Tag Archive for show

Blade: The Series – Revisited

I have never been someone unwilling to admit mistakes. Over a month ago, closing in on two, I put up a little review for Blade: The Series.

From the perspective of the two hour pilot, I stand behind my review. It was crap. However… as the show has progressed, the creators of the show did something interesting and unexpected: they pushed Blade into the background. Now, the show is still about him fighting vampires, trying to foil their nefarious plans, but they realized, as most people have, that telling that story from Blade’s point of view is boring. He finds vampires, he kills them. Dull as dirt. Instead, the show introduced a young woman who was turned, but Blade got to her and has put her on his serum. She’s not a daywalker like him, but the serum keeps her mind clear of the hunger for blood. Blade then sets her the task of infiltrating the vampires to get him information, to destroy them from the inside. And she’s got good reason, the vampires killed her brother.

At this point, the show becomes more about the vampires, interactions among the clans, the divide between then infected and the pure bloods (born as vampires)… in other words, it actually becomes watchable, even enjoyable, and in some episodes it is down right good TV. It harkens back to Kindred: The Embraced in some ways, and I’m certainly getting a kick out of it.

And thankfully, Randy Quaid hasn’t returned as of yet… Let’s hope it stays that way.

Naked People Are Not Evil

It’s really weird. In this country, the United States of America, our society seems to think that a child viewing nakedness will be destroyed, scarred for life. But they can watch people be murdered brutally on practically every TV show. Now, of course that is an exaggeration, but the point remains…

Recently, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was re-rated to Mature because you can appearantly hack the game to show no clothes, and the texture artists for the game put nipples on the skin textures (not just the women, the men have nipples too, but you never read that in the articles). Being able to behead people and play soccer with the head… that only makes it a T for Teen. What?

Seriously, I don’t expect people to show eight year olds hardcore pornography, because well, even as an adult I find some of that stuff disturbing, but to hide “boobs” from kids while allowing them to see blood spattered violence just seems oddly hypcritical to me. Gun, bombs, and death are cool, kids, but naked people are evil… or something like that.

Graphics in Games

One of the things that continues to baffle me is the push for more intense, more realistic graphics in games. While I’m sure that focus groups have show that people respond to the “better” graphics, and that shelf sales increase based on graphics buzz, every game I’ve ever played, and every game everyone I know has ever played, gets played longer based on the game play and has nothing to do with the graphics.

Seriously, if the game sucks, you put it down. In MMORPGs while box sales are important, continued subscribers and word of mouth are what make a game a long term success. World of Warcraft doesn’t have the best graphics in the world. Sure, they are highly stylized and pretty, but the fact that my 1GHz, 1GB RAM, 256MB ATI 9800 machine runs it great is just awesome. Other games that have come out almost refuse to install on my computer at all. And while I don’t want to put down WoWs graphics, its clearly obvious upon long and repeated play that Blizzard spent alot more time on game content and less time on the graphics than some of their competitors.

At arcades all over the world, despite their being a number of “better” games graphics wise, people still continue to put quarters in games like Pac-Man. Simple graphics with immediately engaging game play. City of Heroes grasped this concept well. With its fast paced wham-bang superhero action, its almost pure fun. Its only real flaw is that the snail’s pace at which later levels progress will make any but the more hardcore gamers and diehard fans stop logging in to play.

So, for me, the perfect MMORPG would have “good” yet not overly expensive or time consuming graphics. Less polygons and shaders, more variety of color and style, and with the millions being saved not being spent on a AAA graphics team, I’d be able to hire a few more content designers to help keep the game exciting to play even if its not the most exciting to look at.

Love Monkey

While the show Love Monkey was on, I praised it. I dug the show and its stars, I even dug the music they put on it. It was a fun quirky show that I just could not get enough of. I found out that it was based on a book by the same name, so after the show got canned, I saw the book in the bookstore and decided to pick it up.

A while back I reviewed “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac. Basically, I thought it sucked. Sadly, I feel pretty much the same about Love Monkey. The TV show was great, but this book is… its rambling diatribe on things that just aren’t particularly funny to anyone but the author.

In the show, Tom Farrell worked in the music industry, had a tight group of friends, and was smitten by a woman he worked with. In the book, Tom works for a tabloid, has a loose group of acquaintences, and is completely obsessed with a woman who works for the same tabloid but rarely actually sees.

