Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Interview with Erin Karpluk of Being Erica

My interview with actress Erin Karpluk is up on Blogcritics now. I really liked the Being Erica pilot, which could be described as 13 Going on 30 meets My Name is Earl. It starts January 5 on CBC and will come to SOAPnet in the spring and BBC ... sometime:
  • Erin Karpluk is Being Erica
    "'The time travel is more a catalyst for Erica to explore her past. She's learning from the past which enables her to make stronger decisions in the present which then shape her future.'" Read more.

Monday, December 22, 2008

JibJab year in review 2008

[Edit: This doesn't seem to work in Firefox, though it does work in Internet Explorer. Give them time and I'm sure it'll be fixed. For now, click here.]

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My TV thoughts on Twitter: Dec. 17-20

As you'll see from my Twitter updates, I have three TV-related interviews to write up in the next few weeks, so some day soon this blog will have something more than Twitter updates. But for now, Twitter updates!
  • Not content at being on every TV show's soundtrack, Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah #1 and #2 on UK Christmas charts. (I didn't have room to say this, and couldn't find an online article to confirm it, but CBC radio said the original version has now also cracked their top 40 because of the publicity.)
  • Cool article on near death experiences and brain/thoughts as quantum mechanics. TV connection? Uh, it mentions ER-vintage George Clooney.
  • Alan Sepinwall in the New York Times mourns the death of network TV. James Poniewozik of Time dances on its grave.
  • Being Erica launches a video diary. Premieres Jan. 5 on CBC (Canada), Spring '09 on SoapNet (US).
  • SAG nominations: Yay, not just Hugh Laurie but House ensemble. Sad that's only way Robert Sean Leonard gets nominated (no Emmy, no Golden Globe). Boston Legal? Ugh.
    • It's a weirdly stale list of nominations. Kinda like the Emmys usually are. Good to see Elisabeth Moss sneak in though.
    • I used to love David E. Kelley but don't get the Boston Legal love. And William Shatner as best actor? My head hurts.
  • Now have 3 interviews to write up soon - Defying Gravity, Being Erica, Cock'd Gunns. Defying Gravity is a Fox/CTV/BBC co-production but no US broadcaster has been announced yet.
  • Flashpoint returns Jan. 9 on CBS and CTV (back to Friday nights). Preview here.
Want to follow me on Twitter? Here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My TV thoughts on Twitter - Dec. 13 to Dec. 16

  • It's official: no Canadian Idol for 2009. Could be uncancelled later, though, so hold the celebrations or tears.
  • Wall Street Journal on Big Bang Theory: A Nerdy Comedy's Winning Formula. Though for me, the winning formula is Jim Parsons = Sheldon.
  • After suspending parliament, the Governor General gets back to serious business: giving Paul Shaffer the Order of Canada.
  • Children's Hospital is only slightly more ridiculous than Grey's Anatomy. I hate geoblocking - have to mask IP address in Canada.
  • Recording SNL tonight. Watched House pilot mostly out of curiosity to see Hugh Laurie in a drama. Now it's a novelty to see him do comedy.
  • Some day I will admit that I don't really like The Mentalist; I just like Simon Baker and his sweater vests.
Follow me on Twitter here.

Beaker meets Beethoven

H/T to Justin Beach.

Friday, December 12, 2008

My TV thoughts on Twitter - Dec. 9 to Dec. 12

Here's the TV tidbits that interested me in the last few days:
  • I was wondering what happened to Matt Roush at TV Guide. Not good news for the (doomed?) website. Or me.
  • I interviewed Erin Karpluk of CBC and Soapnet's Being Erica way too early this morning but it went fine. Will post an article closer to the Jan. 5 CBC premiere.
  • Golden Globes nominees announced. Hugh Laurie and House, Michael C. Hall and Dexter, and Slumdog Millionaire make me particularly happy.
  • Bad news: Pushing Daisies still cancelled. Good news: It won't end on a cliffhanger anymore.
  • They're messing with my beloved Anne of Green Gables. I can't bear to watch this weekend's TV movie.
  • Jon Stewart mocks biggest Canadian political mess since controversial decision to reshape bacon: (in Canada) (in US)
  • CBC's This Hour Has 22 Minutes YouTube videos are geoblocked in Canada. CBC's Rick Mercer Report videos are geoblocked elsewhere. CBC is weird.
Want to follow me on Twitter and get all this excitement in real time? I'm here.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Bad TV news, good TV news

There was actual news floating around Twitter today, so here's the latest collection of what's on my TV mind lately:

