Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

Sat 30 Oct 2010 3:34 pm   //   Posted in: In the news, Media, TV

Some thoughts on the Jon Stewart speech

I just finished watching the broadcast of Comedy Central’s “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” from Washington D.C. I think a lot of people weren’t sure what to make of it (Is it serious of funny? Political or agnostic? Cynical or sincere?) but I thought of it as a smart marketing promotion for two very good TV shows, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. And as expected, the rally came off as a funny and well-produced live variety program.

The YouTube Moment came at the end, when Jon Stewart devoted about 10 or 15 minutes to a serious speech. He spoke about how, unlike what you see on cable TV news and in Washington politics, Americans are mostly people who work together to solve problems.

On a windblown stage on a sunny afternoon, Stewart tried to make himself the voice of reason in American media. I think he succeeded, but in doing so I’m worried he ignored the role that passion—irrational, rude, confrontational passion—plays in making American work.


Thu 26 Aug 2010 8:00 am   //   Posted in: Media, TV

The new disinformation

Last week a survey that found 18% of Americans, when asked to name Barack Obama’s religion, incorrectly said he is Muslim. That’s up from 11% in 2009.

How could a growing number of people get a basic fact so wrong? I don’t believe it’s because 18% of Americans are fools. I think it’s because we are just beginning to see the effects of a radically new way of communicating. The strategy involves a mix of broadcasting and the Internet. Here’s the formula:

Mon 24 May 2010 10:40 pm   //   Posted in: Review, TV

“Lost” and the dawn of the criticism-proof TV show

“Lost” was the only TV series I’ve ever watched start-to-finish as it aired. The finale yesterday was superb television—keeping the mystery alive, adding a few life lessons to chew on, and remaining a textbook study in how to craft a powerful narrative from pictures, words, sound effects and (especially) music.

Wed 6 Jan 2010 8:09 am   //   Posted in: Technology, TV

Nobody wants to see “Jersey Shore” in 3-D

Item! ESPN and Discovery launching 3-D TV networks.

There’s lots of buzz this week about 3-D TVs at CES. I don’t buy the hype. Here are 5 reasons 3-D TV is a non-starter.

1. The Internet. Barring any huge leap forward in technology, 3-D video (which requires a steady, high frame rate) is incompatible with Internet streaming (which adjusts frame rates depending on your connection speed). As such, 3-D TV is a naked ploy by the entertainment industry to push viewers back toward buying DVDs and cable subscriptions, rather than enjoying free online video. It won’t work. Trying to steer the freeloaders back to paid video once they’ve figured out Hulu and Netflix and torrents is pushing water uphill.

2. Glasses. Nobody has solved the 3-D glasses problem. Are you and your buddies going to hang around a sports bar watching football, drinking beer, eating wings, while wearing identical sets of flimsy plastic glasses? No. Glasses are for squares.

3. Production costs. It’s waaay more complicated and more expensive to produce TV shows in 3-D than in 2-D. Amateurs can’t do it. But for years, the trend toward digital video has meant cheaper TV shows, often with user-submitted content. This has been both good (CNN’s iReport) and bad (“Jon & Kate Plus 8”) but there’s no sign that really expensive television is due for a rebound.


Wed 25 Nov 2009 8:44 pm   //   Posted in: New York is different, No right to be good, TV

Giving thanks for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

High school bands. Lip syncing. Matt Laurer. Yeah, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is cheesy. Three hours of schlock is hard to take. It fills a lazy block of holiday morning time, when most of us have slept in late and, at best, have just begun to preheat the oven and chop yams. Still wearing our slippers and sipping coffee, we feel sorry for the NBC people who had to wake up early and go to work. Many adults find the parade telecast boring, and it’s doubtful any Pixar-raised child could invest more than 10 minutes in it.

But the Macy’s parade delivers a single, visual quality that towers (literally) over the sloppy choreography and humiliating celebrity appearances. The balloons! Round and colorful, they bob like hallucinations past the flat, stone edifices of the city. Tiny ants at the ends of guylines ease these cartoon behemoths around the corners of Midtown office buildings. The feat has become so routine—this is the parade’s 83rd year—that our eyes miss seeing it for the remarkable spectacle it is.

Some of my earliest, dimmest impressions of New York—before I ever visited the city—are of the Macy’s parade on TV. At no point did I ever imagine being there. As childhood impressions go, New York City was similar to the Land of Oz—vivid, fun and purely fictitious.

Now this is my 8th November in New York. I have never actually been to the parade, since I always travel to Maryland to spend Thanksgiving with my family. But I always catch a few minutes of the parade on TV, or I see the photos later. Don’t let familiarity spoil how cool those images are. Balloons and buildings, speaking to one another: A pairing of color and monochrome, soft and hard, fleeting and permanent. The Macy’s balloons are a perfect artistic response to the canyons of Manhattan.

Wed 30 Sep 2009 8:10 am   //   Posted in: Media, TV

Fox & Frenemies

Item! A gym patron in Columbia, Maryland, named Ann Geddes (not the photographer!) is trying to get her gym to remove Fox News from the TV lineup in the exercise room. The Baltimore Sun.

Geddes and I disagree on this point. As I wrote back in November, I enjoy watching Fox News at the gym because it makes me angry, and anger helps me exercise harder!

Since November, however, I have changed my mind about something I wrote.


Mon 16 Mar 2009 7:44 am   //   Posted in: TV

You are number six

If you’ve never seen the 1960s TV show “The Prisoner,” now is the time: AMC is streaming all 17 episodes for free here. (A remake of the show is supposed to air on AMC this summer.)

Be seeing you!

Sun 15 Feb 2009 5:33 pm   //   Posted in: Media, TV, Videos

Stephen Colbert gives me a hat tip

Ever wonder where The Colbert Report gets all that source material for their show? From reporters like me. A story I wrote got the briefest of mentions on The Colbert Report Thursday night. Watch the clip below for the story with the “PDN” logo at the top of it. That’s mine. These things happen once and a while and it’s nice, though it’s not really why I do my job.

(If you can’t view the clip above, you can watch it here, at about the 1 minute mark).

Sun 8 Feb 2009 8:20 am   //   Posted in: TV, Videos

Bustin’ five knots

I’m on a boat! ‘Nuf said!

Mon 10 Nov 2008 7:25 am   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, TV

Cool location shoot in my neighborhood

“Flight of the Conchords” comes to the Slope Wednesday: No parking!

(These signs were up around 5th Ave and 13th.)