August 26, 2011

Categorical Statements

In Apple discontinues 99-cent TV rental program they explain the removal of rentals with the following quote:

“iTunes customers have shown they overwhelmingly prefer buying TV shows,” Apple said in a statement Friday.

That is, quite simply, a categorical crock. The truth is, I've been buying Dr. Who seasons for the last two seasons. But I've also been renting episodes of Leverage. Do I want to own it? No way. Thanks alot, Apple, and whatever network owns Leverage. You used to get a buck an episode from me. Now you get nothing.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:52 PM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2009

The Mighty Boosh

Okay, after just finishing Nanageddon, I must observe that the best episodes of The Mighty Boosh are the supernatural ones*. I was cracking up continuously for this one. I was very amused to see the cameo by Richard Ayoade, who also plays Moss on The IT Crowd.

*: The other one that got me that way was Electro, from season one. Gimme more!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:36 PM | Comments (0)

October 31, 2009

Halloween Pop Culture Refs

This first one is really only for my friends who knew and enjoyed Firefly. Nathon Fillion played Mal Reynolds in that ill-fated Sci-Fi western. He has landed on his feet and appeared in a number of popular roles. Currently, I'm watching him in a show called Castle, where he plays a mystery writer shadowing a female police detective to learn how it's really done. It's a pretty fun program.

So anyway, they have a Halloween episode this week. Castle is home trying on his costume for a party he's throwing, and it's Mal Reynolds! It's the exact duster, boots, gloves, etc. that make up the typical outfit that Mal wore in Firefly. Castle's daughter asks him, "what are you supposed to be?"

"Space cowboy!" he replies.

"Didn't you wear that like five years ago?" she asks. "Don't you think it's time you got over it?"

Second one is not so geeky, and I'm sure Renee might get a little smile off it as well. The show Numb3rs chose a light 'X-Files' vibe for their Halloween nod. Granger is walking through a hangar in 'Area 51' and asks, "why do I feel like I'm in a Scooby Doo episode?"

At the end of the episode, the quirky Pentagon 'auditor' played by John Michael Higgins says "and they would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for you pesky kids."

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:52 PM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2009

Black Books

I am certain I've raved here about The IT Crowd, Graham Linehan's paean to modern tech geeks. If you haven't seen it, give it a try. Some of the humor might be lost on you if you are not into computers, but mostly, it is the humor of the misfit, and should translate just fine.

Anyway, before this series, Graham Linehan wrote and directed another series, Black Books, and Jean and I watched it before she took her trip to Michigan last week. I only just now get to writing about it as I was myself wrapped up in life.

Black Books is about a misanthropic bookstore owner and his 'friend' Fran, who runs a new-age-y junk and trinket shop ("I do sell a lot of wank, don't I?") next door. Partway through the first episode I wasn't sure it was going to take off, but by the middle of that episode, I was laughing out loud. Find it, try it. It's quite fun.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2009

First Netflix Failure

Jean and I watched the first disc of Extras: Season One with great pleasure last week. This week we were all wiggly with anticipation when the second disc arrived. Unfortunately, midway into the first episode, the DVD player froze. No amount of skipping or fiddling worked. I'm going to try the recommended cleaning procedure tomorrow. If it doesn't work, we'll send it back, and have our first experience with Netflix's problem response system. Fingers crossed!

Update

We sent back the bad disc, and got a replacement yesterday. Jean and I watched it last night, and had a much better viewing experience. The Patrick Stewart episode is hilarious (at least the part with Patrick Stewart). I'll be sending back this disc, and waiting to see how they handle the 'duplicate'.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:57 PM | Comments (0)

August 28, 2007

The IT Crowd

The second season of The IT Crowd started in Britain last Friday, with an episode called The Work Outing. Through the magic of the Internet, Jean, Renee and I watched it this evening. I was 'worried' that there might be a sophomore slump, but I needn't have been concerned. Viewing the episode for all three of us went something like this:

Silence ... chuckle ... laugh ... silence ... chuckle ... laugh ... laugh ... guffaw ... gasp, "oh my god, back it up, play that again!", hysterical laughter, hysterical laughter, repeat...

Looking forward to episode two.

By the way, Channel 4, how about an NTSC DVD boxed set of Season One, so I can buy it (and buy it for friends, and...). I can't really play the PAL, Region 2, Boxed Set sold on your website.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:42 PM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2007

Why don't you get out of here, Finchley?

I had fragments of the above phrase running through my head this morning, with a vague notion that it came out of my vast store of useless pop culture junk phrases. Somehow I knew that Jean would be able to home in on the source, and asked "Jean, where does 'why don't you get out' come from?" She immediately replied with the title phrase, and said Twilight Zone! Yep, the story of a conveniently unlikeable fussbudget hounded by machines.

That started me off on the topic, as there is an upcoming movie based on a story I read when I was a kid, Mimsy Were the Borogoves, by 'Lewis Padgett'. I use quotes as Lewis Padgett was a pseudonym for the husband and wife writing team of Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore. Anyway, in the story, a couple of kids come across a box of 'toys' which are actually educational gadgets that have somehow fallen through a rift in time from the future. In the story, as I recall, the kids were gradually transformed by the toys, basically becoming transhuman. I'm sure the Hollywood version will involve explosions somehow.

