.the ramblings of a radman.

Category: TV (Page 1 of 3)

I don’t know where you buy a turkey tree, but I want one

All my adult life, I’ve heard people my age (and older) complaining about how Christmas season starts earlier and earlier every year. While true, most of the people complaining about this don’t realize that this isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s not even something that started in the last 10 or even 15 years.

The Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special from 1973 calls attention to this “problem” in the first 2 minutes of the video. Pay close attention to Charlie Brown’s conversation with his sister, Sally.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VayAyAr-xqI]

Yes, retailers are starting the Christmas shopping season earlier than they did in the past. But it’s not a new problem. In fact, if you consider how little has changed in the last 40 years, it seems to me that it is, perhaps, a sign of the desire of humans to merge the joy they experience with Thanksgiving and Christmas into a two-month long celebration of life, family, and surviving the winter together.

Something to think about.

The Real Iron Throne

George R. R. Martin wrote a blog post revealing the differences between how he pictured The Iron Throne from the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series and the way it was depicted in “Game of Thrones” (also known as “Die Brotherf***ker, Die!”). Let me tell you, it’s frakking rad.

Marc Simonetti - Iron Throne
(Click on the photo above to visit the artist’s ASoIaF page)

This picture shows a throne forged from 1,000 swords, rather than a mere 200, as in the show. If you’ve read the books, the pictures on the artist’s page are pretty awesome. If you haven’t, then you’ll probably only care about the throne (and may have spoilers if you look at some of the photos).

I sincerely hope there’s more of this stuff out there. The worst thing about great fantasy novels being turned into movies (Lord of the Rings) and TV shows (Game of Thrones) is how hard it is to find great art inspired by the books. Most of the time, all you can find are Photoshopped stills from the move or show.

Please, if you have any links to great fantasy artwork inspired by novels like these, please point the way. Especially if they’re large enough to function as wallpapers for computers or iPads. Resolutions of 2048×2048 are tough to find in this genre.

Thanks to Mashable for the heads up.

Joss Whedon returns to TV with Marvel’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Anyone that knows me knows I love Joss Whedon. Not just a little bit. I mean, I’ve seen everything he’s ever done at least once and most of it three times or more. It’s safe to say that Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel are responsible for how I judge the majority of television that comes along, and Firefly is the shiniest show I know. Plus, Dr. Horrible was the first web series for which I ever paid money.

So, when I tell you that I’m excited for Marvel’s new TV series about S.H.I.E.L.D., keep in mind that what I’m really saying is that I’m excited for Joss Whedon’s return to television. Especially since he’s got a franchise behind him that will almost guarantee that we get 5 seasons from the show. It’s not a Firefly revival, but it’s a start.

Anyway, the trailer for the new series was released yesterday and it’s awesome. I highly recommend you take the next three minutes of your life and watch it now.

The Return of Magnum P.I.


When I first saw this, I had a brief moment of joy as the irrational part of my brain took over and told the rest of my brain, “At long last! The network has seen fit to restore this show to its rightful place on television!”

Then I realized that the irrational part of my brain had been drinking again and the rest of my brain quickly shut him down. The depression that followed soon after was short-lived, yet terrifying.

I miss you, Magnum. I miss you so hard.

Donate to L5, Or: How I Learned to Stop Complaining and Crowdfund Science Fiction

Yesterday, I posted an entry about L5, a completely crowd-funded sci-fi series pilot. I received an excellent comment from another fan that brought me some excellent information. It seems that L5’s first episode has already reached over a million downloads! That’s pretty impressive. Unfortunately, it seems that there have only been a little over $7,500 donated to the project since the first episode was released. Imagine, if only a fifth of those that downloaded the episode donated $5, they’d be able to fund 5 seasons of the series at the same budget per episode. Or double the budget per episode and give us two solid seasons of the show.

So, I’m including a link here to the donation page for L5 so that you can choose to give your next caramel macchiato to a worthy cause. And when you do, let me know and I’ll invite you to the first season watch party. Hopefully that happens in 2012 and not 2889.

L5 – a crowd-funded pilot episode for a sci-fi series

I’m a sucker for science fiction. I have been since childhood. I grew up staring at the TV with lightsabers  humming and lasers blasts caroming around trash compactors all day long. I loved Battlestar Galactica, despite its incredibly cheesy everything. As I got older, I continued to check out every sci-fi show I could, despite the fact that most of them were canceled before they were able to truly flourish. Most simply couldn’t garner enough viewers to justify the gargantuan budgets necessary to create alien worlds and/or technology. The ’90s were the worst for me. Show after show just vanished from the air just as I grew attached to the characters or story. This practice continued into the new millennium, though with less frequency, as studios stopped risking budgets on sci-fi as a general rule and the Sci-Fi channel became a haven for science fiction to survive.

Thankfully, Netflix provides me with a large source of science fiction that I missed the first time around (Farscape, Babylon 5, Sliders) and has allowed me to re-experience some of my favorites (Stargate, Firefly) without any delay between episodes. However, I’m still looking out for that next great series that runs for 5 to 10 years and enthralls me throughout. But, with studios unwilling to spend the money necessary to create high quality series, some sci-fi creators are seeking new ways to fund their projects.

And now we have reached the entire reason for this post. Today I came across a short film/pilot for a science fiction series that was made entirely using crowdsourced funding with a budget of $15,000. The result is pretty spectacular, though some might be put off by less-than-stellar performances and B-grade special effects. It certainly reminds me of some of my favorite sci-fi novels, in which a great mystery is investigated by a small few individuals. I highly recommend checking it out. I’ll certainly be looking forward to it.

