Browsing Tag: tv

    Miscellany

    The Problem(s) with The Newsroom

    September 3, 2012

    hbo-newsroomHBO’s The Newsroom recently wrapped up its first season. I don’t watch much dramatic TV, but the former TV news/sports guy in me decided to give this one a try.

    In a nutshell, it was a mess. It was like the car accident on the side of the highway that you can’t stop watching. (I’m not sure if I’ll even bother with the next season … but I probably will.)

    The show is filled with problems. Here are some.

    Realism (of Lack Thereof)

    1.) No cable/network TV operation would allow an anchor to go on-air while high on pot. But we’re supposed to believe that Executive Producer Mackenzie and the other ACN staffers who knew his situation let Will go on-air the night that Bin Laden was killed? Never in a million years.

    2.) No serious national news operation would pursue a story about trolls leaving anonymous comments on internet forums. Nor would it let Neal (the producer working on the story) go online and post death threats and other crap about his co-workers. This was one of the dumbest storylines I’ve ever seen … on any show.

    3.) In one of the episodes when the news team is prepping for its mock political debate, Maggie goes off on a rant against Michelle Bachman because the latter apparently once said something about hearing God’s voice telling her to run for office. But Maggie, who professes to be an active Christian, doesn’t get that. She wants the first question of the debate to be Will asking Bachman, “What does God’s voice sound like?”

    If Maggie is really an active Christian (or even an inactive one, to be frank), she wouldn’t be surprised at all by the idea of someone hearing God’s voice. God speaks to believers all the time — through things we see, through friends, through the Bible and, yes, even through the proverbial “voice of God.” (He also speaks to non-believers, but they often don’t hear/recognize Him.) Maggie’s outburst about whatever Bachman said was utterly nonsensical and shows Aaron Sorkin’s complete non-understanding of what it means to be a Christian.

    Politics

    The mission that ACN is on to present a serious newscast is admirable, and I get a kick out of some of the ways in which the show makes digs at what we call journalism today — especially Fox News.

    But Sorkin’s personal politics are getting in the way of what could be a very effective commentary on modern news. In seeking to inform its viewers about what really matters, the ACN team has — in every episode — gone after conservatives and/or conservative beliefs. The show rightly points out some of the screwups, contradictions, corruption, etc. of the Republican and Tea parties and their politicians.

    But the show ignores the fact that liberal politicians are just as contradictory and corrupt. There’s no balance whatsoever on the show and the result is that Sorkin’s fake news channel is the liberal version of the very thing he obviously hates: Fox News. They’re one and the same; one’s blue and one’s red. But same exact modus operandi. Will McAvoy is ACN’s Sean Hannity.

    Oh, sure, Sorkin has gone out of his way in a couple episodes to have Will announce that he’s a Republican. But that comes across as nothing but patronizing to any conservatives who have sat through the series so far. I suspect that’s a small number at this point.

    The Biggest Problem

    The show’s biggest problem is Aaron Sorkin.

    It’s clear that Sorkin passionately hates conservatism and conservatives. He hates the Tea Party. The last episode ends with Will calling the Tea Party “the American Taliban.” WTF??!! Can you imagine the outrage if a TV show called the Democratic Party that? Wow.

    It’s also clear that Sorkin hates Christians and/or Christianity. There was one segment earlier in the season in which ACN news aired a montage of heinous crimes committed by Christians. Fair enough. Christians do commit crimes, sometimes in the name of religion. It’s sick and sad.

    But liberals also commit heinous crimes (I’m willing to bet that many of the Christian criminals shown in the montage were also liberals.), like the guy who recently opened fire at a Christian group’s office because he doesn’t like their politics. Also sick and sad.

    And Sorkin’s hatred of Christians is ironic because there are countless Christians doing “liberal” work all over the world right now — feeding the poor at homeless shelters, building schools, rebuilding homes and neighborhoods in Haiti, trying to save children from the slave trade, and so forth. All the work of Christians, doing the kind of things that liberals love to support.

    But you don’t see anything like that in The Newsroom. The show is exactly what it purports to hate: jingoistic and filled with half-truths. It’s a shame because some of the acting and writing is marvelous (Emily Mortimer is fabulous as Mackenzie and Sam Waterston is … Sam Waterston), and some of the personal story lines are interesting. But you have to fight to get past the news team’s self-righteousness and sense of intellectual superiority.

