And now it is too late…

Almost two months ago I wrote about the best show on TV that you weren’t watching, Terriers.  You were supposed to start watching, like, immediately.  But apparently, you didn’t.  And now they’ve gone and cancelled the show.

I hate procedurals.  They bore me, mostly because I want to know about the people solving the crimes, not the crimes so much themselves.  If I wanted to see crimes solved I’d read a newspaper or something.  What I want in my television are characters worth caring about, and most procedurals spend too much time on the science (half of which they make up anyway, or at least use in unrealistic budgetarily unconstrained ways) and not enough on the people.

Terriers was about people.  Sure, there were crimes.  Some of them were wrapped up in an episode, and some arced over several episodes.  But most the compelling part of the show was the people who were tangled up in the mess.  And ultimately, the core of the drama on Terriers was that it went to great lengths to illustrate that all actions have consequences.  Nothing in this show was wasted.  By the end of its run of just thirteen episodes, everything bore fruit, every action affected someone or something, every decision had consequences.

At this point, you’ve got a few options to see this gem in its entirety.  Head over to Amazon and buy it from video on demand, or get it from iTunes, or go find some less than legal avenue to download episodes… or wait for the DVD release, of which I hope it gets good treatment of extras and not just episodes on disc.

Of course, one of the biggest letdowns of the cancellation is that I won’t get to hear “Gunfight Epiphany” each week.  (Sadly, the song is only for sale on iTunes, and I hate iTunes.)

Just know… you could have saved this show.  But you didn’t.  And for that, I like you a little bit less today than I did yesterday.  I’ll get over it, but we lost one of the good ones here, and that’s on you.

Reforming Cable TV

In the wake of many subscription MMOs going to a Free to Play model, it got me to thinking.  Why can’t Cable TV do the same thing?

Instead of charging me $150 a month for 300 channels, most of which I’ll never watch, how about letting me have “free” cable, where I can watch PBS and other local stations in real time with commercials, and have everything, and I mean everything, available on demand as a pay per episode/pay per season service?  The infrastructure is there.  They already do sell programs on demand, they even ofter free on demand for many network and cable shows.  They already provide Internet service and have the bandwidth.  Just expand it.  Sure, some people might just watch the free stuff, just like some gamers only play the free parts of free to play games, but the people who pay and buy the extras will far outweigh them in the long run.

As an added bonus to this sort of design, TV execs can stop trying to guesstimate viewers and DVR watchers and whatnot and actually get hard purchaser numbers.  Even better, shows can stop competing against each other.  Many shows have tried to go up against juggernauts like American Idol or Dancing with the Stars or even some scripted shows, and even if they get a few million viewers, it isn’t enough to keep the show on the air.  Even when there are lower rated shows on the network, because sometimes it isn’t how good your show is but only how well it did versus someone else’s show.  What if, instead of seeing your show get a paltry 2 million viewers while 28 million tune in to some other network, you could see that within a two week period 18 million people watched your show, 16 million of whom, if forced, would choose another show but when given the freedom to watch whenever they want without being forced to choose will happily watch and enjoy your program?  Wouldn’t that be better?

And really, they don’t even need to go so far… I’d gladly watch the commercials during programs or special “sponsored by” spots before an episode if I could just watch all the shows I want when I want to watch them.  I’d settle for having everything, with commercials, available on demand, and having the cable company charge me for the channels I want to select from a la carte.  Rather than $150 a month for 300 channels, 282 of which I will never ever watch, ever; charge me $20 bucks a month and let me pick 20 or so channels I want to have.  Make it a dollar a channel, with discounts the more I select.

Anyway… those of the rambling thoughts that are rumbling around in my brain today.

Movie Round-Up: November 6th, 2009

The Men Who Stare At Goats:

This movie looks bizarre enough to make me laugh. Seriously, a movie about a secret military group trying to kill goats with the power of their minds? I may not rush to the theater to see this one, but it is definitely on my must see list for the future.

A Christmas Carol:

Again?  I suppose Hollywood needs to trot out the Dickens classic every now and then, but I haven’t been a huge fan of the dead-eyed uncanny valley motion capture Zemeckis films so far, perhaps this one will change that.  It is in 3-D, and I love me some 3-D.  However, I might want to wait until a little closer to Christmas to see it.  I just hope its not gone by then.

