Why the Xbox 360 instead of Sony's PS3? It includes a Blu-ray player. The Xbox 360 is outselling the PS3 domestically about 2 - 1.
For all I know Microsoft waved fat stacks of cash under Netflix's corporate nose for the exclusive. OK, whatever, that's what companies do. Please don't try to insult the intelligence of your audience by spinning it as a market share thing, or else you'd be on the Wii first.
I really have no use for NASCAR (I can actually say that out loud, now that I don't work for Roush anymore), but it does look really fantastic in high-def. The fast action really shows off the advantage of the progressive scan modes, and the cartoonishly painted cars look fantastic gleaming in the sunlight.
Will this be the way the iTMS handles both paid podcast subscriptions and TV season subscriptions? I noticed the new Daily Show downloads at the iTMS. I occasionally record the Daily Show and arduously edit and convert it for use on my iPod, and at about 63 cents an episode I'm happy to let someone else do the work.
The “Chronic…(WHAT?)…cles of Narnia” thing has been all over BoingBoing and YouTube and del.icio.us and digg and torrent sites and wherever else by now, of course, but I still need to give NBC kudos for formally acknowledging the idea of word-of-mouth marketing and posting this segment as a free download on the iTMS.
(Also worth noting — NBC/Universal posted a free “behind the scenes” thing for Battlestar Galactica at the same time.)
I found this one on a CDROM I found at a dollar store. They didn’t own the copyright either… Anyway, resizing it converting it to modern codecs reduced the filesize by over 90%, so here it is.
I'll refrain from spoilers, because I know that some people won't get to see these episodes until after the inevitable DVD release, but wow, I'm happy to see the Sopranos back at the top of its game. After a distinctly lackluster season 4, the last few episodes have been completely outstanding, worthy of the show's heyday (seasons 1 and 2.)
I loved the Quiznos ads they debuted during the Super Bowl. I didn't realize that they were done by the Joel Veitch, and it's based on one of his old bits. Looks like my favorite of them, with the kittens doing Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song", is no longer online, doubtlessly due to humorless lawyer people.
Compilation videos from Palm Pictures. The first three feature Spike Jonze, Chris Cunningham, and Michel Gondry. Cool.
Speaking of the BBC, for the next few days (probably until Saturday AM, UK time) there's an audio documentary on the great comedy Blackadder. Go listen before it turns into a pumpkin! (via Neil Gaiman's Journal)
I don't write about television much here, because, generally, it's only marginally more interesting than the most boring blog topic -- blogging about blogging (shudder.) I'm going to break one of my self-imposed rules and talk about a couple of TV programs that I really enjoy.
The first is a program that's relatively new. It started airing on Showtime earlier this summer. It's called Dead Like Me (site), and follows the adventures of a recently undead young adult as she pursues her afterlife career, as a Grim Reaper. I've watched almost all of the episodes, despite my not being a Showtime subscriber (hint: the Darknet is your friend), and I've really become a big fan.
The genius of Dead Like Me is how mundane they've made the day-to-day business of collecting souls. The protagonist, young George (Georgia) Lass, isn't some sort of undead superhero bristling with eldritch powers and mystical knowledge. Instead, she's a low-level, socially awkward entry worker who's been given the bare minimum amount of information she needs to get her job done. Grim Reaping doesn't even provide a salary, so she and her fellow reapers work part-time jobs and run scams to provide for their un-living expenses. The writers have gone in quite an unexpected direction as far as setting up the world these Reapers function in. Where they might have been expected to build up an elaborate mythology (as with Buffy or the X-Files), they've deliberately kept the backstory minimal. Like George, the viewers are given only the barest information about how the business of the dead and their souls works. The Reapers receive their daily assignments on ordinary Post-It notes in the morning, while eating breakfast at a very thinly disguised Pannekoeken Huis, then go on about their business. For George, this means working at Happy Time Temporary Services, for others it means working as meter maids or as petty thieves.
Another favorite of mine is Insomniac, on Comedy Central. It's a really minimal show (do you sense a theme here?) It essentially just consists of the host, Dave Attell, staying up all night in various cities, crawing from pub to pub, stopping in at oddball all-night businesses, and chatting with the locals. It must cost all of 50 cents to make, but theres an amiable, goofy charm to the whole affair. Host Attell is a very funny guy, quick with a quip, but never meanspirited. It's amazing to me how much more interesting I find this show than all of the tiresomely over-conceptualized "reality" programming that overwhelms the airwaves every summer.
