Thoughts about TV

Colbert Jumps the Shark
Just a thought from 10 July 2006 about .

I just wanted to be the first to make a post with these phrases:

Colbert Report.
Amy Sedaris.
Jump the shark.

That is all.

What's a nice Viper deckhand like you doing in a Tiki Bar like this?
Just a thought from 6 June 2006 about , , , , .

tiki cally

Battlestar Galactica may be in-between seasons after one of the most daring cliffhangers in TV history, but that doesn't mean the characters are just hanging around waiting for Ron to call.

I may be one of the few people out there who's a member of both the Battlestar Galactica community of nerddom and the Tiki Bar TV support group, but I couldn't help but notice that Galactica's Specialist Cally (aka Nicki Clyne) showed up on the most recent episode of Tiki Bar TV as the adorable Spock-eared girl from space.

Continue reading “What's a nice Viper deckhand like you doing in a Tiki Bar like this?” »

WWSD? (What Would Swearengen Do?)
Just a thought from 19 May 2006 about .

swearengenMy friends all know that I loves me some Deadwood. The award-winning HBO western is one of my favorite shows ever, and probably only second to Sci Fi's Battlestar Galactica in my current TV obsessions.

So what a bummer it was to learn that HBO has not yet renewed the cast's contracts for a fourth season. This news has gotten the fans worried, and the inevitable Save Deadwood campaign has cropped up. I decided to let HBO know how I felt about the show, and I urge you to, too. Today I got a response that included this gem:

Continue reading “WWSD? (What Would Swearengen Do?)” »

Thanks a lot, Apple
Just a thought from 12 May 2006 about , , , .

I've used Apple computers since high school. If it wasn't for the Mac, I probably wouldn't have wound up working for newspapers, getting into the web, moving to San Francisco, and living the life I have now. I've sung the Mac's praises to friends and family for almost twenty years.

And now I know what, or more specifically who, Apple thinks I am.

warren cheswick is not me

Apple thinks I am a whiny kid who looks like he sleeps under a bridge. A kid who murmurs snidely to himself. A kid who can't grow a beard to save his life. Specifically, this kid.

Apple thinks I'm Warren Cheswick from Ed, Justin from Dodgeball, and Darry Jenner from Jeepers Creepers. All stammering awkward kids, played for a laugh.

Don't get me wrong: I think it's nice that Apple is finally touting its computers again. I just wish they could have done it in a way that didn't make me want to defenstrate my laptop and go buy a computer from that funny guy playing the PC.

"It's So Big!"
Just a thought from 12 January 2006 about , , , , .

I have to say, hearing my wife come into the living room and say, "Oh my God, it's so big," gives me a certain manly geek pride I've never quite felt before.

She also told me it was well hung.

Flickr: Phase One of Home Beautification Project Complete!

The Subliminal Reassurances of Procedural Dramas
Just a thought from 24 November 2005 about .

Bones - Don't worry, if you get killed and all that's left of you are your bones, a brilliant but socially awkward woman and a vampire with a soul will solve the crime using a combination of 3D imaging and sexual tension.

Cold Case - Don't worry, if you died a long time ago, a malnourished woman in blue light will catch the bad guy through the power of flashbacks.

Criminal Minds - Don't worry, if you're killed by a serial killer, a team of oddballs led by a brilliant but broken man will catch him with a combination of psychology, visual effects, and Bartlett's Quotations. With guest appearances by the cocky agent guy, the computer-bound nerd girl, and so-smart-he's-practically-autistic kid.

Continue reading “The Subliminal Reassurances of Procedural Dramas” »

Dear Stephen Colbert
Just a thought from 18 October 2005 about .

Hey Steve. You know I love you. I really do. Your reports on the Daily Show have been fantastic. The Week in God? Brilliant. And your voices for Harvey Birdman are my favorite part of the show. Hah hah! "Part."