    I may come back for season two. But I fully expect the car wreck problems to continue, unless Sorkin changes his approach — an approach that TIME’s James Poniewozik called “Aaron Sorkin writing one argument after another for himself to win.”

    directv
    Miscellany

    DirecTV, You Frustrate Me So

    May 22, 2012

    directv-logoWe’ve been DirecTV customers since 2000 and have never had a bad experience with them.

    Until this year. More specifically, the past couple months, which have been frustrating enough to leave me wondering if Dish Network is really an option or not.

    March: New Home Install

    The story begins in March, when we moved to the new house. We used DirecTV’s movers’ service, which is where you leave your dish behind and bring your receivers, and they’ll install everything for free to get you up and running at the new house.

    Cool.

    When we ordered that, I also said I wanted to upgrade by adding a receiver in my office. No problem. The installers came out and we got everything hooked up, except one problem: My office wasn’t correctly wired for DirecTV. It was my fault. So, we skipped that part of the install. I said I’d have the wiring done soon and add DirecTV in the office when it was done.

    Adding an Office Receiver

    It took a while, but we eventually got the office wired for DirecTV. I contacted them to setup the new service, but they indicated that I’d have to pay full price for the HD DVR and to have it installed — about $250 total.

    Yikes!

    DirecTV gives receivers away to pretty much anyone who asks, so why did I have to pay full-price? Their phone and email support wasn’t being helpful, so I complained on Twitter about this and was contacted by someone on their social media support team.

    I said the office receiver install was supposed to be part of the move back in March, and it was going to be free then, so why did I have to pay now? After a few emails back and forth, they relented and said they’d give me the receiver for free even though company policy was to treat this as a separate install from the one in March.

    Despite their offer, I told them to forget it — I said I’d pay for the receiver if that’s what company policy dictates. I ordered it online and setup an install for two days later.

    The Office Install

    The installer shows up and gets me connected … but he installed an HR-20 receiver which was the one introduced in 2008. Can you imagine ordering a new car and the dealer giving you a model that’s four years old? The installer felt as bad about it as me and said they were out of stock of the current model (HR-24).

    The receiver worked fine, but had a couple concerns:

    • It ran REALLY HOT. Like, you didn’t want to touch it for more than a couple seconds.
    • Because the receiver is so old, the installer had to connect an extra gizmo to the receiver, along with about 4 extra wires, in order to get it to work with the “Whole Home DVR” system. The extra gear was ugly and took up a lot of space.

    I contacted support again and said, You know … since I paid full price for an HD DVR, how about you give me the current model, not one that’s four years old?

    The reply had this long spiel about how ALL DirecTV equipment is top-notch, even the old stuff, and DirecTV has the best equipment in the industry, even the old stuff, and I should really be happy with the old stuff. Oh, but since I’m complaining, they’ll order a current model from a different warehouse and ship it to me.

    Sheesh.

    The New Receiver Arrives

    The new receiver got here on Thursday and, since I just had an install less than a week ago, DirecTV said I would be able to just hook it up myself and things would work fine.

    Wrong.

    Turns out that they sent me a lemon. Yes, it was a current model — but it was refurbished and wasn’t fixed correctly. It wouldn’t recieve any programming. Black screen. No sound, no picture. Nothing.

    I spent an hour on the phone with them and after getting nowhere, they setup a tech support visit the next day (Friday). When the technician arrived, he spent about 45 minutes here and ended up confirming the obvious: the receiver was a dud.

    So, we setup an appointment for him to come back tomorrow with another HR-24 that he hoped/thought they had in stock.

    The Other New Receiver

    He did have a new HR-24 in stock and got it all setup in about a half-hour and I’m currently enjoying having DirecTV in my office. It’s a blast to be able to sit in my office at night and watch/listen to SportsCenter while writing and getting other work done.

    I’m still a bit chuffed about having to pay full-price for a receiver that they were going to give me for free when we first moved in.

    And then last night, when I clicked on the email telling me it was time to pay my DirecTV bill, I got more than a bit chuffed when I logged in and saw this ad on my account page:

    directv

    THHHHPPPPPPFFFFFFTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!

