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SteveT_AU Blog

The Writer's Strike is over

No, not me writing here ... :)

That US TV Writer's Strike. Many things will go back into production ... many fans will breathe a sigh of relief and so forth. Didn't really impact on Australian TV much, since ratings time only just started here ...

This article is a good one to see if your favourite show will get any more episodes made this season.

Interesting news about Aus TV electronic program guides

While this might be slightly belated (ie, because an increasing amount of the audience doesn't care about free to air TV now anyway), this is still good to see:

FREE TV NETWORKS USHER IN NEW ERA OF DIGITAL TV

Australia's commercial Free TV broadcasters are set to transform the free-to-view digital experience by paving the way for the development of free-to-air industry Electronic Program Guides (EPGs).


Press release here

Basically, the networks have finally gotten their crap together, and have agreed that they can supply program guides for all purposes.

Of course, this doesn't say whether the guides will be free (or cost), whether the guides will have full info be sparse in detail, or whether the distribution of guides will be electronic (ie, online) or as part of the digital signal (which is semi-useful, but only for set top boxes).

All the same, it's good to see Australia finally enter the late 20th century on this topic, so that Tivos and other gadgets being releseaed in this country might actually mean something.

Next season's US schedule announcements

The announcements are just beginning for next season's new US schedule. NBC has gone first; with them still floundering, they're trying again to get things moving.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is gone -- which is a shame from my perspective at least. I really quite liked it, but I guess it just never caught on widely enough. Sorkin couldn't convince people that the TV industry was both important enough, or that the people were worthy enough, I guess.

Crossing Jordan is gone as well, though after a much longer run. I was never massively into it, but my wife won't be impressed, as she is quite a fan. And she'll hate them when she finds out the cliffhanger that will never be resolved ...

Least surprising of course is that Heroes is a huge success, and has been renewed. What can I say? It's a great show, well acted and written, refreshingly original, but then also excellently evocative of many great comicbook stories. 

Other interesting movies includes news that comedies such as The Office and My Name is Earl will be getting 30 and 28 episodes respectively. An interesting tactic (partially due to the possible writer's strike coming up), but also just to do more with fewer comedies than ever before. I imagine that Seven will be happy to have more episodes of Earl to show, with it being practically the only new US sitcom to get a good audience in Australia for years.

Not that much interesting in the new shows, except maybe for Journeyman, which is going on after Heroes. Scottish actor Kevin McKidd (last seen as centurion Vorenus on HBO's Rome) stars as a reporter who finds himself being able to travel through time. Could be an interesting concept, could be too much like Quantum Leap (or good because it's like Quantum Leap).

Not sure about the rest of the new stuff -- really like to avoid self-conscious remakes like The Bionic Woman.

The Heroes semi-spinoff Heroes:Origins sounds interesting -- a series of self-contained character episodes that introduces new heroes then gives the (US) audience a chance to vote for who they want to see in the show. It's quite a good idea really, and there's never a shortage of hero types to choose from.

 

Still here ... what I'm watching now

Quiet times here recently ... still a great site of course, just busy with a lot of other things.

What I'm watching now --

 24 is good in a slightly odd way; it's not as good as last year, but with the main plot over after ep 17, it will be interesting to see where it goes in the end.

The Shield has restarted, and that is some great news. Best cop show ever -- it's interesting to see how they will all self-destruct in the end.

Heroes is just back after its long hiatus, and really enjoying the story, but wondering how much will be resolved by the end of the season.

The Daily Show gives me more intelligent news commentary than all other news shows put together. And it's funny too.

The Chaser's War on Everything is the closest to that locally -- a very funny show, not as political as The Daily Show, but still great for media satire.

 

Unfortunately, little new local stuff to report on, due to the general ineptitude of networks in this country. Dangerous was a good local series (but only 8 episodes). Wondering if it will have a return season. The ABC is putting out some good short form movies/miniseries (like the recent Curtin and the upcoming Bastard Boys), but they have so little to work with. And the commercial networks here are a joke.

But that's the only negative. Also watching some slightly older stuff like Weeds and Veronica Mars from last year, and have Dexter, Deadwood and Battlestar Galactica when I get the time. All good stuff.

 

Drowning in new TV DVDs ...

Not that it's a bad thing, but I've realised I'm absolutely drowning in multiple TV series on DVD.

Recently, I got the first two series of Rescue Me on DVD as a gift. This is one of those things that is Foxtel only here, and I haven't been able to watch it yet. Hear it's funny yet serious.

I finally bought myself the first season of Deadwood. I've been wanting to watch this for a couple of years, but again, Foxtel only. I've watched two episodes of this (from a preview tape in an old job), and it was dark, violent and grim, but really, really good.