But, Steve, lemme ask you a question. You know how sometimes, on Saturday Night Live, they do a sketch with some dumb joke that goes on way too long? So long that, by the end, the audience is only laughing because they think it'll make them stop?

And you know how, sometimes, the SNL people mistake that laugher for actual laughter, so they make the same joke, again and again, show after show, until finally, they're so deliriously misguided that they run out and make a movie? A full two hours of the same bad dumb joke?

And then, when the movie bombs, you know how everyone wonders, why did they ever make that piece of crap in the first place?

You know how that happens sometimes? You do? Oh, okay. Just wondering.

Both Sides Now
Just a thought from 22 August 2005 about , , .

Note: In this entry, I talk about life, death, and the conclusion of Six Feet Under. Don't read it if you don't want to know the ending of one or more.

I've loved other TV shows. I was sad to see Buffy go. I misted up at the end of Northern Exposure. But the series finale of Six Feet Under had me leaking like my kitchen sink for 75 minutes.

Here's the thing about Six Feet Under: You can't think about it without thinking about your own life. I think that's the mark of truly exceptional art.

I didn't grow up like the Fishers, but I did grow up with an unusual awareness of death. That happens when most everyone with your last name was killed in a war. My dad went on to become a clinical psychologist, and when I was young, he worked with kids who were dying of leukemia. My step-mom worked in hospice for many years. Our breakfast table conversations often mentioned what a blessing Morphine could be.

My grandmother still says to me every time I call: "Enjoy life when you're young." The second part, the one she thinks but does not say, is: "Because then you get old and die."

Everybody dies. It's the one thing you can be absolutely sure of.

Continue reading “Both Sides Now” »

Jon Stewart on The Couch
Just a thought from 20 July 2005 about , .

Jon Stewart mentioned the Bring Back The Couch Campaign on the Daily Show tonight. He said:

Apparently there is a campaign ... to bring back the couch to the program. I've got some bad news. The couch ... died. It was surrounded by family. Assorted recliners and such. It was a terrible whoopie cushion accident. But it is no more. All of us would like nothing more than to have the couch back. Just know that the couch right now is being sat on by someone else who's dead.

The couch may be lost, but then again, so are the annoying animations behind the speakers that rolled out with the new set. And tonight, the blurry background images went away, too! Was the teasing from Billy Bob Thorton last night the last straw? Whatever the reason, tonight saw the return of the humorous images in boxes that I lamented losing last week. Smells like progress.

Oh yeah, also, the show was a fantastically sharp and and hysterically funny look at the John Roberts nomination, and exactly the thing I turn to them for every night.

What? I'm a designer. First thing's first.

Jon Stewart fans prefer Minima
Just a thought from 14 July 2005 about , , .

Today I wondered what people were saying about Jon Stewart's new Daily Show set. So I did a Technorati search for "Daily Show" "Jon Stewart" "New Set" Desk Couch. The top three results were all within the last 24 hours:

  1. Jon Stewart II: What a Difference a Set Makes
  2. A couch, a couch, my kingdom for a couch
  3. But what a way to go

The funny part is, while all three present differing opinions on the new set, they all use the same Blogger template. Jon Stewart fans prefer Minima?

Personally, I love the show and trust them to evolve it according to their vision. But I agree that the new backgrounds are distracting and I kinda miss the boldness of the foreground graphic overlays. Stewart always seemed uneasy when they got the laughs, though. ("Oh you like that pun, huh? Hmph.") Backgrounding and softening them seems to detract from their humorous punch.

As for the couch, yeah, I miss it. But it always seemed like an uncomfortable layout, the way guests had to sit all scrunched up on one side, twisting their necks to face Stewart. Is say: bring back the stools from the old MTV show! (Yes, I'm a longtime fan.)

Just don't stop doing what you do, Daily Show peeps. You're the best thing on television.