One bit of information I was on the receiving end of was the news that the Tribune Company has filed for bankruptcy protection. Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune is not only one of my favourite voices in TV criticism, she's an active blogger and Twitter user. So her announcement of the news brought on an outpouring of support. (She says "I'm still reeling, but from what I understand, nobody is fired or laid off now.") Tribune also owns the LA Times among other media outlets. Besides the obvious general badnewsiness of this whole thing, fingers crossed that it doesn't result in even more losses in the shrinking world of professional TV criticism.
  • Writers Guild of America TV award nominations announced. Includes House for episodic (Doris Egan and Leonard Dick, "Don't Ever Change") and other good stuff.
    [The other good stuff includes The Wire, Dexter, Mad Men, 30 Rock, The Office, etc., though the other episodic choices are somewhat odd, including few from the nominated shows.]
  • Love Lisa de Moraes, used to love David E. Kelley, so this cracks me up - she says he’s known as “a kind of brainy tsetse fly.”
  • Lee Goldberg hates Canadian TV, blames lack of showrunners.
  • I love Love, Actually so I'm with this guy. More reruns of that, fewer It's a Wonderful Life takeoffs for me.
  • Suspect reporter who emailed my "TV, eh?" account to ask who I am was expecting a more exciting answer. I'm secretly Kiefer Sutherland?
Want to follow me on Twitter? Here.

Friday, December 05, 2008

This week in my so-called TV life

The Great Twitter Experiment has already given me a little brainstorm. I'm going to gather any appropriate "tweets" every so often and include here too, for painless posts between my now very occasional "real" posts. (All together now: duh. In my defense ... uh, it didn't occur to me before.)

It'll end up being a collection of TV-related links that interest me and short thoughts on what I'm watching. I'll try to post any videos I link to there in same-day posts here, too (this time they're just included below as links). And I won't be able to resist fleshing out those 140 character posts a little, at least fixing syntax. Drives me nuts to write in text speak.
  • Wired and the LA Times have nearly the same article today: science fact in TV fiction, like House, Breaking Bad, Big Bang Theory, etc.
  • Trailer Park Boys series finale sneak peek. I'm no fan, but with 7 seasons, they've done just fine without me.
  • Dollhouse’s Eliza Dushku on the Friday night death slot: “Dude, we're in the age of DVR. People watch what they want to watch.” Dude, ask Tim Kring how much DVR ratings count.
  • If only Ned could bring Pushing Daisies back to life. I'll really miss that show.
  • Rick Mercer's rant on Stephen Harper. (If you don't know Mercer or Harper, you're not Canadian and won't care.)
  • Slowly rewatching old Cupid. Both anticipating and dreading new Cupid. Please don't suck, new Cupid. I want to love you.
  • Tivo guilt? Not me. I'm ruthless with the deleting.
  • Love Dexter. Love Jimmy Smits. Not sure I love Jimmy Smits on Dexter.
  • The LA Times is really reaching for good news: "A SAG strike won't cripple TV." Sure, not if all you watch is Til Death, 90210, or Canadian TV.
  • Watching Cock'd Gunns screeners in preparation for an interview. It's a cross between Spinal Tap and Trailer Park Boys. I think. I never saw Spinal Tap.
Want to follow me on Twitter? Here.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The great Twitter experiment

I have to admit, I've long thought Twitter sounds incredibly stupid. (Don't know what Twitter is? It's like Facebook if it were only the status updates. Don't know what Facebook is? Meet my friend Google.) How can we find the time to do anything with all the time spent telling people what we're doing, and reading about what they're doing? I barely care what I'm up to any given minute of the day, never mind what anyone else is.

But like any tool of expression, of course what we get out of it is more about what we choose to express and ingest rather than the tool itself (I'm ignoring "the medium is the message" for now). Twitter's being used for all sorts of purposes, from "this is what I'm up to" missives, to group chat between friends (it can even be private), to promoting businesses and blogs.

Which is where I come in now, semi-reluctantly, as someone whose job and hobbies involve web technology. It could be an opportunity to promote TV, eh? in a simple and different way and to keep up with a new web toy that doesn't seem to be fading.

So what will my Twitter look like? I'm sure it'll evolve as I figure it out, but I'll focus on TV thoughts, and not just Canadian TV. One of my (ironic? hypocritical?) pet peeves about TV coverage in this country is that Canadian TV is relegated to its own ghetto. It's rare to read an article that mentions a Canadian show unless it's exclusively about Canadian TV.

Of course, what's TV, eh? if not a well-intentioned ghetto, but it's what I can manage. Twitter will let me do manageable microblogging where Canadian TV is just part of my TV thoughts, and if people follow then they'll hear a little more about Canadian shows in the process. And it'll alleviate my current issue with blogging time. With only 140 characters, I won't feel like I have to write more of a "review" than: "Love Dexter. Love Jimmy Smits. Not sure I love Jimmy Smits on Dexter." Hmm, maybe I'll post that one.

Twitter's a community, not a soapbox, so there's bound to be some off-topic tweets (yeah, they call them tweets). The big benefit of experimenting with Twitter is that unlike the great podcast experiment, it's low effort. I won't post the link on TV, eh? until I feel more comfortable with how it'll all shake out, so consider this a beta release for those of you who have forgotten to delete this blog's RSS feed.

