Archive for the ‘TV’ Category


I see dead people

December 9, 2012

I have reached the age where many of the celebrities, politicians and other well-known people of my youth have passed into the great beyond. This natural evolution struck me recently as I thought about the world as seen through the eyes of my 9 year old daughter. Specifically, I realized that she has no anchor (pun intended) to help her understand the events of the world.

Growing up, watching the nightly news was pretty standard for me. From Walter Cronkite to Dan Rather on CBS, and later Ted Koppel on Nightline, there is an image in my head of the voice of authority delivering the news of the day. My mental lens of history is shaped by my interaction with TV news.

Let’s just say, for the record, I watched a lot of TV growing up. I secretly believe my entire ability to deliver a sharp and funny line is due to my nightly training by Johnny Carson.

Today, the kid typically gets an hour a day of screen time. For the most part, that consists of wretched sitcoms on the Disney Channel (no more wretched, I suppose, then my watching Gomer Pyle, USMC) or animation (Phineas and Ferb is top-notch). On weekends we all get to watch competition shows on the Food Network.

There is no turning on the tube (there is no tube!) to watch the evening news because the news flows constantly through the Internet to one of the six screens I have available at any given time. It is only when major events happen that I tend to turn to MSNBC or CNN (or, if I need a laugh, to FOX News).

Back to the original point. The kid has no anchor. She is still young enough that the news is mostly irrelevant to her, but that time is quickly coming to an end. When she does get interested in the world around her, she will turn to the net just like the rest of us. The concept of a voice of authority bringing the news to her will not likely exist. Unfortunately, she will likely not know how to separate the true from the false easily either (everything on the Internet is true, right?).

I think she is missing something and that is just one instance of how all the people that shaped my sense of the world are now gone. My kid is learning comedic timing from Austin & Ally instead of Carson and McMahon. She is a digital native and the world has changed, as it always does.


Watching Obama

March 21, 2009

The unprecedented appearance of a sitting President on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno represents a real change in how government in this country “markets” itself. I was 90% impressed and 10% worried.

The 90% comes from the fact that this administration finally realizes that society has changed and the way we communicate has changed along with it. We are not a nation that only reads The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. We are a nation that consumes its news from the Internet and TV. We are a nation that considers “The Daily Show” a credible source (and it is – Cramer v Stewart will likely turn out to be a watershed moment in the Great Recession). Our President and his team realizes that you don’t just visit Leno when you are campaigning, you visit him when you need to communicate to the masses. (Or, perhaps they realize that you never stop campaigning; you are just campaigning for something different once in office).

The President did an excellent job of appearing smart, confident, funny and “Presidential” and still finding a way to connect with the audience. He gives Jay Leno a shake/buddy hug when he comes on stage and that fundamentally shifts how we perceive our leader. President Obama is a man, not a figurehead. He is really one of us. I wanted to listen and believe and be inspired, just as I did throughout the campaign.

My little worries, the 10%, come from the fact that as a nation we don’t all balance our media diet. Too many people rely on only Jon Stewart and Facebook for their information. Our children don’t all realize that you need to drink deeply from the well of information in order to get the full picture. I want our President on late night TV and on Sesame Street. I also want my kid to read The New York Times.

The burden rests on all of us to be smart marketing consumers just as the burden rests on the President to reach out to us through every relevant channel.


No Super Bowl ad comments

February 4, 2007

Since the Super Bowl commercials will be analyzed endlessly online, I shall forgo any comments at all.

But, I was mildly disappointed at the endless series of promos for the various CBS shows (CSI, CSI:Las Vegas, CSI: Miami, CSI: Spokane, Criminal Minds, etc.). We are not big TV watchers in our house and except for the Food Network on some Sunday afternoons we never have the TV just playing in the background. Our 4 year old daughter is restricted to one show in the evening, usually Dora or Little Einsteins, or part of a movie like Mary Poppins (she just love Mary Poppins, go figure). However, for something like the Super Bowl we all enjoying watching and she is welcome to be in the room. It is a special treat for her to see something unusual. She was totally fascinated with the opening spectacle with the beautiful colors and balloons and music. But, then she was confused and clearly a bit frightened by those CBS promo spots.

I think CBS should be a more sensitive to the type of audience that the Super Bowl attracts. It is not just guys enjoying the game; it is families enjoying something on a Sunday afternoon that happens once a year. It is children like my daughter that want to hang out with their parents for a while. Must they see explosions and guns and fast cut shots of scary looking criminals? My vote is no.


No time left

January 27, 2007

I had meant to post a week ago about the season premiere of 24. Not to discuss the content of the show (which was mighty fine) but to discuss the marketing tactic they used during it. The premiere is always two nights of two hour episodes — essentially the first four hours of the season. These shows lay the entire foundation for the rest of the season, so watching them is pretty important to becoming engaged with the series.

During the final two hours of the show FOX started advertising that a DVD with the four hour premiere episodes (which we were watching) would be available the next day for $9.99 (if memory serves).

We have gotten used to TV shows appearing online as soon as they air, sometimes even before they air. What makes this so clever is the way it reaches out to the very large part of the population that is not watching video on their computer. They may have missed the show and want a chance to catch-up before the following week. FOX is reaching out to every segment to get them engaged.

It is all about reaching beyond online. We are becoming a bit obsessed with everything online.


In summary

December 29, 2005

Blogs have become the touchstone of much of the conversations I have with people. Our discourse, both online and in person, has become driven by the discourse of others.

Why isn’t there a really good solution to accessing blogs on my mobile device? Actually, why is my mobile device still trapped into feeling like a mobile device? Give me an experience that makes me feel empowered, not that makes me feel burdened.