UPDATE: Just saw tonight's show. Hooray for the non-moving orange background during the first half. But did you see the menacingly enlarging Newsweek cover during the interview with Michael Isikoff? I literally had to look away to avoid getting dizzy. Please, Daily Show, chill out on the motion for the sake of motion.

This Year's Girl
Just a thought from 17 February 2005 about , .

Into every generation, a pouty blond is born ...

Take Buffy the Vampire Slayer and remove the vampires, the witty dialogue, the compelling characters, and the genre-bending ideas. Add in more demons, more religion, a cast that all look like they just stepped off a runway, and give everyone utterly selfish motivations. Finally, take the girl, the pouty blond with the weight of the world on her shoulders, and remove her higher calling and replace it with a lower one. There you go: You have Point Pleasant.

If Buffy was a tale of female empowerment wrapped up in a vampire story and smothered in fantastic writing, then Point Pleasant is a female disempowerment story where the protagonist is simply buffeted from one teary moment to the next, utterly devoid of the genre aspects that allow a story to willfully diverge from reality, and smothered in people much too skinny to be real.

Which is really too bad, because the story could be a great one: The daughter of satan and a woman, with the power to do good and evil. It's much like the central tension that drove Buffy and Angel: Sometimes to do good in the world means looking at the evil in yourself. It had promise.

But while Buffy was on a quest to find her place in the world, and Angel was on a quest for redemption, Christina just seems to be on a quest to pout and make bad things happen to bad people. In fact, everyone in town seems to be so selfish and pointless, the only person I find myself rooting for is Lucas Boyd, who is, by all appearances, the villain.

Mostly, I just miss having a Joss Whedon show to look forward to. Hurry home, Serenity.

Awesomeness Galactica
Just a thought from 3 February 2005 about , .

Don't waste your time lamenting the cancellation of Enterprise - the show's been a dog since the first time that sappy theme song aired. If you want to see the best science fiction on television, watch Battlestar Galactica on the Sci Fi Channel.

When the original Star Wars movie came out, I was four years old. And yet I still remember watching it in a drive-in in Memphis, Tennessee. It may be my oldest memory - sitting in the back of my parents' car as they were watching a different movie, looking across the lot to another screen - the one with space ships and lasers on it. I was changed forever.

I was five when Battlestar Galactica hit the airwaves. One look at the spaceships and I knew this was just a horrible Star Wars ripoff. It may have been my first experience with righteous indignation. I spurned the show then and ever after. Even when my college mates watched it ironically, I resisted.

That was then.

When writer/producer Ron Moore announced that he was "reinventing science fiction" with a Battlestar Galactica mini-series on the Sci Fi Channel last year, I wrote it off as yet more bombast in a particularly bombastic medium. But then I actually watched it.

It was beautiful. Spooky. Personal. Dark. Imagine a robot that looks like a human having a conversation about God with a human scientist who's given up on his humanity. Imagine spaceships that travel silently through space with maneuvering thrusters that account for actual physics - the ships keep going when the engines go out as they would in space. And, of course, imagine menacing mechanical evil - not the cheesy Terminator kind, and not the sprawling dirty Matrix kind - a truly robotic kind, scary because of how little of it is revealed.

Fortunately for all of us who grew up with Star Wars lunchboxes, Ron Moore's vision was picked up by the Sci Fi Channel and turned into a full-fledged series this year. And it makes good on the promise of the mini-series. Of course there are spaceships and ray guns. And they're incredible. (Trivia note: The CG effects are done by Zoic Studios, the same talented folks who did amazing work on the all-too-brief Firefly series.) But the series is about more than that.

It's political (a recent storyline revolves around a rebellion on a prison transport ship). It's personal (how do relationships evolve when people are stuck on a ship for, well, ever?). It's sexy (the Amazonian blond Cylon haunting the doctor, Starbuck's memories of her long-lost lover). The list goes on.

