Being Human

I’ve always been a big fan of a lot of BBC shows. The writing is usually just “a notch above” American television, generally speaking.
My latest fixation is a BBC Three production, called Being Human. It follows three characters – a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost, trying to live “normal lives” as best they can, given their particular states of affairs.
The title is an obvious play on the fact that none of them actually are human, or in any way capable of being human. It’s only two episodes in, so far, but it’s really compelling, with a good sense of humor in the writing. It’s not available on BBC America yet, but I highly recommend looking it up on your favorite, um, web-based source of British television programming. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Time-Warner / Viacom Showdown

If you haven’t been paying attention to your TV lately (and judging from Viacom’s ratings, you probably haven’t), Time-Warner Cable and Viacom are at an impasse over the amount Viacom wants to charge TWC for its networks (including Comedy Central, Spike, the MTVs, the VH1s, Nickelodeon, Noggin, etc.) There’s a long article here with hundreds of comments from people talking about it.
The issue appears to be that Viacom wants an additional $0.25 per customer, for all of TWC’s customers. TWC’s contention is that this is a huge increase from what they pay now, that they’ll have to pass that cost along to the consumers, and that it’ll open the door for other content providers to jack up their rates and hold TWC to the fire.
Screw Viacom. Seriously? You’ve dumbed down MTV to the point of being not fit to sit my pets in front of when I go out for the day, and you want to charge more for it? How many “I Love the 80s” reruns does VH1 have to run before it suddenly spawns “value”? And don’t get me started on the crap you’re filling kids heads with on Nick and Noggin.
Turn those channels off, TWC. Seriously. I just don’t care. Make my bill go DOWN by cutting them off completely.
The most annoying people who commented in that post I linked to are the mothers who are like (and this is a direct quote here) …

Why in hell would they do this? They took a way all of the channels that kids watch on tv. When they don’t have school and are home all day in bad weather what are they supposed to watch? With no Nickelodeon or Noggin. This is crap and people need to leave Time Warner Cable.

Here’s an idea, lady, give your kids a fucking board-game. Give your kids some projects to do, outdoors. Help them build a friggin’ tree-fort. Whatever kids did for the four-thousand-fucking-years before cable TV showed up at your ignorant living room.

I have a 4 yaer old who is going to freak if she can’t watch Noggin for her alotted time each day.

Again.. why not teach your child not to rely on the idiot-box for her entertainment. Perhaps your 4 year old would love to do something else, if anyone in your house had enough imagination to suggest something different for her to do.

my 2yr old will be beside himself without his buddies on Noggin!

Maybe your kid needs real live friends instead of animated images?
Oh, my kingdom for a la carte cable. I’d just pay for the dozen or so channels I actually watch (we’d pay more for them, certainly, but at the end of the day, the net on the bill would surely go down)… but of course the cable companies have been fighting that for ages….

BBC Blocking Basic Web Content For Overseas Visitors

I’m a big fan of the BBC show Spooks. A&E aired? airs? it in the US as MI-5 but it was always a cut-down chopped-up version made to fit in US timeslots, so I’ve never really watched it that way.
For me, I wait until a given season is available on DVD in the UK, and then buy the DVD set, and import it into the US so I can watch it then. Historically, how this is worked is that I see on the BBC web site (here) that there’s a new season in the works, and then I start looking at UK DVD retailers a few months later to see if there’s a release date for the DVD set.
Having just received my Season 6 DVDs a few days ago, I decided to check in on Season 7. After all, by the time one season makes it to DVD, the next season is usually in production. That rule seems to apply the same both here and in the UK.
However, when I go to the BBC homepage for spooks, I’m instead redirected to, which tells me:


I feel like the Weekend Update folks from SNL. I just want to babble “SERIOUSLY?!!?” over and over at them. They have decided that I, as a non-UK citizen, aren’t even allowed to know about the show. No, if I want information about Spooks, I’ve got to hope Wikipedia and the DVD retailers can keep me up to date.
It’s not as though this is something based on them having sold the rights to a US broadcaster, because the Doctor Who website is alive and well for non-UK viewers.
It really does boggle the mind how much the BBC just “doesn’t get it” when it comes to the web….
UPDATE: Dan Taylor from the BBC noted in the comments that they’ve fixed the problem. Well done and thanks!