The Fourth Kind:

I like movies about alien abductions. Fire in the Sky, Communion, and so on. So I am predisposed to like this movie, however, after seeing a screening I found I only sort of enjoyed it.  It was interesting, but felt more like a documentary than a movie.  On the other hand, as a film making experiment I think the movie does very well. Writer/Director Olatunde Osunsanmi used a mixture of “filmed” footage starring Milla Jovovich and “raw” footage consisting of audio and video tapes of the true events the movie is based on.  In addition to that, the majority of the “filmed” footage, taken almost as re-enactments, played in simple stereo sound and had a tinny quality, as if we were listening to the sound through a tape deck, but when important “action” scenes, those concerning contact with aliens, the theater would flood with full high quality surround sound.  It made an impact on the audience, the switch from stereo to full surround, and heightened the experience.  While overall I was a little disappointed in the story of the film, I would definitely recommend seeing this one in the theater if you are at all interested.

The Box:

With the success of I Am Legend a little while back, it was inevitable that other Richard Matheson stories would get to the big screen.  This one, originally titled “Button, Button”, was also previously an episode of the 1985 run of The Twilight Zone.  A half-hour or hour long show seems the right length for the content of this story.  Matheson’s original differed from the Twilight Zone episode, and so this movie differs from both.  It was too long, too slow, and for something billed as a horror and/or suspense film, it lacked both.  The real problem with the film is that it telegraphs its only punch and then never deviates.  If you pay attention in the beginning, after the short conversation with Mr. Steward after Norma Lewis presses the button, you have all the information you need to know how this is going to end.  Sure, the movie throws a few red herrings at you to try to fake you out, but they are all hollow elements, and in my opinion would have been a far more interesting story than what we got if they had been fleshed out.  So, my recommendation, pass on this one.  In fact, don’t even bother with it down the road when its on DVD or cable.

Dragon*Con 2009: Day Four

Perhaps next year we’ll stay until Tuesday, but when you are leaving on Monday, day four of Dragon*Con always begins with packing.  After leaving our luggage with the bellman, the wife and I headed out to see some last few things.  For me, it was a short day of two events.  First, a Q&A with Felicia Day.  We watched episode one of season three of The Guild, and then she talked and people asked questions.  Fun and funny, even with the lady who wanted her Penny/Bad Horse fan fiction signed.  Yes, slash fiction.  Yes, he is a horse.  Felicia signed it, but I think everyone was more than a tad creeped out.  Afterward I went to the MMO track post mortem.  The guys of the MMO track are a great bunch, they run a fantastic track, and I look forward to the future of it.

Normally I end day four with a trip through the exhibiters and dealers halls, and maybe the art show, but given my previous posts describing my changing feelings toward them, I didn’t go.  So instead we picked up the luggage, got the car from the valet, and made the trek back home… about an hour away.  Man do I love living in Atlanta when it comes to Dragon*Con.

Unpacked, ate a real meal, and now the tired is settling in.  Dragon*Con, I’ll see you next year.


12 out of 13 nots
for awesome spy stuff, characters I cared about, and actually having an ending

So, I managed to make my way through all five seasons of the TV show Alias.  Damn, that was some good television. Read more

I Hate You

No, really, I do. If you are one of those stubborn people who haven’t been watching Jericho or Veronica Mars, I hate you.

Veronica Mars, currently finishing up its third season, is probably one of the best shows on television. While other shows that ran season long plots often wound up with entirely unwatchable episodes that could never be watched alone, Veronica Mars managed to have every episode contain its own plot while still throwing clues and furthering the main season plot. It was smart and funny. And it has been cancelled because of people like you.

Jericho is in the same boat. When I first read the plot of the show, I was skeptical, but after watching it, they really managed to pull off the “Terrorists nuke a bunch of cities and throws the US into chaos” world brilliantly. Like Veronica Mars, every episode was tight and contained its own mini story, a plot resolved in one episode, while also serving the greater overall plot. It too has been cancelled.

Of course, I cannot lay all the blame at your feet. This season, the networks, and I mean all the networks, really screwed up by putting so many shows on a multitude of hiatuses. Seasons broken in half or in thirds, shows constantly bumped in hopes of getting higher ratings from specials and game shows. The one thing they don’t seem to understand is, the main reason a high rated show stays high rated is the ability of the audience to find and watch the show. Jericho did great until the hiatus… it never recovered. Even powerhouse Lost slumped in the ratings after a promising start. Standoff might have done better if they’d ever actually put it back on the air. It ran 11 episodes up until December 12th when it got put on hiatus to return on March 30th… wait, April 6th… now, June 8th where it will be on Friday instead of its original Tuesday slot for its remaining 8 episodes (maybe). Fans like me just wanted to watch the show, but I can’t watch it if they don’t air it.

