with 'television' tag

constraints programming

(i wrote this a long time ago, but it was just saved as a draft.)

i watched the first (last, and only) season of wonderfalls, and it is wonderful. it is basically a romantic comedy that gets mixed in with various other genres from week-to-week.

fox seems to be making a habit of putting bullets in the head of some really good shows, but i think they deserve some credit for putting those shows on in the first place. i’d say they are the broadcast network with the greatest range right now, from the second-tier reality shows like skating with celebrities to arrested development and house.

here’s a television show idea to plug into two popular trends: short series and real-time series. a workplace comedy (dramedy?) that takes place over the course of a workday. as a one-hour show, running from 8am to 6pm gives you a ten-episode series (or you could stretch it a bit, do it as a half-hour, and run from 8am to 7pm as a 22-episode season).

house at the penthouse

a few months ago, they shot some scenes for house at my fiancée celia’s penthouse at the alexandria hotel. this is a screen grab from the episode (actually from the beginning of the second part of the two-episode story). part of the penthouse was made up to be a cop’s apartment. so for that setting, they shot basically everything at the penthouse except for the rooftop enclosed greenhouse where he was growing weed.

this is how it looked on television — celia has shots she took of the penthouse with all the stuff they used to make it look like a ratty cop’s apartment, and i’m sure she’ll post them once she digs out from under the project she’s currently buried underneath.

there were a couple of scenes where characters climbed out of a window to get on to the roof outside. there is a door about five feet to the left of that window.

no yellow brick road

i’ve finally caught up with the first five seasons of oz, and now join the list of people waiting for the sixth and final season to make it to dvd. so far, season four has been my least favorite (aging pill? wtf?), and the first season is probably the strongest. but at this point, i’ve committed enough hours to watching that i definitely want to see how it all ends up.

there are a lot of great characters in the series, and some good story arcs, but sometimes the episodes are a little too disjoint, with storylines that are so distinct that there’s little reason for them to be in the same episode. that’s made even more clear when listening to the commentary on the last episode of season five, where they talk about how one of the storylines in that season was originally part of season four, and some of the scenes actually shot during that season but held over until near the end of season five.

thirty-second stories

the downside to watching live football games is having to see the same commercials over and over again. but one commercial i keep seeing that i actually like is the dockers commercial set in san francisco. it’s a great confluence of perfect music, a beautiful setting, and a nice little story.

if companies were smart, they would put good versions of their ads up on their websites. you can view a tiny, crappy version of the dockers ads on their site, or there’s a better link to one of the versions in the sfist article. i’d imagine that the cost of putting it online would be a drop in the bucket compared to actually getting it on the air, and there’s a chance you will actually get people seeking out your commercial.

it can also be entertaining to spot the commercials shot in downtown los angeles. it seems like at least half of the car commercials that show any sort of urban setting are shot here, and about half of those include shots within a few blocks of my apartment.

back for more

shooting the sky

the heist crew is back for more, and this time they brought a helicopter. it’s not clear to me if they are shooting the helicopter or the ground, because they had this crew on the ground, and the helicopter clearly has a camera mounted on it.

doug liman on location

doug liman and others

i’ve started collecting some of my shots of the shoot of the heist pilot into a set. and that’s not the actress i wrote about earlier.

doug liman is the director of the pilot for heist. he directed the movie go, the pilot for the o.c. (which explains my temptation to yell “welcome to downtown, bitch!” out the window), and a bunch of other stuff i’m too lazy to look up.

bomb squad entering bank

bomb squad entering bank

it’s comforting to have a fake bomb squad entering the fake bank across the street. this is for the pilot of heist.

when i was coming back from the gym this morning, there was a cute actress/extra that was totally checking me out. but i could be wrong. i’m not very good at picking up on that sort of thing, so this was either so obvious even i couldn’t miss it, or something else entirely. for the sake of my self-esteem, i’ll assume it was the former.

cute as a pail full of kittens

heist is almost exactly what you would expect from a movie of that title from david mamet. gene hackman and danny devito are brilliant, but so is all of the supporting cast, such as ricky jay (who had most of my favorite lines).