And to make it all that much more entertaining, Ron Moore is blogging the series and responding to questions from the Sci Fi message boards. After every episode, there's a new post with some meditation on the Galactica universe, the show, and his personal experiences making and watching it. It's like DVD commentary without having to wait for the DVD. Pure fabulousness.

The show's on Friday nights on the Sci Fi channel. Don't let the transporter hit you in the butt on the way out, Archer.

Boob Tubed
Just a thought from 18 November 2004 about .

Notes from an evening spent with Comedy Central:

» Jon Stewart and Woody Harrelson: High or just giddy? I'd put money on high.

» Shorties Wathcin' Shorties is just brilliant: Take the best bits of standup comedians and put it to flash-style animation. Funny. And you don't have to watch some guy pacing around a stage.

» Drawn Together, another animated show on Comedy Central, is a faux reality show with cartoon characters borrowed from many genres. Great in-jokes for cartoon geeks like me, and plenty of bawdy humor for everyone else.

Deet do dee do dee do do
Just a thought from 31 May 2004 about .

A personal message from me to whomever created those evil Magic Mountain commercials with the tiny man in the bald mask flailing around to the best in 1999 trash dance pop:

Dear sir,

I hope that someday, somewhere, someone takes a sharpened Number Two and burrows it into your ear, ever so slowly, over the course of several days. Then, just when you get used to the pain, he starts on your eyes.

No, really. I'm sure you're very talented. It's just that you deserve to be tortured, you know, a lot, for sticking that f*cking song in my head for the last few days. You know that worm they put in Spock's ear in The Wrath of Kahn? It's like that. That worm is in my brain, and I'm screaming, and it's your fault. Hence, torture. I'm sure you get this a lot, so let's just get started, shall we?

Thanks, Derek

Vampires and Cowboys
Just a thought from 12 April 2004 about , .

I never liked vampires. The whole vampire genre, it seemed to me, was made for sex-starved girls and self-obsessed high school goths. Then I met Buffy.

Buffy the Vampire slayer, by Joss Whedon, was great television, if you haven't heard. Smart, funny, dramatic, and very very real. Yaknow, as real as a girl dusting vamps can be.

I was a closeted Buffy fan for years. I even furtively followed Angel as he left Sunnydale for his own spinoff in LA. The noir style and male protagonist finally brought me out of hiding. I was a Buffy/Angel fan. Joss Whedon was my hero. And that was okay.

Continue reading “Vampires and Cowboys” »

Talking Buffy
Just a thought from 21 May 2003 about , .

I was on Showtalkers web radio show last night, talking about the much-discussed Buffy finale and storytelling in the Jossverse. You can download the audio - I'm about 54 minutes in. Three word sum-up: Glad it's over. (Three more: Bring on Angel!)

This section is called Just a Thought. It's a blog where I post little pieces of what I'm thinking about at the moment. This page shows thoughts about TV, including:

Colbert Jumps the Shark
10 July 2006

What's a nice Viper deckhand like you doing in a Tiki Bar like this?
6 June 2006

WWSD? (What Would Swearengen Do?)
19 May 2006

Thanks a lot, Apple
12 May 2006

"It's So Big!"
12 January 2006

The Subliminal Reassurances of Procedural Dramas
24 November 2005

Dear Stephen Colbert
18 October 2005

Both Sides Now
22 August 2005

Jon Stewart on The Couch
20 July 2005

Jon Stewart fans prefer Minima
14 July 2005

This Year's Girl
17 February 2005

Awesomeness Galactica
3 February 2005

Boob Tubed
18 November 2004

Deet do dee do dee do do
31 May 2004

Vampires and Cowboys
12 April 2004

Talking Buffy
21 May 2003

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The Fine Print

Working the web since 1995, Derek Powazek is the creator of many award-winning websites, a couple of which still exist. Derek is the cofounder of JPG Magazine and the CCO of 8020 Publishing. Derek lives in San Francisco with his wife, two nutty Chihuahuas, a grumpy cat, and a house full of plants named Fred. More »

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