As it is, many shows don’t even get that far. Runaway, Kidnapped, Vanished, Studio 60, The Black Donnellys, Drive, Day Break, Happy Hour, Justice, The Nine, Six Degrees, The Wedding Bells, Smith, Raines… Lots of these shows didn’t even start with full order seasons, or even half orders. Networks are often hedging their bets by ordering 6 or 7 episodes, and as a viewer if I know that a show may only run 6 or 7 episodes I am going to be less likely to tune in. Its seems that gone are the days of building an audience, if a show doesn’t come out of the gates booming with success its not likely to stick around, and with prospects like that is it really any surprise that the viewers aren’t showing up?

TV has one more season, if this fall is a repeat of last fall with all the show cancellations after one or two airings, they are going to lose me as a customer. They might get my business on the back end when a show goes to DVD, but they’ll never get my ad revenue dollars.

I honestly think the business model has to change. At a minimum, Sweeps Weeks need to go away. Networks should be rated for their advertising based on viewership average for the entire year. Maybe that alone would go a long way to ensuring that they took care of their shows all year long instead of just a couple a months scattered throughout. After considering it a while, I’d be willing to pay as much as $1 an episode downloaded to my TV without commercials through and On Demand like system, even on my Xbox360 if it had to be. Maybe networks should consider going that route, dump this 24/7 programming model that is full of trash anyway and focus on making a handful of solid engaging hours per day.

Whatever they do, mostly they need to recognize, you can’t have loyal viewers if you are not loyal to your viewers. Someone has to start, and since it would be stupid to ask viewers to watch things that don’t interest them, the networks have to start by letting shows that don’t launch fantastically stick around to see if the viewers can find it.


First off, Mr. Eko is dead. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry about it. If you understand it, well, I hope you already watched this week’s episode.

My problem with Mr. Eko was that when they introduced him as the silent butt kicking prayer stick guy, I liked him. His representation of a man with faith was cool, and looked to be a good introduction to the mix of people finding their faith only once they were stuck on the island. Then they had to go and make him just like everyone else as he decided that “the button” was his purpose. *sigh*

In a way, I’m glad he’s dead… So, what exactly does that have to do with the NaNoWriMo? I’ll tell you.

When I started thinking about the project, I have a handful of ideas swirling around in my head. Immediately, I narrowed it down to three. Then I tossed out one because it would work much better as a TV script instead of a novel, and that left me with two. I wrestled and anguished over which idea I would run with, and finally I picked one.

Then I started writing it… See, I’ve tried writing this story before. I know where it starts, and I know where it ends, and I even know a few places it has to go in the middle, but I’m missing all the inbetween parts. As expected, when I sat down and started writing, the story started not going where I wanted it to go. I got stuck, as I always do, trying to get from where I am to the next major plot point. I see where they should go, but my characters don’t seem to want to get there. And this is how it relates to Mr. Eko.

From the show, I get the feeling that someone wrote up the character of Eko as he was in the first few episodes. Silent butt kicker who, with Ana-Lucia helps the tail survivors actually survive the much harsher life they fall into as compared to the relative peace of the other group from season one. I think that it was intended for Eko to somehow die, perhaps sacrifice himself to save the other survivors, on their trip across the island, but the character proved so popular that they kept him alive. According to legend, Jack was the same way. The good doctor was supposed to die in the two hour premier, but they rewrote the part when Michael Keaton turned down the role. He went from a big name guest star to a smaller name major character. In Jack’s case it all turned out pretty well, but with Eko, it seems like they hadn’t considered what to do with him. Upon the tail survivors reaching the rest of the passengers, they made Ana-Lucia the fighter, and so they decided to make Eko pursue his faith, which lead him to the button, and the conflict of faith with Locke… and it was all pretty uninteresting, Eko’s half anyway.

When writing my story, the character I want to make the main character keeps trying to step back and let other people be in the spotlight. I keep pulling him back in, but it just feels forced. So I think I’m either going to have to scrap the idea until I find a way to make him the main character without it feeling forced, or just let him fade into the background and use somebody else. I don’t want to turn him into a Mr. Eko.

Anyway… that’s all I’ve got today.

Veronica Mars

If you don’t watch this show, you should.

It has been a couple days since I watched the second season finale and I’m still just amazed. The final episode, just like the season before, takes all the clues that you’ve been getting all season long, the ones that you know are related but they don’t all fit into one puzzle, and gives you one last bit that makes everything snap together and the rush for the resolution is on! Holy crap! No wait.. they didn’t just.. oh my.. wait… what… I don’t… jeez… wow… holy fu… NO, THAT DID NOT JUST… YES!!

Seriously… season one is on DVD, buy it. Season two will likely come out soon, buy it also. And season three? Well, we will find out this week if Veronica and company make it on to the CW Network’s fall schedule. And they better, because I want to know what … nah, I won’t ruin it for ya.