After describing that one to Jean, I mentioned that there was another story about a device from the future, that messes up an ordinary guy's life. I read it about the same time as 'Mimsy'. It was called The Twonky, and lo and behold, it was also by Lewis Padgett! This story was made into a rather corny movie that I remember seeing, starring Hans Conried.

To bring things full circle, while I was digging for links to this article, I discovered that Kuttner and Moore wrote another story, this time adapted for the Twilight Zone, called What You Need. Neat.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:28 AM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2006

The I.T. Crowd

Jean and I just finished watching episode 1 of The I.T. Crowd. I didn't really know what to expect, as I have never seen any of the other works of Graham Linehan, the creator. Boing Boing author Cory Doctorow talked it up on the strength of an earlier Linehan series, Father Ted, which of course I've never seen.

Well, given my experience with episode one of The I.T. Crowd, I'd have to say that I'm interested in seeing some of Father Ted. The geek connection of the show rang really true, and the touches of absurd humor were generally spot on. I'm looking forward to seeing episode 2.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:59 PM | Comments (0)

January 03, 2006

QOTD

HBO's Westminster will continue the trend pioneered by Deadwood and Rome by making 19th-century England really dirty and weird, like Jane Austen with Tourette's. (Actually, I can't wait for that one.)


Guest Columnist Joss Whedon Eyes the Future of TV

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:33 PM | Comments (0)

October 18, 2005

Who Is He Talking To?

Okay, some fairly spirited swearing here, if that sort of thing bothers you, but I was laughing uncontrollably by the ending: Yes.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:02 PM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2005

Deadwood

With just one episode left in our Season Two DVD set of Six Feet Under, I voted that we crack the box open on Deadwood. I'd been casting about for a new series to watch with Jean during the summer reruns, and Deadwood gets mixed reviews. The consensus seems to be that the first season is worth the effort, though, so I bought the sucker.

Set in the late 1870s mining camp of Deadwood (Dakota Territory), we follow Seth Bullock, who has laid down his badge as a sheriff in Montana to pursue a career as a hardware store owner in the wild camp. Deadwood can hardly be called a town, as buildings are being erected and tents serve as store fronts when Seth and his partner arrive. There is a saloon, the Gem, owned by town boss and villain Al Swearengen.

A lot happens in the first episode, and we paused and backed up a couple of times. If you're put off by swearing, then this show is not for you, as these are the colorful characters of the old West, and they swear as frequently as they breathe. This is another dense HBO soap opera, and like Six Feet Under, I think it will rely heavily on character studies unfolding over multiple episodes. For now, at least, I'm looking forward to seeing more.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:46 PM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2005

Global Frequency

Global Frequency is a comic by Warren Ellis, about a vast, 'open source' distributed troubleshooting organization, the Global Frequency. Members are sleepers, going about their daily lives, until tapped via a special cellphone, by Miranda Zero, the putative leader of the organization. Miranda has a dark past, and to pay for her sins, she's shouldered the burden of coordinating this loose-knit group of people while they clean up the nightmares of the 20th century. There are currently three graphic novels collecting the series from DC Comics.

In the last year, a production company shot a pilot for a television series based on the graphic novels. This pilot was used as the basis of a sales pitch to the WB television network, and it seemed that they would pick it up, as chronicled here. Unfortunately, the network passed on the pilot, and the show was doomed to lapse into obscurity.

Then the pilot was leaked, by someone, onto the Internet. Recently I heard about it, and decided to play the outlaw and grab it. I just watched it tonight. Verdict: why on earth did those network suits pass on this show? It's cheesy science fiction, but I could name two or three of those on the WB alone, so that couldn't be the reason. The characters behave in implausible ways now and then throughout the pilot, but again, I can name names if I have to.

And the dialog in the pilot was nifty! I just loved the throwaway lines they gave to the central characters. Okay, I'm a fanboy, but I enjoyed Buffy, Angel and X-Files (not all the same creator, I know), and this show resonates with that sort of cheerful noir, to coin a phrase. Anyway, I have hopes that some other network will pick this up, as it would have a guaranteed place on my ReplayTV schedule. And yes, I've added the first graphic novel to my Amazon wishlist.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:04 PM

May 15, 2005

Series Finales

Over the last few days, I've been wrapping up a few series. Some I have already forgotten. Enterprise was okay in a mediocre way. Andromeda was the usual hash of non sequiturs and bizarre writing. I can't say that I'll miss either one.

More interesting to me are the shows I've been watching that centered around big mysteries, which, once solved, seem to seriously deflate the show. Lost, for instance, has managed to keep the tension high for a whole season, deepening the interest with clever backstory on all the key characters (who were they before they ended up on the island?). But eventually they'll have to reveal more than the snippets they've doled out so far. When that happens, I wonder how they'll be able to sustain things.

