TV is Dead... Long Live TV

Mmmm, TV is good.
Has TV changed so much as to make the traditional TV season unrecognizable, even irrelevant? You can buy whole seasons of shows only months after they air and watch them in order, without repeats, without the long delays that puncture the usual season.

Add to that the ability to buy and download commercial free versions of shows like Lost the day after they are broadcast. (Of course it's not available here in Canada yet, leaving us only the free, illeagal method - when will they learn?)

The question becomes, why watch when the networks want you too? Why not wait until the whole season comes out and buy them all in one shot? The problem is you still need to hold off until the entire season is broadcast, even if you managed to download it.

Secondly, you miss the pop culture bliss of talking about the show while it's on, telling others about it and having something to rattle on about at parties and bars. Programs may not hold the same communal power they did when there was less than a dozen channels, but people still chat about their favourite shows and we all have TVs to check them out for ourselves.

Of course one needn't wait, what with time shifting and and glorious PVR. It is, as Dose points out, the death of the timeslot, not the death of the season.

Hitting the Ground Like Sacks of Wet Cement

What is it about the music industry that makes it act like turkeys being tossed out of an airplane? It seems it is their reluctance to allow DVDs to use music without attaching an exorbitant price tag is leaving some classic shows sitting on the shelves.

That's what's happening to WKRP in Cincinnati, which used so much classic rock on the show that it would cost a small fortune to clear all the rights -- far more than could ever be recouped by the DVD sales. It also mean that some shows, WKRP and others don't even get to use the original music in the reruns. Seems that even Married... With Children can't use it's distinctive Frank Sinatra theme song anymore due to the cost.

Now I haven't been sitting here pinning for 'KRP, as much as I love watching Johnny Fever taking the drinking and driving reaction test, but it occurs to me that the license owners are just throwing away money asking for too much of it up front. If they are older songs (and in the case of WKRP they most certainly are) then having the show on DVD or even in reruns could introduce the music to new fans.

It happens in commercials all the time. How many people got turned on to Nick Drake when VW used Pink Moon in a commercial? It wasn't like his music was being played anywhere else. But it seems unlikely that the industry will see the light, as they still have their heads in the sand about downloads.


It's that time of the year where lists are appearing more often than your friends ask you what you are doing on New Year's Eve.

I've never been one for lists - mostly I'm too lazy - but it's hard not to get sucked into the pop culture nostalgia (remember last month? That was so cool!) and the keeping up with the neighbours (is my list hip enough?) that comes with them. So who am I to buck a trend? So here are my Top 10 Albums of 2005, with limited commentary:

1. Beck – Guero
A great combination of the of his last two albums, Sea Change and Mutations with a little of Odelay thrown in. It was as if he got over his melancholy and decided to go on a road trip with the top down. Breezy coolness.

2. The White Stripes – Get Behind Me Satan
I just can’t get enough of Jack White. Whether he’s singing about his doomed relationship with Rene Zellweger in Little Ghost or taking on celebrity culture in Take, Take, Take, he’s got this non-dancer toe tapping along.

3. Stars – Set Yourself On Fire
“When there’s nothing left to burn, you’ve got to set yourself on fire.” Just like this Montreal band and the rest of the scene.

4. Spoon – Gimmie Fiction
5. The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema
6. The Bravery – The Bravery
7. Wolf Parade – Apologies to the Queen Mary
8. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
9. Stephen Malkmus – Face the Truth
10. The Deadly Snakes – Porcella

Of course my other reason to make this list is to point you all to, which has the list to end all year end lists.

Shaken and Stirred

I'd been talking about the future of the James Bond franchise with a couple of friends yesterday and then stumbled across this shot from Casino Royale of Daniel Craig as the new 007 and had to share.

As those who have read me before are aware, I'm a bit of a Bond junkie. We were talking about what needs to change to keep the series fresh, and what should never be touched. You can't touch the theme music, the opening shot through the barrel of the gun, or Bond's nationality. But after that, it's pretty much fair game.

The Bourne series has set the current bar for super spies and the 007 films could use a little of that hard-nosed, can-do, quiet intensity. Die Another Day went some of the distance, showing a Bond that wasn't infallible or unrumpled. I hope they continue, lest the quips and double entendres turn the series into Austin Powers-lite.

