Sunday, April 22, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
It seems like some shows will be on tv forever. What is a weekday morning without The Price is Right? Or a weekend without Unwrapped on the Food Network? Or a workday evening without Cash Cab?
Oh, wait. I guess we're going to find out with that last one.
In what I can only describe as a total TRAVESTY, the Discovery Channel has given the Cash Cab the axe.
The show first premiered in December 2005 and has been an early evening staple since. It's the perfect show to "check in" on, as the format for viewing never changed.
Step 1: Watch people get in the cab.
Step 2: Make fun of the people in the cab.
Step 3: Watch people struggle to answer general knowledge trivia questions OR be blown away by how much useless knowledge some people have.
Step 4: Flip back to the show you were actually watching now that the commercial break is over.
The Master of Ceremonies, former Secret Boyfriend of the Week, Ben Bailey, kept things light and funny, and demonstrated his insane talent for multi-tasking. In fact, the only time the Cash Cab was involved in an accident, Bailey wasn't even behind the wheel. Apparently, some producer was driving the cab to the garage after filming when a pedestrian was struck and killed. IN CANADA. Yeah, it wasn't even the American version of the show!
The US Cash Cab actually has a really impressive safety record, especially if you consider how Metro bus drivers can't help but mow down at least one pedestrian a day. And that's when they are only trying to drive and text at the same time. Ben Bailey is driving, running a game show, getting questions from the producers AND feeding them to the contestants. Impressive, no?
But, alas. All good things must come to an end.
Oh, and don't worry about Ben Bailey. He got a new gig hosting a new NBC game show called Who's Still Standing as of December of last year. Meh.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
This past week I traveled to Los Angeles to spend some time with my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew, James, who is approximately 18 weeks old. My brother and SIL have always been big tv fans (shocker!), but since having a baby let's just say that their ability to sit down and watch a full program is somewhat....well, nonexistent. The baby is fussing, the baby needs to be changed, fed, rocked, entertained, or a myriad of other things that begin with "the baby needs..."
And that's they way things go. Once you procreate and become the caretaker for another (presumably) human life, your priorities tend to change. Making sure you keep up with the latest episode of True Blood quickly falls to the bottom of your to do list. But after observing my family's tv-watching habits over some weeks, I think I can confidently give you a helpful list to prepare you for How to Watch TV With An Infant.
Because the one you thing you need in your life is baby tips from someone with no baby. Am I right?
1. A DVR or TVIO is an absolute must. Babies are not concerned with any fixed schedule and you will certainly not be able to sit down and watch a show live. Set a season pass and get back to pumping that breast milk.
2. The more brainless the show, the better. By the time 4 in the morning rolls around and you are on your third feeding of the night, you're not going to watch keep track of who is who on The Wire, the latest international crisis on The West Wing, or who is sleeping with who on Grey's Anatomy. You are going to turn to the favorite shows of every new mother: reality shows on Bravo like The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. No brain cells required. By the way, for men this slot would probably be filled by late night ESPN or CNN. My research indicates that it is just as brainless.
3. Things with bright colors, music, and lots of movement are your friend. So if you were thinking of giving up on Glee I suggest you stick with it. Babies won't care about the inconsistent plots or characterization; they'll just give the crying a break when Kurt dances around in a colorful outfit and sings like a girl.
4. Make sure your tv, DVDs, streaming movies, etc. have closed captions. This is a necessity, especially when you can't keeo the volume up for fear of waking the child who just FINALLY fell asleep after you spent the last hour walking around the house bouncing them and going "shhh shhh" in their ear.
5. Don't expect to get any more than 1 hour of tv-watching in per day. Sure the kid will go down around 8:00 at night, but you are going to be so exhausted you won't make it more than halfway through Game of Thrones. Also, trying to keep all those kings straight? Not gonna happen. I mean, I have trouble and have no kids or social life to speak of. What chance does a new parent have?
Hopefully this little list will help prepare you for the reality of child rearing. Sure, there's other stuff you are supposed to do like making sure you child develops synaptic connections, social skills, and a basic ability to survive, but come on. We all know TV is the most important.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar, master of all four elements could stop them. But, when the world needed him most, he vanished...
And so begins one of the greatest tv adventures ever, Avatar: The Last Airbender.
There's lots of love for this show (I hesitate to refer to it as a cartoon because that instantly makes some people dismissive) here on the blog. Just check out these glowing reviews from Monkey Sri and myself. I can't think of a program that has created such a rich and diverse world blending action, magic, humor, and drama. And by drama I don't mean the typical bullshit that passes for plot these days (my evil twin sister I thought was dead returns with a plan for vengeance!) I mean characters that you genuinely care about and think of as friends fighting to save the world, but also fighting to find their place in the world and among each other.
It was a magnificent three seasons, but then the adventure was over and Last Airbender fans were left sitting alone in the dark with nothing but their DVDs, reruns, and horrible movie adaptation to comfort them.
But wait! What is that I see peeking over the horizon? Is it? Could it be....?
Welcome to The Legend of Korra, folks! It's been 70 years since Avatar Aang and his pals saved the world from Fire Lord Ozai, and there's a new avatar trying to keep the balance. The new Avatar, Korra, is from the Southern Water Tribe and travels to Republic City to learn airbending from Tenzin, the youngest child of Aang and Katara. Apparently Republic City was founded by Aang and Zuko as a place where people of all nations (and all benders) could live together in peace and harmony.