Veronica Mars just ended it's first season. Every episode has included "this week's story", wherein our heroine figures out some crime or helps one of her buds. Then there are the minor continuing plot threads, such as where her Mom went. And finally, there were the two major issues: who killed Lilly Kane, and who drug-raped Veronica the previous year? Surprise! They solved both the major issues, and reached closure on several of the minor ones as well.

In fact, their season cliff hanger seems to be pretty weak. She has broken off a new relationship because she (wrongfully) turned her boyfriend over to the cops as a murder suspect. Then she has discovered that her old boyfriend, whom she had though might really be her stepbrother, isn't. So in the denouement of the series finale, she is relaxing late in the evening and answers a knock on the door. She opens it, looks at the camera, and says "I was hoping it would be you." That's their cliffhanger. Okay, this is the soapiest of soap operas, but I like the writing and the characters, so I'm glad it's renewed for next year. But I'm truly curious how they'll sustain the energy now.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:12 PM

December 27, 2004

The Office

One of my Christmas presents to Jean and myself was The Office Christmas Special. We have seen both of the two seasons of the show, and it ended badly for several characters. That's kind of the point of the show, that it is not a sugar-coated comedy, but rather raw and pointed. Sometimes it went over the edge into the most uncomfortable of situations, which I generally don't care for, but most of the time, it was very amusing.

They broke with the tradition of the series, and allowed two characters happiness, and one a ray of hope. I think that's only just for a Christmas special, and I was never satisfied with the raw deal, however realistic, Tim received at the end of the second season. So I'm happy, and Jean's happy. Merry Christmas, fictional people!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:01 PM

Six Feet Under

Last night, Jean and I watched the first episode of the first season of Six Feet Under, which I more or less bought to watch with her over the Christmas break. It's too soon to tell, but I'm intrigued enough to want to see another episode (or thirteen, given that we've got the first season).

This is the second HBO series that I've sampled in the last few years. Jean rented the first season of the Sopranos a year or so ago. All I can say is that you can tell immediately that you're not watching regular television. Lots more swearing, sexual references. But also generally quite interesting writing. Maybe I'll update more as we progress, but for now, color me interested.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:30 PM | Comments (1)

July 20, 2004

Alan Young

For Tom, who was talking about Duck Tales at the last NOVA:

Alan Young was the voice of Wilbur Post in Mr. Ed, as well as the voice of Scrooge McDuck.

If a talking horse isn't 'goofy' enough for you, how about a talking mule?

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:23 AM

July 02, 2004

More Office

I bought the second season of The Office at Fry's on my way home today, so Jean and I could watch it over the holiday. This is the final season, so I'm a bit sad it'll be over after this weekend. There's a Christmas Special, apparently, but it's not available on DVD (yet), so we're stuck waiting.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:02 PM

June 27, 2004

The Office

Jean and I often relax in the evening by watching a show together. One of our more successful series recently was Colonial House. What made it successful was that we enjoyed the entertainment aspect of the show, but also had a lot of fun talking about the series, how it was set up, the interactions of the participants, and how we might have run things if it were up to us.

Our interests overlap in odd little areas, but this often results in a demographic that seems doomed to cancellation. For instance, Jean 'turned me on to' both Lucky and The Peacemakers. They are now both in the television graveyard, disappearing with not so much as a whimper after one season each.

We've had better luck in the animation arena, as Jean got me started on King of the Hill and we've totally exhausted the reruns to backfill early seasons. Now the most recent season is in reruns too, so we are casting about for things to watch. One show we've been watching is South Park. I've seen quite a few of these on my own, but it's fun watching them over with Jean. And there are about a hundred episodes a week to choose from. The downside of that is that even when it's funny, it gets to be a bit too much.

Enter the Internet! Da tada TAH! Somewhere, sometime, I don't recall, I read a rather glowing review of The Office. It's showing currently on BBC America, which we don't get. It's not showing on PBS. So the only way to see it is to buy it. After several weeks of cogitating, I finally decided to take the plunge, and bought the first season, with some trepidation.

To make matters worse, when I told Jean about it, she seemed unenthused, at best. I didn't know that she had a migraine and was running on limited sleep, so I thought, "oh dear, guess I'll have to watch it on my own." But she sat down with me the next evening to watch it. We watched the first two episodes, which really just introduce the characters and build their personae a little. Jean announced "that's cute." Okay, maybe I'll still be watching the rest on my own.

Well, she stuck with it, and the show has gotten better and better. Not for the characters, but for us anyway. The framing device is that the characters are on camera and they know it, via a documentary film crew. The film crew never intrudes on the action -- this is in fact like Colonial House in that respect. They just follow the poor sods of The Office around and capture their lives for us to see. This has an interesting effect in a comedy, as the characters get to actually direct their attention at the camera, at you, and share their feelings. Reaction shots can slip by in a second, but the looks are priceless. In one episode Gareth is riding in a motorcycle sidecar as he is driven past the camera, and he's only there for a fraction of a second -- I had to back up the DVD to catch it -- but his face, so apologetic, embarassed, defiant, conflicted, all at the same time. I bust a gut laughing at that shot.

Follow the link to get a summary of the series, setting, characters and what not. But a warning to my friends, I'm gonna be handing this one around when I'm done with it!

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:28 PM