And choosing Casino Royale seems to indicate that they are serious. This was Ian Flemmings first Bond novel so it appears the producers are looking at their roots. As part of that, the characters of Q and Moneypenny won't be in the next film as they weren't in the book, according to

The film will also deal with "...a lot of 'embryonic stuff' about why Bond prefers his martini 'shaken, not stirred,' and why he favors the Aston Martin sports car." So it looks like they are going the route most recently taken by Batman Begins and reinventing an overly familiar figure. I can't wait.

But Don't You Wish It Were True?

Have you ever wondered what really happened to Dave Chappelle? It looked like he had it all – a hot show, the mantle of “It” comedian taken from Chris Rock and Comedy Central dropping $50-million on him to keep doing his thing.

Then faster than you can say “I’m Rick James, bitch!” he lost it and headed to a South African mental institution (maybe) and the third season of his show was out on indefinite hiatus.

Or maybe a cabal of influential black entertainers and politician destroyed his career. That’s what’s being suggested at The Chappelle Theory, which says Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson, Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg:
“…felt Chappelle's Show reinforced negative stereotypes about African Americans, and that its content was, in the words of group leader Bill Cosby, ‘setting race relations back 50 years.’”
It’s great stuff, a fantastic conspiracy theory. It started floating about the web last week and got picked up by blogs like Defamer and the like. It turns out that it is either a clever piece of viral marketing for the next season of the Chappelle show that is being cobbled together out of left-over skits, or the opening salvo of a new satire site. Or it’s actually true.

Either way, I love it. Make up your own mind.

The False Modesty Awards

I'm sure many actors do what the do for the love of the art and some of those manage to slip through the system and become successful. But I'm also sure by the time you're at the level where you are getting nominated for awards for major studio work, you've been sucked into the system. Meaning that once you have a publicist, manager and a studio placing "For Your Consideration" ads for your role, you probably know when the nominations are coming out

With that in mind, let me present the leading nominee for the most false modesty by a Golden Globe nominee, Sarah Jessica Parker, who told People:
"I was getting my son ready for school. I didn't even know about the nominations. Happily, I was ignorant and carrying on about the day, as mothers do."
Yeesh, Sarah, you're trying far too hard to look like you're above it all. Get a little more excited, I don't expect you'll be getting many more nominations between now and the inevitable "Sex and the City" reunion show.

Is Bomb Spelt K-O-N-G?

Only in Hollywood would making $146 million over five days be seen as a failure. But that's exactly what the makers of King Kong are facing after their debut this weekend.

I try not to get sucked into the false economies of major moviemaking and it's spread into entertainment journalism, but when I see headlines like "Hollywood moguls beat their chests as Kong takes a dive," I just can't help myself.

The budget for the film was kingly on its own - a whopping $207 million -- but it has already recouped close to three quarters of that worldwide after its first weekend. Now box office often, almost inevitably, drops the following weekend as new films open and the massive multiplexes have satiated the publics pent up desire to see the film.

But Kong's three hour running time, which has been cited as one of the reasons for the "low" numbers, is a reason that the movie could keep growing, as those who couldn't make one of the showings last week head to the theatres on the good word of mouth. And who decided that three hours is too long for a movie anyway? Seems more of an economic decision than an artistic one. I think there should be more, while a few should probably have a half hour or more edited out of it. Either way, it should be based on the content, not how many screenings can be squeezed into an evening.

As a film fan, that all I really care about. Is the flick any good? I'll leave the rest to the economists and the statistic obsessed.

I've Seen the Future...

There's nothing like a December movie to see what the studios are hyping for next year:

Miami Vice: I've been wondering how they were going to treat this remake of the oh-so-80s TV show. Were they going to go the Brady Bunch route and go campy or update it like the Dukes of Hazzard? Turns out they are going completely serious, or at least that's how it appeared -- there wasn't any dialogue. But Colin Farrell sure glowered a lot in his bad mustache.

Mission Impossible 3: It's still hard to watch Tom Cruise without thinking about his couch-hopping, Katie-Holmes-kidnapping self. He just looks crazy. Of course, by the summer I'll be ready for a big, dumb popcorn flick. Oh, except that summer starts the first week of May now, according to Hollywood. Yeesh, what's the rush?

The Poseidon Adventure: Oh great, another remake. Mind you, I was watching King Kong, so I suppose I shouldn't have expected anything less. Note to marketers -- it's a little tacky to be showing a trailer where a giant wave endangers a group of people at the same time the media is rehashing the the one year anniversary of the south-Asian Tsunami. Just a thought.

Under New Management

Thanks to Michelle of Scriberoptics for passing along this blog address and letting me relaunch my blog. My many thanks to her, always.