Instant Gratification

When it comes to movies, its been years since the world has gone to a model of instant gratification. I want to say it was Batman that sealed the deal, but I don’t know for sure. I do know that that is when I noticed the change. Before then, having a solid opening weekend and good review was what companies wanted… followed by their movie staying at the box office for a few months, maybe more. Somewhere in the late 80’s that changed and studios began pushing for a mega-opening followed by… well… nothing. Advertising for films push the opening weekend so hard, and any movie that doesn’t crack twenty million at least is considered a failure. And if you notice, up until that opening weekend you’ll see commercials, and hear radio spots, but after that first weekend, any movie that didn’t finish in the top 5, doesn’t have critical acclaim or an Oscar bid will vanish. No more ads. It lost. The only exception to that rule is a movie that came out before a holiday but might experience a surge due to a holiday, like any romantic comedy or date film type movie that came out in January always gets a second push for Valentine’s Day… if its still in the theaters.

Television in the last few seasons has finally caught up to movies. This season saw Emily’s Reasons Why Not get a huge advertising push prior to its debut, then when it didn’t snag a monster share of viewers, not only was the advertising dropped, it was cancelled. After one single airing of the pilot episode, the network scrapped the show. Now, I’m not saying that Emily was a great show. It was kinda funny, and Heather Graham is nice to look at… but one episode? First off, it was airing in a slot that had previously belonged to Monday Night Football, so people who watch fluffy romance comedy shows weren’t likely to be on that channel at that time. And to be honest, as much as ABC claimed they promoted the show, if I didn’t normally watch shows on ABC I’d have never known it was on as most of their ad push seemed to be commercials on their own network during shows that, while popular, were not anywhere near the same demographic… I kept seeing the commercials during Lost and Invasion. Sci-Fi fans aren’t likely to watch romantic comedy shows.

Outside of Emily, CBS has pulled Love Monkey after, what, three episodes? It was a quirky show about the music industry using unknown acts and delivering rapid fire dialog. Obviously they pulled it because some page of numbers somewhere indicated that this show should have dominate the dial pulling in 30 million viewers… and obviously there are some TV execs with their heads firmly planted in their asses if they thought this show was going to be anything other than a niche show until at least a dozen episodes had aired and allowed word of mouth to spread. ‘Night Stalker’ also got cancelled a while back because it was only pulling in ‘X-Files’ ratings (a show that started slow, but ran 9 seasons, had a movie, and continues to sell seasons on DVD for $70 despite that the usual season price these days sits around $40-$50) and not ludacrisly lofty ‘American Idol’ numbers. And there are lots more examples…

It seems like Television, as with their Film counterparts, have lost faith in anything but the Out-of-the-Gate success. And its a shame, because lots of these shows that are falling by the wayside are good shows, and half of the ‘monster hits’ of the past wouldn’t survive under today’s rules. But then again, I think I have loved every show that has ever been pre-maturely cancelled, so my view may be biased.

Thinning the Herd

A couple weeks back ‘Night Stalker’, one of the TV shows I was watching this fall season, got cancelled. I really liked the show, but I could also tell why it wasn’t doing so well… it was a dark, slow show that was more mystery than action. What made it worse, however, was that the last episode they aired was the first part of a two part story. Son of a …

Today, word came down that ‘Threshold’ has been cancelled. If you look back a couple of posts here you’ll understand why I’m not surprised. I mean, the show had potential and I really wanted it to be great, but it was just so boring. As usual, the most recent episode was pretty good, and it ended with a good opening for stuff to finally happen, but it won’t… you can’t build a show anymore, you either are a winner out of the gate or they cancel you before you finish the first turn.

Fox has also cancelled ‘Reunion’ which was an odd little show… a murder mystery told over the span of 20 years, each episode being the events of one year that promised to eventually lead you to the 20 year high school reunion of six friends where one of them gets killed. It took them five episodes just to reveal to the viewers which of the six was the dead one, and that was my only complaint on the show… I think the story would have told better if we knew who the dead one was from the start because only now does the show become really interesting as lives unfold to show motive as to why one or more of the remaining five would want to bump one of their friends off. Only, we may never know. Fox hasn’t announced if the show is being pulled, only that it is cancelled. They might finish out the season, or they might do a couple episodes to quickly tie it up… or they might shut down production and never reveal the murder plot, which would completely suck.

Television Network executives probably wonder why sales of TV shows on DVD are so high, even for shows that didn’t do so well when they aired, but this is the reason… its almost not worth it to watch broadcast TV anymore, because no matter how good you think a show is, a focus group or the Nielson ratings might think its crap and it gets cancelled. So why bother? Why not just wait for it to come out of DVD in a complete set and then? At least you know what you are getting into.

Well, I guess on the bright side, I’ve got three more hours a week to do something else…