Much like my trip through “On The Road” gave me a few personal insights and new outlooks, “Love Monkey” gave me a dozen of laughs. At 368 pages, a dozen of laughs is pitiful. This book just… it… I… ah… jeez, I’m drawing a blank and I just keep coming back to “sucks”.

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.

Sex and Violence on TV

I stumbled on this article over at CNN. Okay, I didn’t really stumble on it, I read the Entertainment section over there a couple times a day and the picture of Emily Deschanel drew me in. First off, she’s cute. Second, she plays the lead on the TV show “Bones” that I happen to enjoy a great deal.

Anyway, the article points out that during the last week in September, if you watched all the shows broadcast by the six major networks in primetime, you would have seen 63 dead bodies, which is an increase over the 27 dead bodies in the same week in 2004. Frankly… so what?

I really don’t know alot of true couch potatoes, people who will watch anything that’s on TV with no regard to its quality. Most people I know watch a handful of shows or more, but if a show is sub-par they’ll stop. They may give it a few extra weeks hoping it gets better, as I often do myself, but can only take being slapped in the face so long before they walk away. That said, if people watch a show, it must be what they want to see… as long as its not grossly inappropriate (showing snuff films and real rapes to five year olds) why should anyone care what people watch?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for making “good, quality” television for the whole family, but I’m also very strongly for parental responsibility. Any kid who watches a TV show that his parents aren’t aware of or haven’t viewed themselves needs more parenting. If I had a kid, he probably wouldn’t be allowed to watch some of the shows I do, or at the least he’d have to watch them with me and I’d make sure we talked about any subjects that come up.

Here is a nice little quote from the article:

“Yet the PTC, which frequently files complaints with the Federal Communications Commission about network fare, admits that its focus has primarily been on sex, not gore. One reason is that there’s no government agency concerned with these issues, said Melissa Caldwell, the PTC’s research director.”

And it makes me ask, “Do we need a government agency concerned with these issues?” If there is something I don’t want to watch on TV, I won’t watch it. If there is something I don’t want my kid to watch on TV, I won’t let my kid watch it. The one thing I really don’t want is some tax funded agency that I pay for and have little to no control over deciding that I or my kids shouldn’t be allowed to watch a show. I think the government has gone about as far as it needs to in mandating that all TVs had to have V-chips in them to allow the blocking of TV broadcasts based on TV ratings. One the other side, I think the TV networks need to expand the ratings, make more levels and divide them up. Don’t just rate a show TV-MA because its violent or because it has other adult themes, rate the show TV-MA-Violence or TV-MA-AdultThemes, and then have the monitor software allow me to say, “You know, my kids can deal with all the sex on TV that can be thrown at them, but I don’t want them watching TV-14 or higher level violence.” or even “You know, guns and sex are okay, but no bad language in this house.” Basically, give me the tools to be as arbitrary as *I* want to be, but don’t try to force someone else’s arbitrary ideas on me.

TV to some extent, and movies to a large extent, need to take a look at the computer game industry ratings and head that direction, and all of them need to keep going, providing more tools for parents and other people. Then we just need to courts to come in and start legislating personal responsibility by throwing out any case where someone watched TV or a movie or played a game and accidentally saw something they didn’t want to see because they forgot to use the tools provided to them.

Yeah, it sounds nice… but I won’t be holding my breath…

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…

9 0 2 1 Oh no you didn`t!

Just about every Tuesday I can be found down at the North River Tavern (formerly Taco Mac By The River) matching wits with the trivia gods… or at least having some food and drink and conversation while playing trivia for house cash. We do fairly well, our team, winning one of the three cash prize places every couple of weeks. Winning third place nets you $20, and its almost worse than winning nothing… splitting the money five or six ways barely takes a bite out of the bill. Second place at $40 is better, but first place at $60 is where its really worthwhile. Food and a soda will run you $10 at the tavern, so a five or six man split on the winnings means you eat for free and only pay for alcohol. It works out well for the waitress too, with $10 to $15 less to have to spend it means each person will be tossing in an extra couple bucks into the tip pile, quickly pushing a 20% tip into the realm of 40% or better.