If you're not into it, I don't blame you. If you are, follow me here:

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Interview with Michelle Forbes

It's probably time to acknowledge what's been pretty apparent for a while, that I'm all but abandoning this blog for now. I'll continue posting my articles from TV, eh? and Blogcritics, though I'm cutting down on those too. But my latest, posted at both places, is an interview with Michelle Forbes, the new addition to Durham County's second season, playing Dr. Penelope Verity. She's juggling In Treatment and True Blood too, and is best known (though don't say that to her) for her roles in Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica.
  • Michelle Forbes Delves Into The Darkness Of Durham County
    “I know where her distortions are coming from and I have an enormous amount of empathy for that,” she explained. “I think there’s an enormous amount of love and hurt at the core of Penelope’s distortions, whereas I think – and this is the difference between men and women – I think that at the core of Ray Prager’s distortions, it was about ego and bravado. And of course hurt and what he went through as a child, but certainly what it turned into as a man was the need to conquer and be powerful. That is not the engine for Penelope.” Read more.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I'm so spooky

I've interviewed JibJabber Gregg Spiridellis a couple of times, last time at their studios in Venice, California. Wish I'd had this clip to post as an extra at the time to show a little slice of their workplace and give a little company history - it's an interview with CNN. But it's never too late to share the JibJab love, especially when they've got a bunch of new Halloween videos and ecards.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Listen now: Mark Critch of This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Jonas Chernick of The Border

Mark Critch of This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Jonas "Heironymous Slade" Chernick of The Border were the witty and entertaining guests on the final (for now) TV, eh? show on Blogtalkradio.

Mark Critch talks about stalking the trail of Sarah Palin in Alaska, impersonating Danny Williams in China, and teaching Beijing schoolchildren useful English phrases like "Stephen Harper lied to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador."

Having just completed a half marathon and demonstrating excellent social skills, Jonas Chernick proves he's not really like his character (as long as you don't ask his friends and family, apparently). He talks about what's next on The Border and what's coming up for Slade, his forays into writing and theatre, learning about current events from The Border scripts, and why he never wants to write one.

Listen in the player below, visit the show site, or subscribe via iTunes or with any other program via the TV, Eh? feed.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Truth in TV advertising

These are too awesome for words. So here's a picture of one of Glark's truthful TV Title Cards :

Check them all out here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

This Sunday on TV, eh? Blogtalkradio

It's the last TV, eh? show on Blogtalkradio this Sunday, at least for the foreseeable future, and I've got great guests to help me go out with a bang: Mark Critch of This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Jonas Chernick (Heironymous Slade) of The Border.

Listen live Sunday, October 19 at 11 am Pacific/2 pm Eastern and join the discussion by calling 646-200-4063 (or sign in and look for the Click to Talk button on the show site). Or catch the podcast afterward.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Belated Thanksgiving, Canadians - now vote

This is where I've been: Osoyoos. Picture taken during Thanksgiving dinner at the Burrowing Owl winery.

Monday, October 06, 2008

I predict ordinary Canadians won't care, and no wonder

I always have fun with my silly Emmy predictions posts, even though so much of my opinion is based on hearsay and prior bias rather than any passion for most of the season's nominated shows themselves. It occurred to me as I was writing this year's entry that because I sample so many Canadian shows as part of my TV, eh? duties, for once in my life I have seen more Gemini nominees than Emmy nominees. So I did consider for a few minutes writing a similar Gemini prediction post. And then I came to my senses.

I was exaggerating when I said no one would read it. Some of the people whose shows I mentioned might read it, and based on past history, there's a good chance I'd open my email to much ego-fuelled vitriol unless the post was about how every show was deserving, rah rah rah.

Because in the world of Canadian television, the Internet is not for fans. There's a small fan base in any case because of our smaller population and the anemic viewership most Canadian shows generate. On top of that, too often opinions are shouted down and ridiculed by people who draw a paycheque from the industry, some of whom choose not to identify themselves as such.

It's part of the professionalism discrepancy between the US and Canadian systems that's evident in other ways. One of the most damaging examples is the disdain for the populace that oozes out of many industry discussions. Television Without Pity was co-founded by Canadians, but if there were a TWoP-like site focused on Canadian TV, it wouldn't be dominated by fans being merciless about the shows they watch, it would be overrun by industry people being merciless about their potential audience base. Unless of course it’s election season, in which case contempt for ordinary Canadians turns into passionate attempts to speak for ordinary Canadians, while ordinary Canadians stay silent or speak for themselves. No wonder Stephen Harper believes it’s politically expedient to turn arts funding cutbacks into votes.

Berating people who care enough to talk about a show is an interesting way to try to cultivate interest, as is disparaging the population at large, but it's in keeping with the Canadian industry's witness protection philosophy. "Canadian TV: Shh, don't tell anyone we're here." The addendum: "And if you fools accidentally discover us, scram."

I started TV, eh? not because I cared about the industry, but because as a viewer I cared about people like me, never getting to make the choice of whether a Canadian show was worth watching or not because I'd never even heard about them. Unfortunately, now what I hear, read and experience leads me to believe that the Canadian industry cultivates and therefore deserves its obscurity.