I still love 24 -- I think it's every bit as good as it was last season, except for one thing: I am so sick of the Kim Bauer "Perils of Pauline" subplot. Even worse, I think the actress is sick of it, and it's dragging the show down unnecessarily.
I didn't watch American Idol at all last season. Being my usually snobby self, I figured that a competition that was very deliberately aimed at selecting the most commercially viable and mainstream acceptible STAR would have very little entertainment value for a smug, insufferable indie snob like myself. Though it's not "must see" or anything (like 24 or the Dead Zone), I have caught more than one episode of the current season. It's usually entertaining, though I find the host unbearable. Though I can admire the effort the candidates are putting forth, it does seem a shame that only conventionally attractive people with voices suited for singing mainstream pop and R&B are realistically eligible for the competition. I think about the fact that many of my favorite "singers" (vocalists, really, because I'm sure many of them wouldn't call what they do singing, necessarily) would never even get past the first cut of such a competitition. There's no room for someone who sounds like Björk or Sam Prekop or Colin Newman or Stephin Merritt (let alone the real oddballs like Stan Ridgway or Mark E. Smith...)
The Sci Fi network is bringing back that cheeseball sci-fi nugget of my youth, Battlestar Galactica. As an uncritical 12-year-old, I eagerly watched every new episode when they first aired. When the original episodes started airing in reruns a few years ago, I marveled at the cheap sets, recycled special effects, costumes, and laugh-out-loud plotlines. I wonder if they're going to play it straight?
I just watched NBC's new show, Kingpin. It's off to a promising start. It's been compared to the Sopranos, of course, but, from the first episode, at least. it looks like it's drawing more on the Godfather saga. The male lead, for example, seems like an updated Michael Corleone. It's also cool to see Sheryl "Laura Palmer" Lee in a meaty role.
Anyway, it's good to see an interesting drama show up on network TV. If it can avoid the most common pitfalls (a "very special Kingpin" [David Kelley disease], guess-who's-sleeping-with-who-this-week [E.R. disease], etc.) we might have something good.
Okay, I don't usually blog about watching television because, hey, it's television, everybody's got one and there are usually more interesting things to talk about. On the other hand, there are a few things I've been watching lately that are worth talking about, largely because I don't think any of them are in danger of being overexposed.
I think it's a USA Network / ABC co-production, so you can see it whether you have cable or not.. I love this clever little show. The premise is neat. Monk, played by Tony Shaloub, who you might remember from "Wings" or his very effective X-Files guest appearance, plays Monk, an ex-San Francisco homicide detective who had to leave the force after suffering a catastrophic breakdown. He has recovered, somewhat, but still exhibits classic symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. He has turned his obsessiveness into a virtue, though, as his attention to detail allows him to zoom in on clues that other investigators miss.
What's cool about the show is that Monk's condition isn't milked for obvious laughs. He's a very human, vulnerable guy who's made the best his situation and the show's writers treat the character with respect and obvious affection. The show reminds me a bit of the old detective show Colombo with its emphasis on character and plot over action and melodrama.
I happen to think that R. Lee Ermey is one of the coolest people on the planet, and the History Channel's new show is the perfect vehicle for him.
Comcast's new gaming network reminds me of the very early days of MTV, in that they are obviously stretching for content and are willing to give just about any wacky idea a chance. How else can you explain Cinematech a show that consists entirely of FMV and gameplay sequences from current and historic games, delivered sans commentary. I love it, it's the beginning of the promise of 500 channels being realized, when any damned thing that's even vaguely interesting to a few hundred or thousand people can get on the air. Bring it on, I say.
A large spider in an old house built a beautiful web in which to catch flies.
Every time a fly landed on the web and was entangled in it the spider devoured
him, so that when another fly came along he would think the web was a safe and
quiet place in which to rest. One day a fairly intelligent fly buzzed around
above the web so long without lighting that the spider appeared and said,
“Come on down.” But the fly was too clever for him and said, “I never light
where I don’t see other flies and I don’t see any other flies in your house.”
So he flew away until he came to a place where there were a great many other
flies. He was about to settle down among them when a bee buzzed up and said,
“Hold it, stupid, that’s flypaper. All those flies are trapped.” “Don’t be
silly,” said the fly, “they’re dancing.” So he settled down and became stuck
to the flypaper with all the other flies.
Moral: There is no safety in numbers, or in anything else.
— James Thurber, “The Fairly Intelligent Fly”