Category: television


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It takes a lot to get me to have any interest in any television program that I haven’t been a long time fan. -But I was stuck in a car and indluging in my obession with NPR.  There was a very interesting interview with creator Ryan Murphy, who is best know for his series Nip Tuck. 

I noticed the show’s premiere episode was available on Hulu. It seemed like fate. Coming in expecting very little, I am sorry to say overall I was disappointed. The problem I have with the show is a fairly common: the characters are blantant stereotypes of their subculture.  I can’t really blame the series for that because nearly every show does that. But none of the characters seemed really interesting enough to continue following.

The two lead students Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith) and Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) have tremedous singing talent. I specify “singing” because the show flauters elsewhere. The acting was a little over the top which definitely should not phase those willing to stick around after American Idol.

I am willing to give it a second chance but part of me is wishing the show could be condensed into a ten minute preview of the casts’ singing, not that this world needs another American Idol. 

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Negative campaign ads never sit well with viewers but it does bring some interesting issues to light. Although the public generally despises this tactic it is increasingly popular with candidates and thought to be highly effective.

This election the mudslinging started when Hillary Clinton released a commercial knocking Barrack Obama refused to debate her in Wisconsin. Obama has for the most part has taken the high road against Hillary Clinton. Clinton has used various negative tactics from associating Barrack with Muslim groups, portraying him as a radical, and exposing dealing with NAFTA after he previously criticized the trade agreement in a debate.

The reports concerning NAFTA may have hurt Barrack in Tuesday’s caucuses and primary elections. The results lead Clinton to believe the two maybe running on a joint ticket, with her as the top runner.

A survey from the Project on Campaign Conduct showed that viewers are weary of negative campaigns and tend to distrust politicians (big surprise there).

  • 59% believe that all or most candidates deliberately twist the truth.
  • 39% believe that all or most candidates deliberately lie to voters.
  • 43% believe that most or all candidates deliberately make unfair attacks on their opponents. Another 45% believe that some candidates do.
  • 67% say they can trust the government in Washington only some of the time or never.ObamaClinton
  • 87% are concerned about the level of personal attacks in today’s political campaigns.

Voters hate the prospect of these ads but unfortunately they have been proven time and again to be highly effective. UCLA professor of Psychiatry, Dr. Marco Iacoboni completed brain imaging research from the 2004 presidential campaign. The results showed that viewers lost empathy for the candidate they supported once the person was attacked.

I can’t have an article on political ads and not at least link to the most controversial political ad, this one dates back to the Johnson vs. Goldwater from 1964. I think this one relates heavily to the Clinton ad posted above. -Same strategy just 44 years later.

SNLDebateSaturday Night Live’s debate sketch featuring a furious Clinton and idolized Obama brought up controversy for the candidates and the show. SNL came back on the air after a three month hiatus due the the writer’s strike. The SNL cast proved they were ready to jump right into the political scene.

The democratic race is really close and may have candidates looking for every opportunity to state their case. Senator Hillary Clinton used an SNL skit as an example of how the media presents a bias toward Obama. Clinton felt she was not receiving equal treatment at the debate held in Texas this month. Clinton told moderators, “In the last several debates I seem to get the first question all the time, I don’t mind. I’ll be happy to field it. I just find it curious if anybody saw `Saturday Night Live,’ maybe we should ask Barack if he’s comfortable and needs another pillow.” The Daily Show took it a step further this week when they joked that Clinton’s paranoia was not wrong as they reported from Anti-Hillary HQ.

Tina FeySNL tried to level the playing field when host Tina Fey pledged her support for Clinton. Fey stated that while Hillary may be considered a bitch, “Bitches got things done, yo, and that’s why Hillary would be a good president. So I’m sayin, it’s not too late, Texas and Ohio, get on board! Bitch is the new black!”

The idea of media bias may have to do with celebrities sharing their opinions with the press. Obama has definitely rallied a lot of celebrity backing. Everyone from Oprah Winfrey, Matt Damon and comedian Stephen Colbert have pledged their support along with a slew of others. While Hillary has her own list of supporters she also sports a short list of celebrities willing to come out against her for her stance on the Iraq war. I expect (and hope) voters rely more on a candidate’s presentation or stance on a particular issue than celebrity testimony. I am sure celebrity endorsements makes a difference to some though. It may simply be a matter of exposure. Celebrities can reach an audience not normally tuning into debates or the nightly newscast. It is like the old saying, ‘no press is bad press’.

FredSNL is also in the forefront for casting actor Fred Armisen from Chicago in the role of Obama. The choice has some viewers up in arms. Bloggers argue that the role should have gone to one of the casts many black actors.

The media backlash is a bit of a surprise considering this is a common trend for SNL. Darrell Hammond played Reverend Jesse Jackson and Billy Crystal was cast as Sammy Davis Jr. Crystal’s impersonation is considered the most flawless in SNL history.

This is just SNL up to their old tricks. Is it wrong? -Probably. Is it offensive? -To some. I’d be really interested to hear what people had to say about his performance and whether the actor’s race really makes a difference.

Truth 1Recent “Moment of Truth” contestant Lauren Cleri maybe heading for divorce because of her honesty. The show is a new low for television. USA Today said it correctly when they stated, “[Fox Reality] pursues bad taste with a zeal unrivaled in the industry”.

The show pits contestants against a polygraph and they are rewarded for telling the truth. That is fine and dandy but contestants have led anything but exemplary lives. They have cheated on their spouses, stole from their jobs, admitted to gambling problems and much more.

