Thursday, February 25, 2010

Random TV Nonsense

We start with this cartoon depiction of old-timey CSI. Outstanding.


I've been asked to write more about LOST on the blog so that certain bored librarians can pick apart these theories during slow moments at work. ("No, I don't personally know these people," Mark said. "And they're certainly not the same people I watched last week's episode and the Canada/Germany hockey game with. By the way, Heather, thanks for the chips!")

But, though these people are total strangers to me, who am I to turn down a request? I'm just pleased that one of my theories about the show (the split realities) actually looks like it's coming true. Two theories on where this alternate reality is coming from....

* It's the result of the bomb. Some might wonder why a bomb that went off in 1977 would effect things that happened in the LOST characters lives pre-1977, but remember, if the Island was sunk to the bottom of the ocean as a result of the nuke, then that sends out shockwaves that go back further in time. Remember when Juliet, Sawyer, Charlotte, Daniel, Miles and Locke were time-shifted back to the early 50's with young Charles Widmore and buried the bomb in the first place? That couldn't have happened either. So since the ripple effect goes back to at least before every Lost character was born, the alternate timeline can present us with pretty much anything involving any character. For instance, Alternate-Locke had a picture of he and his dad in his cubicle, so I'm presuming that in this reality, Anthony Cooper isn't a dirtbag conman and didn't push Locke out a window.

* It's Jacob's doing. Or, maybe it's the work of the 'new Jacob' or whomever the final candidate turns out to be. The alternate reality looks like a world where the characters never experienced the Island, so maybe the new Jacob decided to cut everyone a break and reboot reality so they can avoid the whole mess altogether. Now, the Island does exist in this reality since we saw it at the bottom of the ocean, and there are definitely hints that this reality could be in some ways faked. There was Desmond's quick appearance on the airplane, plus Jack's mysterious scratches and the fact that he inexplicably couldn't remember how he got his appendix removed as a child (when, in the 'real' timeline, Juliet took it out on the Island).

I'd guess we won't find out until near the end of the season what the alternate reality really 'is,' so we'll just have to enjoy the side stories until then. Characters like Richard and Ilana haven't even had real-world flashback episodes yet, so we've got to find out more about them in the interim. I'd also love to see the Monster get his own headline episode so we can find out what the hell his deal is, but that's another thing that might not come up until the finale. In the meantime, we just have Terry O'Quinn's increasingly awesome and creepy performance. That scene in the premiere when he tells Ben he 'wants to go home'? Scary as hell. O'Quinn is the MVP of the season thus far.


The new Kids In The Hall series, Death Comes To Town, is on hiatus for the Winter Olympics since CBC rightly presumes that nobody in Canada will be watching anything on their network during the Games. So, the break gives y'all a chance to check out the episodes thus far on the CBC website because this series is amazing. We're only five shows deep, but so far it's just as funny as the original KITH series and (given its serial nature) actually tightly-plotted. I have little doubt we're going to see a clever solution to the 'mystery' of the show.

The premise: the philandering, deadbeat mayor of a small Ontario town (called 'Shuckton,' which I'm presuming is a shoutout to me) is murdered in the wake of his failure to bring the 2028 Olympics to his town. Basically everyone in Shuckton is a suspect, and pretty much every major town figure is played by one of the five Kids. I'm glad to see that the entire cast is equally involved in the acting and writing, given that the ads made it seem like it was pretty much a Bruce McCulloch/Mark McKinney/Scott Thompson series that also included cameos from Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald just so they could promote it under the KITH name.

Who's the killer? If I had to make a pick, I'd reckon it's the deputy mayor (played by Mike Beaver, one of those Canadian actors who's in everything) simply because he seems to be the only major character that isn't played by one of the Kids. Well, the only major character aside from Rampop, the 'special' son of the mayor who sees humans as cartoon butterflies, witnesses the second murder and is also a crack shot. I'm probably a bad person for finding Rampop so funny, but sue me. Bruce's big city prosecutor character also cracks me up since he's a virtual dead ringer for my friend Ian. Between that and the Shuckton thing, I'm not sure the Kids didn't take the idea for the series simply by following me around. Wait, did I just indirectly admit to beating people to death with TV remote controls? This will get me thrown into a cell with Steve Sax.

If you're a fan of the original KITH series, you'll enjoy Death Comes To Town. There's even appearances by such classic Kids characters as the idiot cops and the Chicken Lady. Mr. Heavyfoot has yet to be worked into the plot, but if a future victim is stomped to death, we'll have our prime suspect.


Speaking of death by remote controls, many a TV series is indirectly killed when viewers use their remotes to switch to other shows. (Now THAT is a segue!) The Nielsen ratings system is one of those things that people regularly discuss and cite without really understanding how it works. I include myself in this category since I can only

* How are they collected? Do 'Nielsen families' still exist, where certain people agree to have boxes installed on their TVs that record what shows they watch? How does one become a Nielsen family? Has anyone ever known of an actual Nielsen family? How many such families are there and do they accurately represent a cross-section of the viewing public? Wouldn't a more logical way to collect ratings info in this age of DVRs and cable boxes to just automatically calculate what people are watching on them? (Though this would obviously invade privacy. And by god, if I want to watch Jersey Shore, I don't need a ratings company knowing about my guilty pleasure.)

* Do they have any relevance? This was one of the cornerstone debate points of the Conan/Leno fiasco. Leno supporters pointed to the fact that Jay's ratings as Tonight Show host were consistently higher, but Conan's supporters argued that Conan's younger audience was more apt to watch the show on the internet, or would DVR it to watch the next day. Given that it's mostly older generations who actually still sit and watch a show at its appointed time, aren't Nielsens an outdated method of finding the 18-49 market group that advertisers crave? (Nuts and Gum, together at last!)

* Sweeps Month, WTF? So, everyone knows that February, May and November are 'sweeps months' where advertisers use shows' ratings to set their advertising rates. Networks counter by scheduling big events like the Super Bowl or Olympics during these months, plus the TV season finales in May and numerous guest stars/gimmick episodes/etc. in November and February. My big question about Sweeps is why are advertisers okay with this? If these ratings are being artificially enhanced during the sweeps months, why would advertisers use them as the defining measurements of their rates? The police don't ring up Avon Barksdale and say, "We're coming by on Monday, Thursday and Saturday to check your house for cocaine," and then assume by the lack of drugs in the house on those days that Avon is an upstanding citizen. Wouldn't it make more sense to switch up the months each year, and not tell networks which months are being monitored?

Dammit, Jack Nielsen, I want some answers. Also, why did you get into the TV rating monitoring business after retiring from baseball? Are you a new-age Moonlight Graham? Do you wish you had gotten to play in the majors?


Here's the link to Chris Jones' outstanding profile of Roger Ebert, plus Ebert's own follow-up piece on his blog. Serious question: is Ebert the last film reviewer whose opinion will still mean something to the general public? No knock on, say, Owen Gleiberman or someone of that ilk, but Ebert's thumbs up still has some cache in popular culture. Ebert is even more unique given that he isn't just a critic with a gimmick --- he goes out of his way to promote independent film, highlights the history of cinema and discusses foreign films in both his books and on his website. He might literally be the last Film Critic as we know it.


Once in a while I'll make a note of something that i want to write about in further detail on the blog and yet, once I see that note later, I don't really know what to do with it. Case in point: I find a slip of paper in my wallet with a few such notes on them, one of which was just 'Lego video games, why are these popular?' That just about says it all.

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