Why CBS Are Idiots

CBS really needs to learn what every other broadcast network has learned:

  • Live sporting events always run long
  • The programming which follows live sporting events should be “flexible” in its timing… give that time to the affiliates for their local news, for example.
  • If you’re not going to make it flexible timing, then you certainly don’t do your season premiere episodes soon enough after the overrun slot that you can’t have stolen back the time from the commercial sponsors

As we sat down to watch our TiVo’ed copy of this season’s premiere of Amazing Race, we realized that the first thirty minutes of the time slot was us watching some crappy 60 Minutes episode we didn’t give a wet slap about. We were still in the 9pm-10pm time-slot when we noticed this, and nothing else had started recording, so we were able to quickly tell the TiVo to grab “whatever is on CBS from 9-10”, and it grabbed everything starting at the beginning of the 30-minute live-window, from 9:07-9:37pm, but seriously, if we had decided to watch it like the next day, I’d have been pissed. (Heck, we already were a bit pissed, we missed seven minutes of footage of them traipsing about Ireland, and we’d been sort of curious to see if they went anywhere we did).
What adds insult to injury is that if CBS had “Clue One”, they’d butcher their live 60 Minutes airing… it’s fucking 60 Minutes… it’s a whole series of 15-minute news pieces. Here’s an idea, if the fucking NFL broadcast is running 30 minutes over — chop two pieces out of the 60 Minutes episode and air them NEXT week. I mean seriously, we’re not talking Quantum Mechanics here. You’ve got a program that you can slice up into manageable time-slices. Tell the on-air talent for the football broadcast “Get us to the nearest quarter hour”, and then show however many segments from 60 Minutes are appropriate. If you insist that “60 Minutes” live up to its name, don’t air it right after a live sporting event that you know will always run late!!!
Seriously, if I can sort this out, and I’m not in television professionally, you’d think that people who get paid to do it for a living would catch a ride on the Clue Bus.

Brian Williams Is Actually Funny

There was much talk and buzz on the ‘Net over the last week over NBC’s Brian Williams’ planned appearance last night as the host of Saturday Night Live. Would he be funny enough to carry it off, etc., etc.?
It’s often been observed that the more sketches the SNL writers put you in, the funnier they think you are. It came as a bit of a shock to find Williams in nearly every sketch of the evening. And better, some of the ones he wasn’t in were probably less about “how do we make that funny” but more of “that’s too low-hanging of a fruit, we can’t do that”…. For example, there was no appearance by Williams on the Weekend Update sketch. It’s simply too obvious, I know I was waiting for it, and I think D was as well. But it never came.
But throughout the evening, Williams’ sense of comedy shone through. It’s easy to see that, as was hyped, he’s been a fan of the show for 30 years. I don’t have trouble believing that’s a factual statement and not invented by some PR/Marketing lackey in the middle-floors of 30 Rock.
I hope he gets opportunities to come out of his bubble more. He’s got a lot of talents that are simply wasted on staid, boring, reading of the news.

The WGA Should Hire This Guy

Here’s Derek’s tips of the day, if you’re going to pimp yourself out as a non-union writer right before the WGA strike:

  • Learn the difference between “your” and “you’re”. For example: Your knowledge of the English language sucks moose-balls. You’re gonna be lucky if you can get hired at Arby’s if that is your idea of selling yourself.
  • You’ve just made the WGA’s point for them, in their claims that Hollywood “needs” professional Union writers, because all others are incompetent. You made it so well in fact, that I actually wonder if they shouldlhire you specifically to write ad copy for “scab writer looking for work”. It’s especially sad that you’ve made their point for them because it is so patently not-true. I know this as a fact.
  • If you’re trying to “get noticed” in Hollywood, I suspect that there are very few Hollywood executives saying “Hmmmm, let me troll Craiglist looking for anonymous unknown people I can hand off story ideas for ER to.” Are they trolling “casual encounters”? Maybe. But they’re not looking for talent there.
  • On the off-chance that you do get a job… good luck keeping it. Eventually, the WGA folks will come back, and not only will you not be employed any more, but you’ll have caught enough attention as a scab writer that they’ll blackball you for future work. You need to be a teensy bit more subtle and under the radar than that my man. The WGA knows people like you exist, but really can’t be bothered to chase after you unless you do something to draw attention to yourself like, say, post a really poorly written ad on Craigslist that gets mentioned on a bunch of blogs….

