Browsing Tag: tv


    10 Years Late & Well Worth the Wait

    April 25, 2013

    moneyball-bobYou could say I’m a little behind in my reading and watching lists.

    I just now finished Moneyball — the Michael Lewis book about baseball and the Oakland A’s. It was published in 2003 and I’d always wanted to read it. But just never got around to it.

    I think my son bought it a year or two ago at a school book sale, or something like that (Sean?), and he read it first. He said it was really good — and he was right! We saw the movie last year, and it was pretty true to the book, but (as is always the case), the book is better than the movie. Super glad I finally read Moneyball.

    I also recently finished watching something even older: Band Of Brothers. Holy crap, how great is that miniseries??!!??

    That came out in 2001 and I’d heard a zillion people over the years saying it was great, but never watched it until now. For about two months, it was my treadmill entertainment at the gym, so I basically watched it 40 minutes at a time — although there were a couple nights that I had to keep watching, so ended up on the treadmill for an hour or more.

    I’ve just started watching The Pacific, which is like the sister series as I understand it, but it’s not quite as good as Band Of Brothers so far. I’ll keep watching.

    But now I’m wondering what else I missed 10 years ago that I need to watch or read….


    A McGee Family Election Night Tradition (AKA, Wolf Blitzer Is A Dork)

    November 6, 2012

    vote-republican-democratIt’s about 2:30 pm right now on election day. In just a couple hours, one of my favorite McGee traditions will resume after a long break: Cari and I will sit down in front of the TV, with Outback Steakhouse take-out food in front of us, and we’ll settle in to watch many, many hours of live national election coverage.

    It may sound boring, but we have an absolute blast together … perhaps primarily because we’re as interested in watching (and mocking) the news coverage as anything.

    (That part of the fun predates our marriage, even, when we would watch live “breaking news” coverage on Los Angeles television and make fun of folks like Harvey Levin, who famously shouted “GET TO HIGHER GROUND!” repeatedly during some serious flooding.)

    I think tonight’s tradition began with the 2000 election, which was the first one after Outback Steakhouse opened up in Tri-Cities. We didn’t have nearly the amount of good restaurants in town then that we do now, so it was an easy choice to grab some take-out food and bring it home. We’ve followed this tradition each national election since, and I think even on most of the smaller election years, too.

    That first year, I remember us both trying to stake awake all night while votes in Florida were counted and re-counted. I outlasted Cari and stayed awake until about 2 am, I think, and the election was still undecided. As it would remain for the next 36 days.

    But probably our favorite moment happened last time out, in the 2008 election.

    We were watching CNN and Wolf Blitzer was leading their coverage, with a cadre of like a thousand analysts on set, too. Wolf was leading an interview — don’t recall who it was, maybe one of the party spokespersons or something like that — and he fired off a question that I also don’t remember. Just as the interviewee began to answer, Wolf interrupted with this:

    “I’m sorry, we have to cut away right now. But this is a great question and we’ll get back to it later.


    Wolf Blitzer asked a question then complimented himself on how good the question was!

    To this day, Cari and I often ask a question and then announce that our question is great. Cuz we’re kinda dorky. Like Wolf Blitzer.

    Here’s hoping tonight’s tradition brings more fun moments like that…..

    (Stock image via Used under license.)


    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.


    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, 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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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, you frustrate me so.


    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:


    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:


    (Thanks. I feel better already.)


    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.