    DirecTV, you frustrate me so.

    newyork
    Featured

    Thhhppfftttt to New York City (and TLC, too)

    January 26, 2012

    newyorkI think TLC’s Trading Places was the first home-related reality show I watched. That was due, in part, to the crush that I had on the host, Paige Davis, but also due to the fact that it was a fun idea: your help upgrade a room in your neighbor’s house while they help upgrade a room in yours.

    Cari watched it, too, and we’d occasionally talk about how cool it would be to get on the show, which room we’d want our neighbor to tackle, which neighbor we’d choose, etc.

    And in the years since then, we’ve watch all kinds of similar shows — HGTV, TLC, DIY Network, Food Network and others. And the same subject comes up: Wouldn’t it be cool to get on one of those shows and get a new kitchen, or a new mancave, or whatever the show’s theme is/was? Yes, it would be cool.

    But those shows never, ever had any people on from Washington state. And they never visit Washington state.

    Fast forward to today, when we still watch some of those shows and still think it would be cool to be on … like, wouldn’t it be fun if Cari somehow was chosen to be on House Hunters??

    Every day, I get email alerts with PR opportunities from HARO and several of the recent newsletters have been advertising opportunities to appear on upcoming cable TV shows — mostly from TLC. And every time, I read the show description and then the requirements. And every time, the requirements are this:

    tlcshow

    Every show! You have to live within an hour of New York City??!! Does TLC know that it’s a big country out here? So frustrating.

    Hey New York … and hey, TLC:

    Thhhppfffftttttt!

    (Thanks. I feel better already.)

    Miscellany

    Random Thoughts: Beavis & Butthead

    August 8, 2011

    beavis-buttheadCari sent me a link to this interview with Mike Judge talking about the return of Beavis & Butthead to television.

    Confession: I’m excited by this news.

    Random thought: What if it’s one of those things that doesn’t live up to the hype you build up in your own mind? What if it’s nowhere near as good/funny as the original?

    I hate when that happens.

    Miscellany

    The Only Reality TV Show I’d Go On

    February 8, 2011

    When Cari and I used to watch Survivor regularly, we’d both manage to get about three minutes into any episode before realizing that we could never, ever go on the show. No way, now how. It was fun to watch, but that’s as close as we wanted to get to the show.

    I have a new favorite reality TV show, and it’s one that I would love to go on:

    worst-cooks

    Worst Cooks In America is on Food Network once a week. The cooks are trained to cook and go through a couple challenges each week, and one cook from each team gets voted off — usually after failing miserably at creating a meal with no help from the professional chefs.

    The reason I want to go on Worst Cooks In America? Two reasons, actually:

    1. I could win! I’m not a great cook by any means, but I’m much more comfortable in the kitchen than these folks are. They’re hysterical to watch. And this is probably the only reality show on TV that I could actually win.
    2. I would really learn how to make amazing meals! I’m pretty average. I can cook a few meals and do an adequate job with meats or pasta or something like chicken fajitas. But I have no clue what seasonings, spices and extra ingredients I could be using to make the meals I cook really phenomenal. I would love to learn stuff like that.

    Problem is, I’d never get accepted. If you look at some of the nasty meals from auditions, you can see how bad these people are when they’re picked. I don’t think I could purposely make something that looks that bad. So … I guess I’ll just keep being an average cook who enjoys the show from the comfort of the couch.

    Sigh…………

    Miscellany

    Best Buy = Clueless, But My Office Upgrade Survived

    December 28, 2010

    Three weeks ago today, on December 7th, I bought a new TV at Best Buy for my office. The one I bought is an LG brand, 32LE5400. It had all the things I wanted:

    • 1080p
    • 120 hz refresh rate
    • built-in Internet connectability
    • right size for my office
    • right brand — either Samsung or LG

    It was also

    • the top-rated 32-inch TV in the most recent issue of Consumer Reports
    • regularly $900, but on sale for $600 — about $200-$400 less than comparable models, and since I had $240 in Best Buy gift cards, my out-of-pocket cost was $360
    • the max resolution that my Mac Mini can support, allowing me to use it as a computer monitor, too

    The one thing it wasn’t was in stock. I didn’t want the shelf display model, so I placed a special order and Best Buy said a new one wouldn’t be in until December 27th. And that’s where the story gets interesting…. Continue Reading…