first three episodes so far. I’m sure I’ll start to enjoy it more once we get going, but so far the show has only succeeded in making these characters singularly unlikeable. Which … is kind of annoying.

Aside from television, I’ve actually been doing a metric ton of reading. When I got back from Gen Con my stack of things to read began reaching dangerous heights. The only real delay working through the stack was the 640 pages of Ptolus. That took some time. I’m now almost done with the RPG books I picked up, and am about to dive into some fiction. Good times.

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Jon Stewert, My Hero

August 6, 2006

Flock has some stuff that hooks into YouTube; ways to make it easier to post and view videos on the service. I’m not planning on becoming much of a contributor, but it’s been interesting to see what the service has to offer besides ‘Bikini Car Wash’ and the like. I’ve found, for example, that a lot of great moments from the Daily Show are part of the YouTube zeitgeist. Jon’s interview on the O’Reilly Factor is there, for example, as is his coverage of the president’s interview on the Factor. I particularly enjoyed his interview with Bill Clinton (1 and 2). I’d seen all of those before, though, and it was mostly just a nice trip down memory lane to see them.

In searching around, I found something I hadn’t found before: Jon’s intro speech after 9/11/2001. It’s powerful, sometimes funny, and a great example of why (despite his protestations), the Daily Show is more than just another dick and fart joke show.

If you’re looking for the way to embed YouTube videos into your wordpress blog, you can find the info here.

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Hopelessly Lost

August 6, 2006

We just finished the first season of Lost. :(

Now WHAT? What happens to Walt? Where does the tunnel go? What about the Virgin Mary? I HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL SEPTEMBER FOR THE NEXT EPISODE !?!?

At least, thankfully, we’ll be caught up just in time to start watching the third season when it begins airing.
Sniffle. Polar Bears.