Thursday nights, the North River Tavern runs trivia again, and sometimes we go. While Tuesdays is sort of a ‘General Knowledge’ type trivia with all sorts of categories, Thursdays is theme night. Well, this week’s theme was ‘Beverly Hills 90210’. Some of our team didn’t make it, not being thrilled about the topic, but I’ll admit I watched the show… 6 of the 7 seasons anyway, I got bored of it at the end. The show was fun to laugh at.. the plots were ridiculous, and the only person worth rooting for was David Silver. For some reason Brian Austin Green’s character just had this underdog quality that made you want to see him overcome his hardships and win a little bit… everyone else on the show you wanted to see tortured and burning in hell because 99 times out of 100 their problems were their own damn fault and never should have happened to begin with.

Anyway, our team, three members strong, managed to get first place. Woohoo! Go us! Of course, we aren’t complete 90210 geeks or anything, out of a possible 1120 points, we snagged first place with a whopping 220. So no, we aren’t the biggest geeks in the world, but we were the biggest geeks to show up Thursday for trivia at the North River Tavern.

Surface, Threshold and Invasion

This Fall TV season saw the premier of three shows about aliens: Surface, Threshold and Invasion. Let me give you a quick rundown on them…

Surface is about a female marine biologist (or something like that) who runs afoul of an unknown invertabrate while in a mini-sub, deep in the ocean; a man goes spear gun fishing with his brother who accidentally spears a huge underwater beast and is dragged really deep after losing his oxygen tank; and a boy finds a weird egg in the water. It turns out the government already knows about the beasts and is quick to start shutting people down… but they don’t want to be shutdown.

Threshold is about a weird 4th dimensional object that appears to a bunch of buys on a Navy ship and messes with their DNA. A woman who consults for the government on contingency plans is called to action as her plan, called ‘Threshold’, that details first contact with aliens is put into play. She assembles a team and starts looking for the missing crewmen while trying to stop them from using the alien signal to bioform and terraform our people and planet.

Invasion takes place in Florida, and during a big hurricane, a bunch of lights fly up out of the sea and it appears that in a bodysnatcher-like way lots of people have been infected or replaced by aliens. As the town recovers from the devastating storm, weird stuff beings to happen.

Okay… from the initial descriptions, I put my money on Threshold for the win. For one, it had no kids. Invasion is practically about families, and one of the three main people in Surface is a kid raising an alien which is just all too ‘E.T.’ for me. Threshold sounded like a solid story about a government organization assembled to face an alien threat. That’s why I’m so disappointed that it has sucked so far. I mean, this week, which is the 7th or 8th episode of the season, finally revealed that the alien signal is terraforming as well as bioforming, something I assumed from the get-go since it was manipulating people on a genetic level and plants aren’t so different. Plus, it had all the actors… Charles S. Dutton, Carla Gugino, Brent Spiner, Peter Dinklage and even William Mapother who did a great job as Ethan on the first season of ‘Lost’, and Brian Van Holt who I just saw on DVD in ‘House of Wax’ where he did an excellent job. It’s these people that keep me watching the show at all… the plot is moving forward so slowly though. Ugh.

I also had good hopes for Invasion. I love a good bodysnatchers movie, and this one had a cool twist in that the people who’ve been ‘snatched’ aren’t really sure what’s going on themselves. Then there is the lynchpin of the story, that the town sheriff is also one of the snatched, but he got snatched years ago, so he’s kinda sheparding the newly snatched into dealing with what has happened. To top it off, the show is created by Shaun Cassidy, whom I gained massive amounts of respect for back in 1995 when a little known show called ‘American Gothic’ hit the air, about a sheriff who might be the devil, a boy who might be his son and the product of a rape, and all the ways in which the sheriff controls the town. I loved that show, so I just knew this one would be good, even if it ended up getting cancelled after one season like ‘American Gothic’. But again, I was let down… again this past week was the 7th episode or so, and finally the story started actually going somewhere. Maybe it’ll get better. In the meantime though I think I’ll go buy ‘American Gothic’ the complete series on DVD.

This brings us to Surface. I would have bet hard earned dollars that this show was going to blow. Dinosaurs in the ocean? Come on, we can do better than that! The whole plot just seems so… silly. And yet, by their 7th episode they are in full swing. We’ve seen the baby alien, we’ve learned some of its abilities, we’ve seen glimpses of the big ones and the wreckage of what they can do, we’ve got a full blown government conspiracy to cover up their existance and even the government turning on their own leading scientist when he begins to feel they need to start going public. We’ve got families being broken apart and the whole thing is spiralling on a collision course with something… I’m not sure what yet exactly, but this show is definately going somewhere.

