And for those of us born in the Old Country, V was never a drink, it was that awful TV series about alien invaders.

It wasn’t that bad I suppose… Great premise, just so very earnest and well, American.

Now they’re remaking it.

If you’ve ever wondered why journalists aren’t paid enough, this clip shows off the power balance of modern PR versus Media quite nicely I think. The expectation is that you’ll write/produce fluff and that that’s what the readers/watchers want. It’s not, which is why laying off journalists and reducing the already pitiful amount freelancers are paid is not going to work as a cost-saving measure.

Bonus points if you can tell me who that is and why they’ll never take the skies from me.

Serious post now.

My children have begun playing video games on the computer. Currently, this is the source of some friction in my house as the main PC has died a death, meaning we have TWO children fighting (literally at times) over ONE laptop.

The laptop is old and antiquated so they can’t do much with it (the clockwork handle can be something of a chore when you’re not yet four) but they do like to play games and here’s where my problem arises.

The noise alone is driving me nuts. I mean, seriously, who wants to listen to Beethoven or Brahms or worse still, Bach. Darn you, Little Einsteins (TM) website with your Learning and your Education.

And then there’s Winnie the Goddamed Pooh. That’s right, the yeller feller himself, who insists on them learning the alphabet and how to count. My god, who are these people and why are they interfering in my life? I’ve got a three year old who can count to 13 unaided. What do they think will happen when my turbo-charged brat arrives at school, eh? The teachers will go berserk!

It’s no better with the older one, who is six, who now knows how to formulate an argument and to hold her own in a debate, much to her mother’s “delight”. Oh yeah, she’s also discovered air quotes so she’ll say things like ‘Dad, it’s time for you to make a “decision”.’ which is closer to the truth than I’m comfortable with. Today she has decided to become a ‘TV “reporter”, which actually makes my old print reporter’s heart glad.

No, I’m afraid it’s time to take a stand. Children should be seen and not heard. Won’t someone think of the damage they’re inflicting by educating my children before they start to corrupt young minds with all this learning. And what about the TV producers? My two won’t sit still for something facile and banal and if television can’t do pointless, mindless garbage, where will we be?

Reviews you can use

November 27, 2007

Here’s an interesting site packed full of reviews of TV-series House as conducted by a US doctor. The reviews rate medical content, mystery, soap opera and he seems to really like the show.

It’s nice to see a review written by someone who actually enjoys TV. All too often (Diana Wichtel and Fiona Rae notwithstanding) reviews seem to be written by would be playwrites or similarly dysfunctional show ponies who don’t watch TV at all. What’s the point?

Television does the internet

November 18, 2007

I’ve long been an advocate for distributing TV over the internet. There are those that say there’s already a perfectly good medium for TV, it’s called “television”, and there’s no need to bother with this pesky new medium.

They’re morons and we should not bother ourselves with them any longer.

OK, that’s a bit harsh. What they’re talking about (as far as I can tell) is that watching TV on a computer is not a good experience and I’ll agree to that. They also seem to be people who, for the most part, don’t actually watch TV so they don’t see the point to downloading TV shows online.

That’s cool – it would be boring if we were all the same. But I do like TV. I spend a lot of time with my TV and I don’t like watching TV on my computer (small screen, annoying chair) either. So I don’t. I burn it to disk/download it to a thumbdrive/ wireless connect it to the back of my big screen plasma TV (well, I would if I had one).

The point about TV on the internet is not that I can watch it on a poky screen, it’s that I can watch any episode of any given TV show whenever I fell like it, rather than waiting for a TV network I can pick up to air it. With ads. And with edits. When it suits them. Y’know, later.

Case in point, TVNZ‘s decision to break The Sopranos with four episodes of the penultimate series left to screen. Why? Who cares. I don’t, and I wasn’t alone in being outraged by this. So I voted with my mouse and watched them online.

A word about watching TV online – it used to be tricky with all those P2P file sharing apps to download and torrents to seed and so on. Not any more. First, who can be bothered and second, the ISPs are all busy blocking/shaping/throttling the ports that P2P run on.

Joox, on the other hand, does not use different software. It’s a highly illegal website that simply points visitors to illegally downloaded TV and movies. This is bad.

It’s also good, because it means I can simply stream the show I want, save it as a DIVX file and watch it with any free DIVX player I like. Because it’s just a website, it transmits data back and forth over the usual ports so suspicious ISPs can’t do much about it.

I have downloaded and watched the latest series of Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica, and will no doubt get the new Bionic Woman (just for old time’s sake), Life on Mars series two (why wait) as well as The Professionals and The Sweeney (I was too young to watch it first time round). I’d do the same with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series if I could find it and, here’s the catch, I’d pay for it as well because frankly I think all these shows are worth watching and keeping and I can’t be arsed waiting for TVNZ or Prime or TV3 to get its act together, realise the AC Neilsen set-top box system of ratings for viewership numbers is fatally flawed and start branching out beyond games shows/cooking shows/reality shows/”blockbuster movies” we all saw years ago and the news.

Today I see this story in the New York Times and thought, “Almost, but no. Still getting it wrong.”

I don’t want to watch a show in eight minute segments on my PC via MySpace. I want to watch a full-length episode delivered to me by whatever means I want and watched from my over-stuffed recliner in the lounge.

Instead, I think the internet approach will work well for two extremes – shows like Top Gear which have a worldwide following and shows like Firefly which didn’t gel with the network.

Top Gear has around half a billion viewers worldwide. If everyone one paid a dollar an episode … well, let’s just say Clarkson could buy the Isle of Man and possible the Isle of Dogs as well and turn them both into his own personal race tracks.

Top Gear is an established brand that would not only survive but, I think, flourish in an online-only world.

The other end of the spectrum is Firefly, the show that Fox (bastards) cancelled after half a series because they didn’t get it. Joss Whedon went on to make a movie instead of season two but frankly I’d rather he’d gone online and made the shows to air via the ether. I’d have paid, and so would enough people (I believe) to have made it worthwhile. I’d even have bought the DVDs as well, because there’s something visceral about holding an entire series in your hands.

So, early days yet, but one thing’s for sure: the network’s hold over the viewer has gone the way of the dinosaur (much like the video shop). However, just like the dinosaur (and the video shop) network TV stumbles on, convinced it’s still alive and vital and completely oblivious to the fact that its head has been cut off.


November 9, 2007

So my company (well, it’s not mine but I work here) has received emails from a group of concerned citizens outraged that we advertised during last night’s inaugural episode of Californication (here in New Zealand that is).

Californication is, as far as I can tell, trying very hard to be outrageous. You can tell, because the title includes the world “fornicat” if that can be said to be a word.

I’m quite happy with lobby groups lobbying. It’s what they do. I don’t mind if they call the TV station and the advertisers and say “I don’t like this”. It’s a free country, they can engage in free speech.

What I don’t understand is what they hope to achieve by this. The group wants the companies that advertise to stop supporting the show so the network pulls it.

Now, given that networks base their decisions on ratings, and advertisers base their decisions on ratings, and that the lobby groups are, in fact, driving traffic TO the show by jumping up and down and making such a fuss about it, WTF are they thinking?

If I was to advise said lobby group I’d say you pick a show that you do want aired and make damn sure (sorry, darn sure) that everyone you know watches that. That way the network orders a second season and everyone’s happy.

By drawing attention to a show you don’t want to get attention you really do shoot your plan in the foot.

Come to think of it, you can apply the same logic to the behaviour of just about anyone. Children/colleagues/employers/employees/family/friends. If you want them to do something again, be positive about it. If you want them to stop, ignore the bad behaviour.

By golly, I might just be onto something.