Viewers, on the other hand, deserve a thriving homegrown industry (read John Doyle of the Globe and Mail and Mark Leiren-Young in the Vancouver Sun if you're questioning why). So I can only hope awards season and election season will pass without further damaging its reputation and its foundations.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Listen now: Heartland, The Tudors, Stratusphere

It was a fun show today, with a lovely and gracious Amber Marshall of Heartland at the top of the hour, funny and eloquent David Alpay of The Tudors at around :15, and witty and articulate Trish Stratus of Stratusphere at :40. And I don't just say that because none of them stood me up today - guests like these make it all worthwhile. I'm still retiring after the Oct. 19 show, with Mark Critch of This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Jonas Chernick of The Border.

Listen in the player below, visit the show site, or subscribe via iTunes or with any other program via the TV, Eh? feed.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


I'm a fairly analytical person. I like things to make sense, have order, be logical, and I puzzle over them until I can make them fit into some semblance of sense, order, and logic. I also believe that life rarely makes sense, has order, or is logical, and for some reason that thought comforts me more than the platitudes of "Everything happens for a reason, blah blah blah." That's where the poetry of life comes in, and actual poetry, and even some song lyrics.

I'm the DJ of my shared office at work by virtue of my better computer speakers, so my officemate and I were talking about examples of lyric snippets we love, but we realized that talking about why they affected us killed what it was we loved. Sometimes analysis needs to make way for simple appreciation of wordplay, or the evocation of a particular feeling.

These are some random examples that have popped up for me lately (these are lines of lyrics that affect me for ineffable reasons, not necessarily overall songs that do):

"I could change my life to better suit your mood."
- from Smooth by Santana with Rob Thomas

"Every time she sneezes, I believe it's love."
- from Anna Begins by Counting Crows

"Beautiful minds, trying to keep it independent in recruitable times."
- from Breath by Swollen Members with Nelly Furtado

"It’s 3 am, I must be lonely"
- from 3 am by Matchbox 20 (hmm, making it two for Rob Thomas in my top-of-mind examples)

"In the cathedrals of New York and Rome, there is a feeling that you should just go home, and spend a lifetime finding out just where that is."
- from Cathedrals by Jump Little Children

Friday, October 03, 2008

Sunday's TV, eh? podcast

It's surprising, I know, but it seems that saying "Argh! I can't do it anymore! It's too much trouble!" is not the way to get someone to volunteer to take over the TV, eh? show on Blogtalkradio. Besides, I'd tried and failed to get a regular co-host early on - I never did really want to be the host myself - so I wasn't holding out much hope that anyone would want to take it over completely, scheduling and all. I've got a couple of shows already lined up, and then they'll likely take an extended hiatus, potentially to be resurrected later, potentially to fade into oblivion.

My guests this Sunday include:

  • Amber Marshall, who plays Amy Fleming on Heartland, which returns to CBC this Sunday.
  • David Alpay -- Mark Smeaton on The Tudors, airing Tuesdays on CBC.
  • Trish Stratus of Stratusphere, airing on CTV on Saturdays.
(Yes, one of those names will be familiar as last week's stand-up, but he is also the only stander-upper to ever apologize, so all is forgiven.)

I'm taking a break for Thanksgiving weekend but there's a show on Oct. 19 too, with Mark Critch of This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Jonas Chernick of The Border.

Listen live this Sunday at 11 am Pacific/2 pm Eastern and join the discussion by calling 646-200-4063 (or sign in and look for the Click to Talk button on the show site). Or catch the podcast afterward.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New fall TV leaves me as cold as an Alberta winter

Sadly, it looks like this fall season is going to be a total wash for me. Except maybe The Mentalist, which I'll still sample not because it's a great show, but because it's just good enough, and Simon Baker is so dreamy. Don't judge me.

Fringe I wanted to give more of a chance than I did, wanting to scratch the X-Files/4400 itch, but after the boring pilot and the excruciating writing of the second episode, I sat down to watch the third episode and found my finger had hit delete after 5 minutes. Deletion of the series recording soon followed. Life's too short to hope a crappy, dour TV show gets exponentially better with time.

I loved the pilot of Privileged but the second and third episodes had me fidgeting. It was always a long shot, since I've never been into The OC/Gossip Girl/90210 territory, but I was enjoying the heart this one displayed. However, the well-assembled story of the pilot was by far the most engaging of the plots, and I'd been there, done that, grown out of it long ago with the other storylines. I feel downright mean saying this, but the series is handicapped by a couple of very, very bad actors (the sister and the friend Charlie) and while I still find lead actress JoAnna Garcia charming, that wide-eyed, head-bobbing charm wore off a little with repetition.

Gary Unmarried wasn't as horrible as I was expecting (I know, go crazy with the praise there, Diane) but Jay Mohr's descent into According to Jim Belushiness makes me sad, and I need more than a few laughs to make me put a show in regular rotation.