I've also got Press Gang on DVD, which is a Brit youth series from the early '90s that I adored when younger. I've watched it all before, but as it was nearly 15 years ago now, I thought it was worth a rewatch (and I got all five seasons for $40!) It's still a show that is far better than it had any right to be, with some brilliant acting, and writing from Steven Moffatt (now better known for Coupling and several new Doctor Who episodes) that still compares well to anything made since. A wide range of people around my age know exactly what I'm talking about ...

That's part one for now. I'll leave the other half of what I've got in-store for later.


Apparently Jack Bauer is a bad influence ...

For those of you having trouble with separating reality from well, fiction, apparently Jack Bauer isn't that much of a role model after all. If the current season didn't make it obvious enough to you that Jack is simply a broken man now (even if he can do his job), this new article highlights how much trouble the US is really in:

TV torture influences real life

____________

The scene from Fox's "24" is haunting, but hardly unusual. The advocacy group Human Rights First says there's been a startling increase in the number of torture scenes depicted on prime-time television in the post-2001 world.

Even more chilling, there are indications that real-life American interrogators in Iraq are taking cues from what they see on television, said Jill Savitt, the group's director of public programs. Iraq are taking cues from what they see on television, said Jill Savitt, the group's director of public programs.

______________

Now I'm not for a minute going to say that 24 is to blame for this situation (as the article almost says). Anyone with a comprehension level above a 12-year-old knows that 24 is complete fiction, where characters employ questionable practices in questionable situations, all for the surprisingly simple purpose of thrilling us with a good story. As a comparison, it would have been like complaining that spies in the 1960s were becoming too much like James Bond, or soldiers in the 1980s too much like Rambo.

But the other worry in the story is that while everyone understands the fiction of 24, US military training is still having trouble with recruits who think that this is a good way to react. Now I'd hate to see the level of recruits they're getting, or the level of training they're not getting, for this to be happening. Though I think we all know that the US military command is having a few problems these days...

But really, Howard Gordon, 24 executive producer, says all that needs to be said about their show: ""We're not a documentary or a manual on interrogation," he said. "We're not a primer on the war on terror. We're a television show."


Why Joss Whedon needs to get back to TV

No doubt many of you have heard the news in the last few days that Joss Whedon, famed creator of Buffy, Angel and Firefly (along with a lot of movie work), has quit the planned movie adaptation of Wonder Woman that he's been working on for nearly two years. More details here.

Sadly, there isn't a lot to be surprised about with this news, and I'm sure he's the first on in that group. Part of the reason Joss moved to TV was his dissatisfaction with the film world, and the poor treatment given to most writers. Contrast this with TV, where the writer is king, and Joss got his real due.

These days, not only does the writer rule television, they can also become real stars (witness people like Whedon, Aaron Sorking and Rob Thomas, who practically have their own fan clubs now). And they produce a tonne of material -- these stars will often write a dozen episodes a year, or in Sorkin's case, nearly all of them. Compare this to film, where you might get one project made every two years, or in Joss's case, work two years on something and get nothing made.

This is why Joss needs to get back to TV. He would be an immediate star again, could get a heap of control, and for us fans, we'd see a lot more of his work again. And even "failures" on TV, such as Firefly (which was sadly quickly cancelled), still give us a dozen or more episodes to savour forever. And Joss Whedon loves episodic story-telling -- he's writing Marvel comics now to fill in that gap!

So get back to the small screen Joss -- we need you!


Things are working again!

Things are back to normal on TV.com now ... I'm back to my usual level (well, it's only level 5, but it's something :) )

I've tried to get the NRL Footy Show added to the site, since I found the damn AFL show, but not the one I prefer! Personally, I think there should be more Australian sport television content on TV.com anyway -- not sure if the site would agree, but for Australians, sport is such an important thing, and realistically for most of us, it's largely a television experience as well.

Well, time will tell where that goes, but it will be interesting if I can actually get a new show on the site...


Back in action -- just wish this site was

I had originally written a reasonably long post here, my first in over a month, but for some reason the site didn't see me as being logged in and the whole thing was swallowed into Internet oblivion ...

Not happy... and the Level system isn't working either, which screwed up me trying to add info to the new Foxtel show Dangerous. Very little appears to be working here at the moment ...

Oh well. I'll just post this anyway, as it's about time I added something. Just read this news story on actors in pilot season. Some interesting insights.

More later.


Merry Christmas to everyone

Funny thing is, I tried to write this earlier today only to have my two-year-old son turn off the entire computer halfway through :)

Merry Christmas to all! Hope you had an excellent day, ate and drank just enough, and got everything you wanted for presents. Even more importantly, I hope you spent the day with the people you love and had a time to enjoy.

For tv.com fans, I hope you've had a good year of viewing, where the quality outweighed the crap, and you found what you wanted to see. May better work be made next year, and the crap hidden from my view at the very least :)

Have a good 2007 everyone, and I hope you go where you want and do what you want, with who you want to be with.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Steve Turner.


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