the plot is probably the weakest element, but the more i think about it, the better it is. i was expecting a little more flash, but i think the film really pulls off a more moderate and realistic heist.

the dialogue crackles, of course. one particularly great line: “My motherfucker is so cool, when he goes to bed, sheep count him.”

in an odd bit of serendipity, today (and tomorrow?) they’re shooting scenes in my neighborhood for the pilot of heist, a possible 24/prison break/the wire/murder one-style series about a jewelry heist that unfolds over a season. they’re using the farmers & merchants national bank.

speaking of murder one, they finally released the first season and the second (last) season on dvd.

traffik is the 1989 british television miniseries that steven soderbergh’s film traffic was derived from, along with the more recent usa network version of the miniseries, also called traffic.

the miniseries shares two of its three major story arcs with the film version, and naturally is set in britain (and pakistan), rather than the united states. at the time, the series was remarkable for showing the drug trade at such different levels, and what motivated the participants beyond a simple good/evil distinction. i think that has been done better since then, such as in the wire, but traffik deserves credit for breaking the ground.

i always review the movies i get from netflix, but i haven’t usually done that for the television shows. yesterday i finished watching veronica mars — the complete first season. i had actually watched about half of the season when it was broadcast, but stopped watching for some reason. i think it became the third show in its time slot that i was recording.

anyway, while each episode pretty much stands on its own, the whole season also had a unifying mystery that veronica was trying to unravel. when i heard it was actually resolved at the end of the season, and satisfyingly so, i decided i had to catch what i had missed. i wasn’t disappointed.

it is amazing how much effort must go into a good television series. strung together, each season is like a seventeen hour movie.

and this bit of dialogue killed me: “If you haven't even tried Ubuntu how can you say you don't like it? It had the 2.6 kernel and Gnome 2 on the day Warty Warthog was released.”

the live debate episode of the west wing aired last night, and i thought it was really disappointing. the episode didn’t have any sort of arc to it, both smits and alda came off as poorly rehearsed, and the writing just wasn’t up to the crispness of the better episodes of the show. whether you agree with the politics or not, one of the great things that happens in regular episodes is that someone will just lay out an idea in such a coherent way that it makes you wonder why that doesn’t happen in real-life politics, and there was very little of that in the debate episode.

i was a little surprised that forrest sawyer appeared as the moderator, but i was really surprised that they put an “nbc news” bug in the lower-right.

culpepper will miss the remainder of the season, pretty much guaranteeing that the rest of the season is going to be exceptionally painful to watch. i’m so glad i sprung for the sunday ticket package now.

i may have to rethink my policy of not starting to drink until after half time.

i was checking out the schedule of nfl games on fox 11 for the rest of the season, and when i realized that i was only going to get to see maybe three or four more vikings games this year, i decided i had to take drastic measures to rectify that.

time to stock up on cider.

the title of this washington post article pretty much sums it all up: “a great thing about slim-line tvs: more floor space.”

that’s one nice thing about using a projector for a television. it doesn’t take up any space at all. (another is the ginormous screen — i laugh at your puny 43 inches!)

hanging a $4000 television on the wall must be a nerve-wracking experience.

speaking of projectors, a simple feature that they should all have, but at least mine does not, is a built-in image you can use to set the focus.

don't try this at home: culinary catastrophes from the world’s greatest chefs edited by kimberly witherspoon and andrew friedman (reviewed here) sounds like a great book. one of the chefs to contribute a chapter is anthony bourdain, author of kitchen confidential.

speaking of kitchen confidential, i hope the show ends up better than the pilot. i really wanted to like it, but it just did not gel.

remember oil storm, the faux-documentary on fx? here’s the first sentence from the synopsis: “oil storm examines when a category six hurricane in the gulf of mexico slams into louisiana, crushing the city of new orleans and crippling the vital pipeline for refined oil that is port fourchon.”

um, yeah.

wired reviews hooking up, and the biggest complaint is that for a show about online dating, it really doesn’t have much to say about the online part of that. i agree that the timescale of things is terribly unclear. from the show, you get the impression that some of these women are going on dates every night, seriously considering guys as “maybe the one” after two or three dates/days, and then breaking up the next day. (then again, maybe they are. what do i know?)