So that’s my review of the alien shows this season…

3 Days in the City

One of the few things I do like about living in Atlanta is Music Midtown. Its a 3 day music festival. This year it had 8 stages, plus the usual set of vendor booths and non-profit organizations.

Friday. We (Kevin, Jodi and I) headed down a little late, got there just in time to catch a song or two of American Hi-Fi on the 99x stage, and then wheeled over to 96rock to see Cheryl Crow with a plan to return for the big act (for us) of the night, Live. A few songs into her set, the winds picked up, and with the lights swinging over the stage they called for a break and slipped off. A few minutes after that, the sky opened up and dumped water on the city. We made a run for cover, and waited a bit. Before we could decide if we wanted to try to wait out the rain, the PA system crackled to life and announced that the show was being called and that everyone should head for cover. Seems there were “extreme weather” warnings out for our area. Despite the forecast for rain, we’d hoped it wouldn’t, and optimistically didn’t buy ponchos. So we walked about 6 or 7 blocks back to the car in the rain. In the parking garage we dried off a bit, then called it quits and went home. It rained. Alot. All the way home. Then it stopped. Live played at midnight. We missed it.

Saturday. We managed to get downtown a little earlier this time, around 2:30. Armed with ponchos this time, we stood in the rain and heard the last few songs of Die Trying on the 99x stage. Jodi and I headed off to check out the vendors who were weathering the weather, but returned shortly (not much to see). The rain stopped. The clouds began to part, and the blue sky beneath became revealed. Evanescence took to the stage. Poetry. They played their album, which of course, as often is the case, would have been better had the guy working the soundboard not decided that EVERYTHING had to be set at eleven. During their set, the crowd around the stage increased ten fold as people came crawling out into the sunlight. After Evanescence, we slid back to the food court near 99x’s stage and found something to eat. As we sat consuming our far too expensive food, Angie Aparo went on and played well. A good performance. After that we wandered around a bit, mostly checking out the location of some of the other stages and passing through the non-profit zone. Then returned to the 99x stage to catch Cowboy Mouth and a few drinks. At 8:30 we had to make a dash for the other end of the park, to the V-103 stage, to see the greatest band ever… Morris Day & The Time! (oh-ee-oh-ee-ohh!) After 20 years you expect a band to be tight and have a polished act, and they do. Song to song, Morris and the Time play and perform almost perfection. It was like opening a door and looking into the 1980’s. Pure bliss. Once we’d finished absorbing the funk, we split up and Kevin headed off to see Godsmack, while Jodi and I took a mellow turn and visited the stage of Tony Bennett. All these years, and Tony still knows how to croon.

Sunday. Down for the last day, we went late. We slid past the 99x stage as Jack Johnson played and headed to where I would plant my feet for the remainded of the day, 96rock. drivin n cryin were up first (not Kevin Kinney solo, but dnc a.k.a. the good stuff) and they put on a decent show, swinging through all the expected hits with a few other tunes for flavor. We stayed there through Everclear. While I respect any band that puts themselves out there, and Art is a pretty decent guy, Everclear really needs to expand their sound. I enjoy them. They have a bunch of good songs. But boy do alot of them sound alike. Still worth listening too though. Kevin took off again at this point to go see Zwan, while Jodi and I remained to experience Def Leppard. They opened with Side 1 of High and Dry. Not many bands have the balls to do something like that. Then they began to slither down through their hits (avoiding notable love balads like “Love Bites”, but hitting all the others that got them banned from Dial-MTV in the 80’s like “Animal” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me”) and slipping in a new song now and again from their new album “X”. Just like Morris Day & The Time, after 23 years (Def Leppard first came to Atlanta in 1980) you expect to see a good show, and they delivered. Joe still has a pretty good voice, Vivian and Phil are good guitarists, Rick Savage thumbs a mean bass, and Rick Allen, the one armed drummer, still bangs a wicked set of bongos. I missed them in tour for Hysteria (my parents wouldn’t let me go, my brother did, I have a t-shirt), while this doesn’t make up for it, it helps.

3 Days, 2 legendary bands, a few other good ones, rain, feet aches, expensive food, more expensive drinks, and a couple of souvenir t-shirts. All in all, a good way to spend a weekend.