I recorded Worst Week and deleted without even watching. With some series, you just know it's not going to be for you, and I hated this one when it was a movie called Meet the Parents.

I might still check out Life on Mars and The Ex List (though the acrimonious departure of creator Diane Ruggiero makes me hesitate on that one), but I'm not holding out hope that any new shows will be added to my PVR this fall.

I'll write my thoughts on my favourite returning series when enough of them have come back – Pushing Daisies this week! A sneak peek: so far, House is breaking my heart. And not in the good, killing Wilson's girlfriend kind of way.

Anyone want to adopt a TV, eh? internet radio show?

No TV, eh? Blogtalkradio show this week either, due to yet another stand-up. Can I just say I've never been actually stood up by any of my Hollywood interviewees? I've had last-minute calls to reschedule, but never complete stand-ups. And this makes 4 for TV, eh?, not counting the guy who was in Italy and had phone issues.

So I'm honestly not saying this in a fit of pique - I have no idea what happened with the no-shows, but it's not necessarily the interviewees' fault. But I've been thinking about this for a while, monitoring how much time I'm spending on the show. The next 18 months are going to be very busy for me and while this is a project I wanted to make time for, I can't justify the wasted time of watching screeners and preparing for interviews that don't end up happening. I will continue the show until I hit the end of the currently scheduled and in-the-works guests, but I'm going to have to abandon it after that. If anyone out there wants to take the show on - from scheduling to hosting - I would continue to promote via TV, eh? Let me know.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I guess I have an OK head for the Emmys

I meant to give the rundown of my Emmy prediction success earlier (and by success, I mean failure) but I'm only now coming out of the coma that embarrassingly bad ceremony put me in.

First, clearly I hoped Hugh Laurie would finally win, but all I can say about the overwrought people who are whining he was "robbed" is that they either haven't seen Bryan Cranston's performance or they have drunk too much of the House fandom Kool-Aid. Besides, since Laurie didn't attend the ceremony, we would have been robbed of an acceptance speech, and while it's all about the recognition, blah blah blah, it's really all about the witty acceptance speech.

Anyway, out of 12 categories, I got 7 correct if you combine all 3 of my opportunities to guess (which you shouldn't, but it sounds better if you do). My heart got 2/12, head got 6/12, random number generator got 3/12.

Heart: House
Head: Mad Men
Dice: Boston Legal
Actual: Mad Men (head gets it)

Drama Actor:
Heart: Hugh Laurie
Head: Jon Hamm
Dice: Gabriel Byrne
Actual: Bryan Cranston (didn't get it, though I'd said he was amazing)

Drama Actress:
Heart: Glenn Close
Head: Glenn Close
Dice: Mariska Hargitay
Actual: Glenn Close (heart and head get it)

Drama Supporting Actor:
Heart: Michael Emerson
Head: John Slattery
Dice: Ted Danson
Actual: Zeljko Ivanek (didn't get it)

Drama Supporting Actress:
Heart: Rachel Griffiths
Head: Sandra Oh
Dice: Sandra Oh
Actual: Dianne Wiest (didn't get it)

Drama Writing:
Heart: The Wire
Head: Mad Men Pilot
Dice: Battlestar Galactica
Actual: Mad Men Pilot (head got it)

Comedy Series:
Heart: 30 Rock
Head: 30 Rock
Dice: 30 Rock
Actual: 30 Rock (got it, got it, got it)

Comedy Actor:
Heart: Lee Pace
Head: Alec Baldwin
Dice: Alec Baldwin
Actual: Alec Baldwin (head and dice got it)

Comedy Actress:
Heart: Christina Applegate
Head: Christina Applegate
Dice: Christina Applegate
Actual: Tina Fey (didn't get it)

Comedy Supporting Actor:
Heart: Neil Patrick Harris
Head: Neil Patrick Harris
Dice: Jeremy Piven
Actual: Jeremy Piven (dice got it)

Comedy Supporting Actress:
Heart: Kristin Chenoweth
Head: Kristin Chenoweth
Dice: Vanessa Williams
Actual: Jean Smart (didn't get it)

Comedy Writing:
Heart: Pushing Daisies
Head: 30 Rock - "Cooter"
Dice: 30 Rock – "Rosemary's Baby"
Actual: 30 Rock – "Cooter" (head got it)

Interview with Brigitte Nielsen

I've got another interview up on Blogcritics now, this one with Brigitte Nielsen (Red Sonja, Celebrity Rehab), who is a featured speaker at the PRISM Awards, airing today on FX:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Yes, it's Canadian content

This Sunday, actor David Alpay -- Mark Smeaton on The Tudors -- will talk about the show's second season coming to CBC on Sept. 30.

Listen live Sunday, September 28 at 11 am Pacific/2 pm Eastern and join the discussion by calling 646-200-4063 (or sign in and look for the Click to Talk button on the show site). Or catch the podcast afterward.