Flat-panel TV prices are dropping fast. That leaves me with a 6 year old 40″ rear projection TV that I can’t even give away. I just keep lowering the price, but no one wants to buy it when they can buy the latest technology for not much more money. Eventually it will just go to charity if no one buys it.

I am replacing one of the TiVo boxes in my house with a DVR from Comcast. Why? TiVo can’t handle high definition TV, and that is just plain silly. So, the experiment begins with one TV and one DVR. This is a major shift for a dedicated TiVo fan like me.

Next year I want a cool new gadget. Not sure what it is, but I want it now.

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Soap Opera = Porn – Good Stuff

December 5, 2005

When I work out in the afternoon there are usually soap operas on the silent TVs in front of me (along with Oprah and Dr. Phil and ESPN and CNN). The TVs are silent because you need to tune your radio into a certain frequency to hear the sound. I don’t have either a radio or headset with me when I work out — I like the ambient noise of the gym, the music in the background, and the sound of my own labored breathing as I attempt to keep encroaching feebleness at bay.

So, I watch the soaps. I suspect that a generation will come that is so far removed from the origin of the soap opera that the term will have lost all meaning. Do people still realize that the shows were started by soap companies as a way to sell their product on radio (and then TV) by having a drama on which they could advertise exclusively? I fear not. Time leaves us with many language legacies.

As I was watching the other day — one of those endless scenes where some guy character is having some intense discussion with some gal character — I dawned I me I was watching a scene that could have been lifted right out of a high-quality porn flick (Yes, there are variations in quality amongst porn flicks. In fact, there are very specific levels of investment and the concomitant output in the porn business). The straight to video, cheesy acting, blow-dried hair, dimly lit, cheap stage scene was one I had seen a thousand times before (ok, perhaps not a thousand times). If I could have heard the sound I suspect it would have been the same simple score played behind every good porn flick.

Then it dawned on me that soaps are just porn without all the fun stuff. Or, porn are just soaps with some fun stuff thrown in. Either way, the distance between the two art forms (and I use art very liberally here, particularly as it applies to soaps) was much shorter than I ever imagined.

I am not sure either the porn actors or the soap actors would really appreciate this comparison.

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You should spend your nights like this

November 15, 2005

My current addiction.

We are nothing more than juvenile humor and endless references to our own culturally mutual past. My generation is do deeply steeped in shared pop culture that it is a wonder we are able to create anything new at all.



October 25, 2005

I was having a chat at dinner this evening about Reality TV and trying to figure out my own reasons why it is good for America. Given that the person on the other side of the chat had three TiVos (I only have two, and if I were a lesser man this would make me feel inadequate) I can’t presume to be the expert here. She clearly has expertise not yet fully understood.

However, here are some of my reasons for enjoying reality TV:

  • No premise is too absurd. I still miss The Swan (and the local woman that won the first season was amazingly hot, in a plastic surgery type of way). I believe it justifies the belief that the end is always worth the means.
  • No person is too trashy. Shame that Paris and Nicole have been cancelled. Next season would have seen them as part-time Thai hookers.
  • You can be a nanny. Do we need say more than “Super Nanny”? One episode of that was all I needed to determine I would sooner be the night busboy at Denny’s than leave my child to the care of one of these hideous beasts.
  • Good deeds. Yeah, boring.
  • Inked. Hot people having ink all over their bodies (under the skin, mind you) and the sordid tales of their lives. A fake leg is no hinderance to a hot piece of ink.
  • American Idol will be back in January.

    Some people are just a slave to TV. Some people are just a slave to more interesting things.

    I should go check the TiVo.


The Borg have arrived in my fridge

August 23, 2005

You remember the Borg, don’t you? They were the merciless aliens that wanted to assimilate humans and traveled around in geometrically perfect (cubes, spheres) ships. They all had some sort of internal RSS system going on, so Seven of Nine could know just what her buds were thinking as soon as they thought it. Geeks loved them.

Having failed to conquer Earth after several seasons on Star Trek, the Borg have clearly decided to try a new tactic. They are shipping cubes of mind altering substances to our stores and we are buying them.

The most recent example is the amazing Ice Tea Squares from Republic of Tea. I have been a long time fan of RoT for their eco-friendly and socially conscious products that taste great and are only a wee bit overpriced. These Ice Tea Squares (they are actually cubes, but geometry is not necessary for brewing good tea) come in three great flavors — Ginger Peach Decaf, Passion Fruit, and Raspberry Quince — and retail for $11.99. I found them in a local Cost Plus for 50% off, a real steal.

Next time, wine cubes!

Resistance is futile.

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Last week was my two year anniversary at Microsoft…

July 9, 2005

Last week was my two year anniversary at Microsoft. Amazing how I have gotten so caught up in that world. It really takes all my energy just to ensure I don’t get left behind.

Have you watched Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay? It is way too much fun. Even better is to watch the BBC and his Kitchen Nightmares show. The man curses like a demon and cooks like an angel. I had the good fortune to eat at one of his restaurants in London (Gordon Ramsay at Claridges) and know that he truly practices what he preaches.

The most amazing part of the show is how the aspiring cooks seem so oblivious to the simple lessons he is trying to teach. These are not stupid people, they are just stubborn people.

Ah, there is the lesson. We are all stubborn. We all suffer from the same inability to see an alternate perspective and really embrace it. We cling to the notion that our own thought processes — our own brain — could not possibly fail us. Our own intellect is ultimately the only one we can trust.

Hence, why Microsoft exhausts me.

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