We now return you to the last of your scripted programming….

The Worst Time For Your Product To Fail

D and I have the Time-Warner provided Scientific Atlanta 8000HD hi-def DVR cable box. When we first got it, it was the only way to get HD cable DVR service. Our existing TiVo couldn’t do hi-def, was single tuner, etc. The only HD TiVos that were out there were for satellite or for over-the-air, neither of which was useful to us.
We toyed with getting a new Series3 TiVo a couple times in the last few weeks. We both missed the TiVo interface — its ease of use, the way it always “just worked” for us…. But it always came down to “Is now the right time to do this? The Time-Warner box is doing the job, even if we don’t like it all that much,” especially with a list price of $800 for the box.
Two years, and two cable-boxes later, it had started to act… quirky. Just the other day it mysteriously deleted some programming way before it was necessary to do so. But still we persevered. Maybe there was some bizarre “pre-delete” logic happening. After all, it had about six hours of hi-def programming scheduled for the following evening as it would be recording a whole bunch of finales.
Fast forward a little bit to this evening…. The unit has a whopping total of three hours of low-def programming stored on it, set to “do not delete”. It had another two hours of today’s programming (D has a daily recording of Dr. Phil and Oprah), neither of which had been watched yet. It has held a lot more on it. Tons.
It had two simple tasks:

  1. Record American Idol Finale.
  2. Record Lost Finale.

As we were watching Idol (on delay), around 9:06 I decided to sanity-check the “currently recording” list… and found it NOT recording Lost. Worse, when I quickly bailed out of the “watching the recorded A.I.”, and jumped to ABC-HD live, no matter how much I told it to record it, and it said “OK”, it failed to do so. It continued to show “Lost 9:00-11:00” in the “Scheduled Recordings” column, but completely failed to act on it. Also, the Oprah and Dr. Phil episodes were gone, deleted as thought it needed room for them, but that couldn’t possibly have been the case.
I told D I was going to watch Lost in HD, Live, while Idol recorded, since it was recording Idol. Five minutes into this, though, I realized I would never hear the end of it if we watched Lost live, and she lost her Idol finale because of the flaky box. So I retired to the office to watch Lost live (giving D updates every commercial… again Lost is more “my” show than hers, but she has a passing interest in it). D is now out in the living room watching Idol on delay. We keep each other updated on “what’s going on”. It’s pathetic and annoying but the only option this piece of junk has left us with.
And so I decided there and then that — when we get back from the honeymoon — that piece of shit is heading out the door and TiVo is getting some cash from us. It’s just that simple.
You put a lot of trust in a DVR. You trust that you can leave it to record your shows and they’ll be there when you get home. The Time-Warner box betrayed that trust at the worst possible time, and signed its own death warrant in the process.

There’s No Crying In Counterterrorism

What the hell did those Chinese bastards do to Jack Muthafuckin Bauer, eh? He breaks down crying cuz he had to shoot somebody? Christ, wasn’t it just last season that he executed a fellow CTU employee just to have a chance at getting some information, and now he gets all skinned-knee girly-crying because he had to shoot Curtis in the shoulder?
I thought Jack was back, better than ever, last night, when he went all The Lost Boys on that guy, ripping his carotid artery out with his bare teeth, but now he’s gone completely 180ยบ in reverse, pansy-style.
Also, seriously, a note for future government officials – Jack Bauer is never fucking wrong. Any time you find yourself wanting to second-guess him, could you please just remember that he’s saved the world more times than you’ve had sex, and quite probably he’s saved your life, personally, at least once. And every time a government official has ever doubted him, it’s always made the government look incompetent. SO, if you find yourself doubting him, just remember that the last fifty or so government officials to doubt him looked like retards later.
D and I were joking that “every time Jack crawls out of whatever hole he’s been in, the world goes to hell,” and that if I were President, there’d be an executive order that “If Jack Bauer turns up on the radar, today is an excellent day to test whether the NAOC is really fully functional, and to get me there toot-sweet.
All that said, though, it looks like it’s gonna be a really exciting “day”.