Listen to TV, eh? on internet talk radio

Monday, September 22, 2008

Yet Another Interview with House Writer Lawrence Kaplow

Before I duck back into semi-retirement from House writing, I just had to do this interview. Larry Kaplow, who left the show after three seasons -- and two previous interviews with me -- returns for season five. His first episode back (co-written with David Shore) airs Tuesday.
  • Home to House: An Interview With Returning Writer Lawrence Kaplow
    "It was like coming into a new show. It was really hard writing the first episode back. The others had been with these characters for a year -- well, a truncated year because of the strike, but 16 episodes, so they had a feeling for them. I came in almost like any new writer coming into a show. The structure of the show had changed." Read more.
For simplicity, I did this one as a Q&A so it's mostly the edited transcript of our talk. And, um, in my defense re: the "full of shit" comment ... the man cannot take a compliment and there's only so many times you can reassure that someone gives good interview, so that was a compliment in Kaplowese. I do not say that kind of thing to all my interview subjects (though sometimes it's tempting for a whole other reason).

Sunday, September 21, 2008

No TV, eh? show today

Because no Sitara Hewitt called in and while I managed to babble about Canadian TV news, I don't want to leave that up as a permanent podcast. Don't judge Sitara - I don't know what happened but there are many possible reasons for her not appearing that wouldn't be her fault.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My Emmy predictions

Not that anyone's counting, but my third annual Emmy prediction silliness is up on Blogcritics, where I decide on the winners using my heart, head, and a random number generator. Last year, my success rate was 8/12 correct predictions if you combine all three (which is cheating, but whatever), or 5/12 for my head, 2/12 for my heart, and 2/12 for random number generator.
  • Rolling The Dice on the Emmys
    "Heart: Hugh Laurie definitely has my heart. For the Emmy Award, I mean.
    Head: Laurie is overdue, and Michael C. Hall and Bryan Cranston were amazing, too, but my head's going with Jon Hamm. Mad Men has the buzz and the momentum, and Hamm brings nuance to a role where so much is below the surface. I have turned into a pessimist and have come to think that one day, when House is limping along in its 10th season, voters will finally realize they haven't yet given it to Laurie and reward him when someone else has had stronger material. As long as James Spader doesn't win, I think I can deal with the disappointment. But I don't want to test that theory." Read more.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Upcoming guests on TV, eh? Blogtalkradio

I will soon have some meatier posts, but for now, check out the upcoming guests for the TV, eh? show on Blogtalkradio and see the site for more info on this Sunday's show.
  • Sept. 21: Sitara Hewitt -- Rayyan on Little Mosque on the Prairie
  • Sept. 28: David Alpay -- Mark Smeaton on The Tudors
  • Oct. 5: Amber Marshall -- Amy Fleming on Heartland

Listen to TV, eh? on internet talk radio

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Listen now: To Hell With Manners! The Decline of Civility on TV, eh? Blogtalkradio

Filmmaker John Curtin discusses his funny and insightful CTV documentary To Hell With Manners! The Decline of Civility, airing Sept. 20 at 7 pm. We chat about infuriating BlackBerry use and road rage and anonymous Internet commenters, among other examples, as well as the free hug movement and "Karmageddon," the brainchild of the Join Me group that practices random acts of kindness.

Listen in the player below, visit the show site, or subscribe via iTunes or with any other program via the TV, Eh? feed.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Signs I may need to update my pop culture references

I consider myself reasonably current in the pop culture world. I’ve never seen an episode of The Hills, but I know about the infighting between Lauren and Spencer and whatsherface. I’ve only ever seen part of a season of American Idol, back when Fantasia won, but I bet I can name every winner. (I can’t say the same of Canadian Idol, but I refuse to accept that means I’m out of touch in any way.) I know John Mayer is a man-whore and Nicole Richie has cleaned up her act post-baby. I’m hip. I’m happening.

Yes, I realize the fact that I use the word hip means I’m totally not hip. But I’ve smacked into a few examples lately that made me confront just how unhip I might be.

But how else do you say it concisely?
I recently told a couple of people an anecdote that ended with the revelation that a friend had been “gaslighting me.” One knew what I meant by the phrase because he’d seen the movie, but the other had to use Wiktionary to figure out what the hell I was talking about (“To manipulate someone psychologically such that they question their own sanity”). In my defense, this is a reference that way predates my birth, to 1944’s Gaslight starring Ingrid Bergman. Wait, is that actually a defense? Whatever. It’s a great movie, a great concept, a great word, but I fear I need to stop using it as if people know what I mean. I probably won’t though, since I love it so much.

The pinnacle of beauty
I was trying to make an analogy about something and reaching for a comparison with the perfect example of perfect beauty, so I went to my long-time go-to example, Michelle Pfeiffer. Now, I will spit on you, virtually speaking, if you try to tell me she’s not one of the most beautiful people in the world -- and forget any qualifiers about age. But the woman hasn’t been making a lot of movies lately, having retreated to some beautiful Northern California ranch with her beautiful family or something, and doesn’t appear much on the cover of magazines or tabloids. She’s not exactly a current reference, is what I’m saying, not that her beauty isn’t current. I can’t make myself use obvious example Angelina Jolie, who is undeniably gorgeous but scares the crap out of me. That does not coincide with my image of beauty.