It’s supposed to be available at VODO, but I haven’t been able to get the site to load all day. But it’s being freely distributed via BitTorrent, as well. You can find it via EZTV here.

Somewhere out there…

Somewhere out there, a parallel universe exists. This alternate reality is exactly like ours in nearly every way. There are thousands of parallel realities, but this one is the most important. It bears a 99.9999999% likeness rating to our own and has the following key features:

Jonathan Brandis and River Phoenix are still alive and have been cast in 3 movies together. In one of them, they starred opposite Leonardo DiCaprio. It tanked.

Firefly was never canceled. It ran for seven years and has become the gold standard for science-fiction character dramas on television. Joss Whedon created a spin-off about a young Shepherd Book. It was cancelled during the first season but has had a very successful comic book series since.

George Lucas died in 1996. On his deathbed, he turned over creative control of the series to Steven Spielberg. He sat on the rights for several years and eventually formed a partnership with J.J. Abrams and Timothy Zahn, requiring unanimous decisions for the future of the franchise. To this day, no one has ever heard of Jar Jar Binks or “Ani” Skywalker.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is still on the air and has served as biting commentary on the political state of our nation. He has announced his plans to run for President in 2012 should President Obama decide not run again.

Facebook and Google were both brought up on charges for mishandling of personal information of their clients. Facebook has not recovered from the bad publicity and has been overtaken by several social networks. Eric Schmidt is currently spending 5 years in prison for willfully violating the privacy of millions of Americans. Mark Zuckerberg has appealed his case and is currently still on trial.

Television networks have invested heavily in web and mobile distribution for currently airing series. Netflix and Hulu are the two most visited websites in all of the world thanks to easy viewing on iPhones, iPads and many set-top boxes/gaming devices.

If someone had told me…

If someone told me that one day I’d prefer to listen to covers of classic 80s rock songs and current pop songs sung by 20-something actors playing high schoolers instead of the original artists that recorded them, I’d have called them a liar. Or punched them in the mouth. Or both.

Damn you Thank you, Glee, for being so incredibly entertaining.

Hulu Plus = not enough

So Hulu announced their new Hulu Plus subscription service this week and I just wanted to say… it sucks.

Now hear me out, because I’m a big fan of Hulu. I am not, however, a fan of paying for ads. Nor am I a fan of paying more for less. And, unfortunately, that is what’s happening with Hulu Plus.

Let’s start with the advertisements. I have no problem watching ads in order to view TV. I’ve been doing it for years, and it’s worked out pretty well for me. But the reason that I loved Hulu in the early days is that the ads were fewer and (as the service grew) targeted to the viewer. Unfortunately, Hulu decided that they weren’t making enough money from ads and needed to start a subscription-based model to bring in more money. The good news, now Hulu can afford to pay all those pesky licensing fees so that they can show every episode from every series they’ve got online, even if it’s the current season of your favorite ABC drama. The bad news, Hulu forgot that people paying for Internet-based subscription-driven websites don’t like to also be forced to watch ads during their shows.

Why is this a problem? For starters, Netflix already offers a great deal of the same shows with no ads for a cheaper price. Furthermore, Netflix offers something that Hulu doesn’t (which brings me to my second issue, paying more for less). At Netflix, $9 per month will get you unlimited streaming and 1 DVD out at a time from Netflix’s vast rental library. That’s $1 cheaper than Hulu Plus’s $10 subscription fee and includes the added bonus of being able to watch shows and movies that aren’t available for streaming without ever leaving your house to go rent them (except of course when you walk to your mailbox, but if you’re that agoraphobic, then you have larger problems).

So why will people use Hulu? Honestly, because it’s still a fairly cheap service and has established itself as a common enough name that people trust the brand. Also, the free content remains free, so people will be pressured to sign up while viewing the free content. It’s a business model that has worked well in the past. Netflix doesn’t have any sort of free service. The only way to try before you buy is to sign up for a free month and see how it fits. Plus, if you want access to Hulu on your iPhone or iPad, you’ve got to be a subscriber (though, again, Netflix offers this service for the iPad already and will be adding the iPhone very soon).

Hey, maybe you’ve got money to burn and can afford a subscription to both. If that’s the case, feel free to sign me up, as well. Being able to watch every season of Stargate SG-1 while I’m waiting for my tires to get changed is an excellent use of my (still) unlimited data plan. Suck on that, AT&T.

On how some fail to see a paradigm shift…

Just an excerpt I thought pointed out how badly Hulu fails to see a paradigm shift they helped create.

Gruber is not one of those who talks about Apple TV as Steve Jobs’ one dud. He likes Apple TV, but says it has a fundamental problem: it’s primarily about watching movies and TV shows through the iTunes store, with the result that there’s a worse selection on Apple TV than there is at any local video store. Hulu is a wonderful solution but when Boxee figured out a way to put it on TV, the Hulu guys freaked out. They have “this crazy brick wall in their heads,” Gruber explains, that perceives computers and TVs and two fundamentally different things. They worry about ad-supported Hulu getting on TVs when they should be worried about people bootlegging their content for free and watching it with no ads. “I don’t see,” Gruber concludes, “how Apple can get from where they are to where they need to be when they are negotiating with people that stupid.”

John Gruber, in an interview with Fortune – emphasis mine

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