we’re well into the thick of the summer television season, when network news divisions roll out their documentary-ish limited series, like abc’s hooking up. it follows a bunch of single women as they date by using online dating sites. so you get the seriousness and production value of a news documentary, but on a topic that fits with all of the other reality schlock on television.

as to the actual content of the show, it left me wanting to curl up into a ball under my bed. that probably explains a few things.

the recent movie crash is being turned into a television series for fx.

it took me more than a year to get through it, but i’ve finally seen all of krzysztof kieślowski’s dekalog miniseries. there are 10 episodes, each based (sometimes fairly loosely) on one of the ten commandments. they are all connected by place (a warsaw apartment complex) and some refer to characters and events from others, but each is otherwise distinct.

they are all brilliant, of course.

oil storm is a faux-documentary from fx that reminded me, at least viscerally, of the day after. it chronicles a series of events (hurricane, shipping accident, attack on infrastructure in saudi arabia) that send the price of oil up near $150 a barrel, and the price of gasoline of $8 a gallon. the whole structure of the movie is just really well done, and i think they made the right choice in not being over the top in pushing a particular point of view. it really does come off as a television news documentary from the future, albeit with a focus on the smaller players in the story than you might see in real life. (for example, the administration is represented by a couple of under-cabinet-level players, and the references to the president and cabinet officials is pretty fleeting.)

one can only hope that this ends up being as un-prophetic as the day after has.

marketing mailing lists are curious things. i ended up with four tickets for television preview on april 17 in pasadena. it’s my chance to go screw up someone’s hard work during pilot season, i guess.

changing of the oprahs

about a month ago, one of the billboards outside my window became an advertisement for oprah's show, and every weekday they change the text to say what will be on the next show. today i happened to catch them in the act. it seems like an event that should have more fanfare.

my big fat obnoxious boss is a spoof of the apprentice (which i’ve never watched) in the spirit of my big fat obnoxious fiancé. i finally got around to watching the first episode, to decide whether to set up a season pass for the rest. it is brilliant, and i added the pass. like my big fat obnoxious fiancé, there are just enough moments that are hysterically funny to make up for the weak parts.

the upcoming season of six feet under will be its last. too bad. although it is still excellent, later seasons really haven’t matched the power of its first season. also, the sopranos next (and last) season won’t debut until 2006. yikes!

it turns out that when it rains, my directv reception gets pretty miserable. (not something i had noticed much before — i guess there really wasn’t much rainfall the last 12 months.) thanks to #tvtorrents, i was able to download the shows that my tivo was unable to record. that’s pretty cool. (commercial-free, even. too bad there’s no way the networks will jump on the bandwagon, even with not-commercial-free downloads. they will remain paralyzed by fear of so-called pirates even as they watch their business crumble.)

sony’s location-free tv is an interesting concept, although fairly pricey right now. i just wish sony would get going and start selling the black projector screens already. i see gizmodo mentions rumors it won’t appear until next summer, and will be priced at around $2000 (ouch!).

maybe i shouldn’t wait. i’m itching to get rid of my television. i guess the question that follows is: svga or xga? the benq pb6200 looks nice, and they’ve got a $200 rebate going until the end of the month.

perhaps all the vegas hotel/casinos do this, but i was a little impressed to get a letter with a special offer from the new frontier hotel casino the other day (an atrium suite for $45 weekday, $69 weekends through january 27). of course, the graphic of someone shoveling snow isn’t exactly compelling to a southern california resident.

american casino is the discovery channel version of mark burnett’s the casino that ran on fox over the summer (which burnett, who produces survivor, called his worst show ever. it’s interesting to see how another team does with a very similar concept.

thoughtcrimes is a tv-movie that is obviously a pilot for a series that did not get picked up (based on how the main characters have moved on to other roles). that’s too bad, because it is pretty good, and probably would have made a good series. there’s some really clever use and portrayal of the main character’s telepathy. the story is a bit over-streamlined in places, but moves along on a good pace and doesn’t get as stupid as you might fear for such a concept. fire up the tivo, because it just a few upcoming airings.

salon synopsizes the first two seasons of the wire, good for those of just jumping into season three. why such the delay on getting the boxed sets of the earlier seasons out? right now there’s no way to get your hands on season two.