Was it that long ago?
A very white 20-something coworker was briefly wearing his hoodie with the hood up in the office the other day, so another coworker commented on the oddly casual look for our not-quite-that-casual office.
20-something: I’m going for the gangsta look.
Me: You look more like the Unabomber.
20-something: [blank stare]

Decisions, decisions. Do I make the effort to update my pop culture references, or do I accept the fact that people might not have a clue what I'm talking about? I'm leaning toward the latter -- after all, the outdated references are only the tip of the "what the hell is she talking about" iceberg anyway.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Listen now: Chris & John to the Rescue on TV, eh? Blogtalkradio

Chris and John from OUTtv's Chris & John to the Rescue talk about their upcoming Summer Camp series and the DVD release of Provincetown, plus they share anecdotes about saving the world ... one gay at a time. Hear how they saved Christmas, their haunted house encounter, and more.

Listen in the player below, visit the show site, or subscribe via iTunes or with any other program via the TV, Eh? feed.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Fall TV according to me

Last TV season, critics were grumbling that there were no break-out new series to keep an eye on, calling it a lackluster crop of new shows. Even the eye-poppingly original series, Pushing Daisies, was forecast to have an early death, supposedly unable to sustain a series out of the whimsical "Pie-lette".

They weren't entirely wrong about the season as a whole, long before it was derailed by the writers strike. This fall will see some shows return for their sophomore year, but for most it was more a reprieve than a whole-hearted renewal. Even Pushing Daisies, given an early second season order on the basis of its unexpectedly solid ratings, faltered in the Nielsen's towards the end of its brief strike-truncated run.

This season, critics are grumbling that they haven't even seen most new series, largely because the pilot season was delayed by the writers strike and networks didn't send out many screeners for reviews. So they are handicapped in their attempts to handicap the series' chances of success.

I'm not sure it matters. I strongly believe in the role of the professional critic, but it's a huge stretch to say their positive or negative opinions have a corresponding effect on ratings. And their prognostications about success or failure are about as accurate as my Emmy predictions (translation: really, really not). I'm perversely happy about it, since I'd decided to bow out of doing reviews this year anyway.

The CW chose not to send preview copies of 90210, causing critic conniptions. Conniptions they wrote about, at length, along with speculation and casting news, creating big buzz for a series no one had seen, helping lead to The CW's best ratings for a scripted series ever. (Though keep in mind "forever" in CW terms is two years.) I'm apparently old: I watched the original semi-regularly but couldn't muster even a smidgen of excitement over the remake. I did catch a bit of the pilot, but I seemed to catch a really boring bit. Tell me they weren't all boring bits.

Fringe has buzz, though the scary sci-fi people (TM Lisa de Moraes) tend to buzz about anything "genre." (Don't get me started, as a former English lit major, on how much I hate that scary sci-fi/fantasy people have taken over the word "genre" like it means a specific genre.) I'll probably give it an extended try since I miss The X-Files, and the movie sure didn't help relive its glory days. I thought the leaked Fringe pilot was a snooze, but they've tweaked it since then, and it's not the kind of show I can necessarily judge all that well from a pilot anyway. Will it become a convoluted mess? A ponderous bore? Or spooky entertainment? Time will tell.

I don't get Movie Central, the Canadian broadcaster for True Blood, and the leaked pilot helped me decide I'm not sad about that, though there was a lot to like. I can do without this hodgepodge though.

I do have my DVR set for Privileged, which doesn't seem like my kind of show at all, but the promos have me sucked in; it looks like it could be fun escapism along the lines of The Nanny Diaries - the book, not the horrible movie version.

(Let me interrupt for a scary thought about those promos: network marketers may not have seen the shows they're promoting, either.)

The pilot of Do Not Disturb was dreck. Turns out they won't be airing the pilot first, but with writing and acting that bad, I can't imagine it'll make much difference and I'm not planning to find out.

I didn't hate the leaked pilot for Life on Mars as much as most, though Jason O'Mara felt like a weak link, and he's the only cast member to survive the retooling. I don't have much interest in watching the drastically revised series, though. The original British series was a great concept that I had enough of after a few episodes - I Googled to find out how it all ended. I know, shameful, but it saved me a lot of time.

The Mentalist does not look like something I'll stick with -- cop shows tend to leave me cold, hence my bailing on Life on Mars -- but I have to check it out just because it stars Simon Baker (The Guardian) and he seems to have developed the ability to smile. Swoon.

There's more of course, but those are the only ones I've seen or intend to see. Other new series I'm hearing a lot about include Knight Rider (ugh) and sitcoms (always a hard sell for me) like Worst Week, The Ex List, Kath & Kim, and Gary Unmarried (when did Jay Mohr - Action - become so toothless? Oh yeah, way back when he did a romantic comedy with Jennifer Aniston).