Contestants are so mesmerized by the chance to be on television and the thought of half a million dollars that they are willing to embarrass themselves and put themselves in ruin. Players do not consider that fact they could lose their jobs, their spouse or worse. The crowd could tell Monday that Cleri was going to be honest even if it ended her two year marriage to Frank Cleri. Host Mark Walberg even asked the contestant to stop but who knows if that is a genuine plea or merely a part of his job.

cleri momentContestants know what they are signing up for and should hardly act surprised about the results. According to an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “Contestants’ friends and family are interrogated thoroughly. “They research your whole life,” says Christie Youssef, 22, who admitted she’s a virgin in the second episode. “I didn’t have any idea of the scope until afterward.”

All the questions are answered in advance when the player is connected to a polygraph. Contestants are just not aware of the results. They also have to put up with shocking twist, like when Cleri was read a question by her ex, Frank.

A polygraph is not a perfect tool that magically detects lies. While the lie detector is hardly flawless it is the best tool available but still should not be considered by any means a mind reader. New York polygraph expert Joel Reicherter explained how the machine worked in an article with The Columbian. Essentially, the polygraph monitors whether a person is trying to “‘beat the test by clenching muscles. The collected data is fed into the examiner’s laptop computer and charted. The program includes a comprehensive database of medications that affect the test, so those can be factored.”

Players unfortunately seem to be getting themselves into more trouble by admitting to the truth rather than merely attempting trying to beat the test.

Hopefully predictions about the show are correct and it will be pulled because of faltering ratings.

Jon Stewart did a decent job at the 80th annual Oscars last night but certain segments made me wonder if some of the sketches were built in plugs.youtube-iphone.jpg

Jon Stewart had some funny moments at the Academy Awards. He nailed a lot of jokes, excelling of course with his trademark political humor. He was gracious during the ceremony. He even ushered singer Marketa Irglova back on stage for her acceptance speech for the song “Falling Away” from Once after she was abruptly cut off.

He seemed quite taken back by new technologies though. Stewart was featured watching Lawrence of Arbia on his iPhone. He battled 11-year old singer, Jamia Simone Nash, from August Rush in a game of Wii Sports tennis.

Engadget readers are left to debate whether the skits were merely a paid for advertisements or a celebration of new technology and pop culture.

The iPhone may have been a tool to make fun of some of the petty arguements that were center stage during the writer’s strike. Essentially studios and writers were fighting over profits from downloads that may end up on iPhone’s 4 1/2 by 2 1/2 inch screen.

Neither Nintendo or Apple were official sponsors of the Academy Awards. A list of sponsors included American Express, Coca-Cola, General Motors, L’Oréal, Mars, Mastercard, McDonald’s, J.C. Penney, ad firm Procter & Gamble, and Unilever. I am curious how Apple and Nintendo managed to sneak their way on the show.

I guess, good for them. They got the perfect promotion spot and waived the reported $1.8 million advertising fee. The commercials during the Oscars are only second to the Super Bowl in price.

Javier Bardem, Best Supporting Actor, for No Country for Old Men dedicated his Academy Award to his mother. He added in a small thanks in Spanish for her. I figured I would translate it for those who do not have the advantage of three years of high school Spanish under their belts (or an online translator).

Original Acceptance Speech:

bardem.jpgWow. Alright, this is very amazing. It’s a great honor for me to have this. I want to I have to speak fast here, man. Thank you to the Coens for being crazy enough to think that I could do that and put one of the most horrible haircuts in history over my head.

Thank you for really proving my work. I want to share this with the cast, with the great Tommy Lee Jones, with the great Josh Brolin, with the great Kelly MacDonald. And I want to dedicate this to my mother, and I have to say this in Spanish, and I’m sorry…

2008_bardemj_02.jpgMama esto es para ti. Esto es para tus abuelos, para tus padres, Rafael y Matilde. Esto es para los comicos de Espana que han traido la dignidad y el orgullo a nuestro oficio.

Esto es para Espana. Y esto es para todos vosotros.

Thank you very much!”

Translated:

“Mom this is for you. This is for your grandfathers, for your parents, Rafael and Matilde. This is for the Spanish comics that have brought the dignity and the pride to our position.

This is for Spain. And this is for all you”.

Every Fall a new lineup of shows emerge which audience can pick their favorites including the quirky Arrested Development. Although, some are innovative shows that break free from the sitcom formula they have little chances for survival.

Arrested DevelopmentTV execs are now relying on turning shows that have some cult appeal directly to DVD, on demand or online venues. When shows that have a loyal following slump in the ratings producers purposely cancel the show with plans to later release it.

In an interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Paramount Home video Vice President of Publicity, Martin Blyth said, “There’s no question that studios are running out of catalog theatrical movies to release. There are only so many special edition revisits you can do. Television catalog in addition to the new television product is taking up the slack.”

There is further hope for the future of one tragically missed series, Arrested Development. Fans cry out for rumors of a movie version to come true. MSNBC’s host Keith Olbermann even got into the action with his segment “Come On”.

rs997american-idol-judges-rolling-stone-no-997-april-2006-posters.jpgTelevision has been invaded by a complete lineup of reality shows like American Idol. Reality programs bought the studios some time during the writers strike but everyone can already sense the trend will continue. Studios like the cheaply ran options like American Gladiators and only have to spend money on a select few programs.

A couple of series have created a dynasty that I am afraid will never die. American Idol continues its seventh season manufacturing another set of pop icons. Big Brother starts its ninth season doing whatever it does, what that is I am still not sure. Survivor may be running out of exotic hot spots. My bet is they will soon have to send the guests to Survivor Disneyland.

office-with-toby.jpgSitcoms have had a fair run but the market for new ones is quickly dying out. 30 Rock and The Office have a stronghold in the genre. Those two cant hold it down forever.

Sitcoms for the most part have become formulaic drones. I am just hoping for a third comedic option. Don’t make me choose between the two anymore.

I feel like I am stuck in the middle of Idiocracy. Soon we will all be laughing at the hit program Ow! My Balls!.