conan o’brien to replace jay leno in 2009 reports the new york times. i wonder if he’ll stay in new york. (and i wonder how much longer dave will keep going.)

greg the bunny to resurface on ifc. first as a half-hour special, and possibly as a series. cool!

what a terrible idea

father of the pride is the new television show from dreamworks animation that airs on nbc. (it premiered tonight.) it is an anthropomorphic take on the animals behind the scenes of siegfried and roy’s vegas show. it stars the voices of john goodman, cheryl hines, carl reiner, and others. (two names that popped out in the credits were david herman and joe dimaggio, of futarama fame).

that just has disaster written all over it, right?

the punchline is that it is really funny.

screen goo allows you to paint on a surface that is suitable for using as a projection screen. pretty nifty, but i’m holding out for sony to release their grip on the black screen technology. (via boing boing.)

bitty schram is leaving monk.

hit me!

celebrity blackjack happened to catch my eye today while i was playing with blackjackinfo.com’s blackjack strategy trainer. i’m sorry, but blackjack is not a table game well-suited for competitive play. the show comes off as a low-rent knock-off of celebrity poker showdown.

but i was surprised that celebrity blackjack had some actual celebrities: snoop dogg, shannon elizabeth, jason alexander, camryn manheim, and kevin nealon. not quite the kato kaelin-grade “celebrities” i was expecting.

but i play one on tv

between marathons of airline and family plots, and episodes of the casino, the airport, nypd 24/7, and the rest of the onslaught of reality television programs, it’s clear that anyone wasting time leading their own life is a chump. i’m happy to say that i don’t have that problem.

mark burnett, call me when you’re ready for the video store....

non-salacious fox?

e! online reports that fox had the casino toned down, because after february 1st, everything changed.

the show, which premiered last night, was just okay. it will be interesting to see how later episodes work out, now that it is past all the introductions.

speaking of television, i’ve been thinking it would be really cool to get a home theater projector. i just love the idea of not having a big, bulky television, but just having the projector up on a high shelf ready for projecting on the wall. i’d need to fork out for one that could handle fairly bright conditions, though, and the bulb replacement costs are on the pricey side.

ah, the fickle finger of pagerank

i guess liz marlantes must be making some media appearances somewhere, because suddenly this old posting of mine is getting fan-boy comments.

wonderfalls cancelled

according to cnn, fox cancelled wonderfalls. not surprising, but disappointing nonetheless. (via les orchard.)


i just have to chime in and say “what he said” with regards to what aaron has to say about wonderfalls, a mid-season show from fox. absolutely brilliant.

i mentioned keen eddie last summer when it had a short summer run on fox. bravo is running the series now, including six episodes that fox never aired. it’s a fun show.

i finally caught up with hbo’s small town ecstasy, which follows a northern california family where the dad has gotten into the rave and party drug scene since his divorce (after being introduced to the scene by his 18-year old son). the documentary is really great at presenting the story in a fairly even-handed way, when it would have been easy to let an anti-drug or pro-personal-responsibility message weigh the film down.

just looking for a little information about what happened since the documentary, i turned up that the dad was charged with felony child endangerment based on the footage, which is no great surprise. (he provides the money for his 13 and 15 year-old kids to get some ecstasy at a house party, despite his 18-year old son trying to dissuade him from letting it happen.)

invader zim coming on dvd.


on a recent episode of tru calling, eliza dushku’s character throws a housewarming party. a character that only regularly interacts with about six people throws a party where about forty people show up. (and if i remember correctly, some of those people she regularly interacts with have complained that they never see her.) it was just one of those convenient-for-the-plot things that struck me as odd.

i should probably do the housewarming thing some day. then again, that could irreparably damage my reputation as a recluse. (or not, which would probably be an even less appealing outcome.)

the “mary pat shelby” episode of sports night is easily an equal to the “love’s labor lost’ episode of er. cancelling sports night was one of the stupidest things that abc ever did. (right next to forcing a laugh track on them in many episodes of the first season.) comedy central’s been showing the sports night episodes on a crazy schedule lately, but they just played the final episode in the usual thursday night slot, so that may mean they’ll be starting over this thursday.