Category Archives: Television

A minor suspension-of-disbelief problem

There are two tv shows that have lasted much longer than I expected them to: The Walking Dead and Falling Skies.

They’re really the same story, with different window-dressing: the struggle for survival in the face of an inexplicable cataclysm. The cataclysm itself isn’t the point, but rather how the characters cope with it.

I have no trouble accepting a globe-spanning, civilization-ending catastrophe. (That sort of thing happens all the time in science fiction. A few authors have gone really big, and destroyed the entire universe.)

But the notion that a plucky band of survivors could sustain any kind of organized resistance is too much. War – against space aliens, against zombies – is as much an industrial effort as a military one, but there’s no industry without civilization.

Where are these plucky bands of survivors getting their weapons & ammunition? Their medicine? Their food? Scavenging is a short-term strategy, good for one season, maybe two. What happens after that?

Game of Thrones

Yesterday, Jennifer brought home from the library season one of Game of Thrones; we watched a few episodes last night (once the kids were – more or less – in bed).

I looked at the box cover and said, “This is HBO, right? So we should take bets on how long until the cute blonde has a nude scene.”

HBO did not disappoint – about fifteen minutes into the first episode, she was nekkid as a jaybird. It was nice to look at, but didn’t do much to advance the story. (I don’t suppose it was intended to.)

Terra Nova

Much chatter recently about Terra Nova, a new TV show. (No, I don’t know what channel it’s on, or even when it airs. TiVo takes care of all that.)

Jacob & Jennifer watched part one of the pilot the other day; this evening, we’re all watching part two. Impressions so far:

  • It’s post-Apocalypse, just like The Walking Dead and Falling Skies, only this time it’s an environmental disaster (and it’s all humanity’s fault).
  • Lots of walking through the jungle, just like Lost, only here it’s sometime in the Cretaceous.
  • A hidden & menacing colony of Others, just like Lost, only here they’re called Sixers.
  • Gung-ho military guy, just like Avatar. So far, he appears to be a good guy – but his missing-presumed-dead son is probably leader of the Sixers.
  • Scary monsters roaming around, causing trouble & killing the occasional guest star, just like The Walking Dead and Falling Skies, only here they’re dinosaurs.

It’s a big-budget, big-hype series, the kind that usually flames out within a season or two. Perhaps this time will be different.

Spin

A quote from the Comcast FAQ:

Why is Comcast offering CableCARDs?

Comcast is committed to supporting digital-cable-ready television sets and other devices, such as the TiVo Series 3 HD set-top box and the Microsoft Digital Cable Tuners. By offering CableCARD service, Comcast is able to provide you with more choice.

…by which I suspect they really mean:

Why is Comcast offering CableCARDs?

We would much prefer to screw our customers by charging exorbitant prices for shoddy equipment, while simultaneously locking out any third-party hardware, but the Telecommunications Act of 1996 prevents us from doing so.

We are grudgingly providing the required CableCARD service, but only until we can buy enough members of Congress to get the law changed.

Lost / 24

Lost and 24 are in their final few episodes.

The producers of 24 are already planning a movie – I read an interview (on CNN or somewhere) with Kiefer Sutherland, who said he’s looking forward to doing a movie because the whole real-time thing is just too constraining.

But that was the whole point of the series, wasn’t it?

The Lost people haven’t said anything about a movie. (Which is a bit of a relief, to be honest. I figure a two-hour Lost movie would contain ten minutes of answers, twenty minutes of gratuitous violence, and ninety minutes of walking through the jungle.)

Wouldn’t it be interesting if they combined forces? Jack Bauer vs. the smoke monster…I’d pay to see that….

Watching TV

Jennifer’s been watching 24 since the beginning; for the last few seasons I’ve been watching too.

I’ve been thinking that a show like 24 walks a very fine line. A single threat can’t carry the entire twenty-four episode season, so the occasional plot twist is essential. But too many plot twists leave the viewers – or, at least, this viewer – feeling a bit jerked around.

This season on 24: first it was nuclear fuel rods, then it was a dirty bomb made from the fuel rods, now the dirty bomb doesn’t matter any more and the MacGuffin is…what? Something else that won’t matter in three or four episodes, I suppose.

The Marriage Ref

Jennifer & I were watching the Winter Olympics closing ceremonies, when suddenly the announcer said, “We’ll be back in an hour with the rest of the closing ceremonies. And now, Jerry Seinfeld’s new show, The Marriage Ref.”

It’s not actually Seinfeld’s show; the host is somebody named Tom Papa. (Seinfeld is the producer.)

Apparently, the purpose behind The Marriage Ref is to put eccentric couples on national television so a panel of celebrities can ridicule them.

Putting this turkey on after the Olympics must have been the only way NBC could get anybody to watch it. I watched it – mostly because I was too lazy to get up & change the channel – and that’s a half-hour of my life I’ll never get back.

Ahem

Jon & Kate Gosselin are no longer entertainment.

They aren’t even news any more.

They’re a train wreck, from which the rest of us should avert our eyes & attention.

Watching TV

Watching Grey’s Anatomy with Jennifer:

"She looks familiar."
"She’s a famous actress."
"Looks like Faye Dunaway."
"She is Faye Dunaway."
"Well, that explains it."

I am old and unhip

Jennifer recorded the Rockefeller Center tree-lighting special on TiVo; we were watching it last night. No, Jennifer & the kids were watching it: I was – mostly – reading the newspaper.

At one point, I looked up and saw a young woman in ridiculously baggy pants – she looked like she was wearing a codpiece – butchering Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree: flat, tuneless delivery, with occasional interludes of calisthenics that were probably intended to be dancing.

"Who is that? I asked.

"That’s Miley Cyrus," Jennifer said.

"I thought she could sing," I said.

Jennifer tells me that the performances on this show were all faked: lip-syncing, unplugged guitars, etc., to a prerecorded soundtrack, because it’s impossible to get good sound playing outdoors at Rockefeller Center.

They didn’t get very good sound from Ms. Cyrus indoors, either.

(Are there any Rockefellers left, these days? And are any of them still involved with Rockefeller Center?)