Republic City is everything that Avatar Aang and Fire Lord Zuko fought for when they ended the Hundred Year War. With balance restored to the four nations, benders and non-benders can live together in peace, in this thriving metropolitan area. But even the steampunk paradise of Republic City has its problems, as the next Avatar discovers. When Avatar Korra arrives in Republic City to master her airbending, she comes face to face with criminal bending gangs as well as members of a vocal anti-bending revolution.Woah, wait a minute. Steampunk? Anti-bending revolution? AWESOME.
Nickelodeon has kindly made the first two episodes available online, but the series begins this Saturday, April 14. You might want to check your local listings, since the website says it airs at 11, but my cable shows it at 2:00 in the afternoon.
You should also be able to watch Korra without seeing The Last Airbender. But if you haven't, I suggest you trot on over to Neftflix streaming and take a look. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Glee, if you keep giving me adorable gay men, I won't leave. You're only encouraging me, and I'll never learn to get by on my own. But, I'm OK with that.
Last episode ended with a cliffhanger - on her way to Rachel and Finn's wedding (yawn), Quinn ran a stop sign and got into a car crash. This episode, we find her in a wheelchair, but she keeps a optimistic outlook and promises to be up and dancing for Nationals. Predictably, Rachel tries to make the situation all about her, but eventually stops talking. THANK GOD. Artie teaches Quinn wheelchair tricks, and bonding happens - hooray! But he also suggests that she might be in denial. What if she doesn't walk again... dun dun DUN!
The rest of the episode was Blaine-centric, which you know I love. Blaine is tired of living in the shadow of his big brother, Cooper (OMG Matt Bomer). The only solution - confront him through song! Duh. Blaine and Cooper do a kick-ass Duran Duran mash up, then a cover of Gotye's Somebody That I Used To Know. Sock Monkey, my squee-cap companion, and I just had to get up and dance.
And I guess we continued on the Rachel/Finn storyline, as well... they didn't end up getting married, because it seems that the news of Quinn's car accident reached them four or five seconds after the fact, and it stopped the wedding. Now we're back to the will-they-won't-they-make-it uncertainty of the last story arc. Joy.
Finn: "I just need you to be really sure that you're in love with me, not who you want me to be!"
Me: What does that even...? Oh, who the hell cares.
Evidently there's an entire universe of this stuff floating out there online. I'm tempted to offer this as possibly an updated (and less squicky) version of Rule 34: if it exists, there is a My Little Ponies/Game of Thrones mashup of it.
Thursday, April 05, 2012
CLOVIS: Have you seen the cartoon that mocks the Game of Thrones scene where Daenerys eats a horse’s heart by combining it with My Little Pony?
MONKEY SRI: You are a horrible, heartless human being and I’m ashamed to be seen in public with you.
CLOVIS: …So, is that a no?
That may not have been a literal translation, but I assure you the subtext is accurate. By way of context, it’s fair to mention that Monkey Sri is a big fan of My Little Pony whereas I am, well, not. For my turn, while I wouldn’t describe myself as a huge fan of Game of Thrones, I have really enjoyed watching it and find it to be pretty close to the exact kind of television I enjoy watching whereas Monkey Sri may have a different perspective on the show. The point being that we were both approaching this horrific image from opposite sides of the appreciation gap and I think I bridged it a bit further than she did.
Laugh with me, fellow heartless humans!
But Monkey Sri’s distaste (Disgust? Revulsion? Abhorrence? Sri, please weigh in on how accurate or inaccurate my read on this is in the comments) got me thinking about a bigger issue. Shows have to put forth a lot of conscious effort to “manage the brand” of what they are. It’s the reason why some shows have product tie-ins and others don’t. It’s also at least part of the reason why producers are so careful to manage the promotional materials for their show so that the look and feel of it doesn’t get too altered. On the other hand, removing characters and putting them in new context can bring you attention you didn’t have before and it can allow you to appeal to viewers who may not have originally thought to give your show a chance. So with all those arguments, are television mashups like the one above a good or a bad?
Different from a crossover, where characters from two different properties interact in the same story for whatever reason, mashups involve purposefully putting characters in situations they wouldn’t, shouldn’t or couldn’t exist in. Basically imagine a Saturday Night Live sketch, only done by the actual show creators and not necessarily to exploit a funny pretense that will quickly get old after 30 seconds.
And to think, I once believed I couldn't find Tim Tebow any more boring than he already was.
Personally, I enjoy mashups. I like considering how my favorite characters would behave in utterly different circumstances. My favorite episode of The Simpsons remains the one from the late 90s where Mulder and Scully, voiced by their live action counterparts, came to Springfield to investigate Homer’s claim that he saw an alien. Likewise, anyone of a certain age will likely remember watching old Scooby-doo cartoons and how exciting it was when our teenage crime solvers got to occasionally run into someone from a different world, such as the Harlem Globetrotters, The Mamas & The Papas or even Batman and Robin.
Unfortunately, mashups can also really damage the television property. Mashups done right give us humor or a new understanding of the characters. Mashups done wrong just feel painful. For every enjoyable Star Wars Muppet Show there’s always a Star Wars Holiday Special.
So what do you think? Do you want to see your favorite characters and places put into different contexts or do you feel like that harms the story that you are trying to enjoy?