The TV Addict has a great printable calendar with all the new and returning premiere dates: download it here.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Coming up on TV, eh? on Blogtalkradio

This Sunday, Sept. 7, I've got Chris and John of Chris & John to the Rescue on the TV, eh? show on Blogtalkradio. Tune in at 11 am Pacific/2 pm Eastern for the live show or catch the podcast later. These guys are hilarious and I have a soft spot for them because they send me information for TV, eh? regularly. Their 3rd season is in production for OutTV in Canada and here! Networks in the US, and Chris & John To The Rescue: Season 2 is coming to DVD on Oct. 14.

Listen to TV, eh? on internet talk radio

Sept. 14, filmmaker John Curtin guests to talk about his CTV documentary To Hell With Manners! The Decline of Civility (airing Sept. 20 at 7 pm). As an Internet denizen (where civility isn't inflammatory enough to be valued), a previous resident of Mexico City (whose female-only subway cars are featured in the doc), and a fan of House (the long-distance runner of incivility), I'm looking forward to this one.

Coming up, some of the returning fall series will make an appearance on the show, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

House writer Doris Egan – deleted scenes

Here's the promised deleted scenes from my conversation with House writer Doris Egan that I transcribed but didn't make it into the article (see Don't Mess With The Iconic Moment: An Interview With House Writer Doris Egan).

On what season four would have looked like without the strike, if "House's Head"/"Wilson's Heart" had been aired post-Superbowl as originally planned:
"I think from our point of view it didn't really make a difference. You knew story-wise you'd have to pick it up with the aftermath of her death. Whether we called it episode one (of season five) or we called it episode 17 (of season four), in a way it didn't really matter."

More about the actors, specifically Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard, but seeming to encompass the entire ensemble:
"Again, it is wonderful just to be able to trust utterly with the people who are taking your material away. You know at the end of the day there may be something different here than what was in my mind, but there's no way it's going to be worse."

On whether she has a bit of House in herself, and whether there's a little House in all of us:
"I think there may be. I think it's a good thing. That is what people respond to when they like him, that he's saying things they might want to say. When it comes to writing, I've never written a character that I didn't on some level understand and identify with even when they're wildly different characters. It's like there's some aspect of it where I can say OK, I understand that part of it. There may be people in the world who can write from the outside perspective, but I'm not one of them."

On spoilers:
"I actually want to do an essay at some point about spoilers, but I'm coming to believe in what I think of as normal spoilers and spoilers that really spoil. I mean, I am kind of a spoilerphile myself. When there's a show I like and someone has some information about what's going to happen on it, I'm like ooh, spill it, tell me. And yet there are a few things that I regret I knew, and I know I would have enjoyed them much more if I had not known."

"I was on a show once where we put out a fake part of a script. It was Dark Angel, and for the season finale there were two scenes they put out and that transcript went on the Internet. I was like, my god, that's diabolical. But even then, to me that was still a fun kind of spoiler. The world wouldn't have ended if that had gotten out."

(I mentioned that scenes from an early draft of the season one finale, "Honeymoon," were leaked and caused fan consternation over a bar fight that wasn't even in the final script:)
"That's another danger with spoilers. Again, I'm a spoilerphile so I'm not in any position to throw stones. But there is a danger when you hear a spoiler: in your mind you immediately put it in a certain context and then you react to that, whereas when it actually happens it could be in an entirely different context. But in a way it's too late, because that trip wire in your brain has already gone and you've already made a judgement about a character or a situation or a choice and it's too late now to take that back."

On whether with all the teasing over various pairings, we'll ever see House in a romantic relationship with any of them:
"The short answer to that would be you never know. I personally would like to believe that when the day comes, a long time from now when the show is over and we reach the end, I would like to believe that House is as ornery and alone as he has ever been. That's just me personally. As to anything that happens along the way, I do not know." (Me: "And if you did, you wouldn't tell me." Egan: "If I did, I wouldn't say.")

On her favourite of the episodes she's written:
"'House vs. God,' because the story structure of that one worked so well. Everything supported everything else, which rarely happens. I'm a big believer in doing what you have to do to get to the interesting scenes, but that particular structure seemed to all work out. I described it once as 'providential.'"

More on fanfic:
"It's also wonderful to see what people can do by taking different worlds and melding them. I don't just mean, let's take this movie and put it in this movie's world. For example, there was an X-Files fan fiction story that was in the form of a novel, and it was just so not what you would expect. It was internal and thoughtful and it was just very differently written. The take was just so different than the take on the TV show. And yet they were at core the same characters. It was as if you were using similar mythology."

On what television she watches:
"I don't have time to watch a lot of TV. It's so sad. My TiVo is so full, and I'm always trying to create room on it."

Me: "But not by actually watching the shows."

Egan: "Not by watching the shows. I did, over the last several weeks, make a huge effort and I'm almost up to date on Dr. Who. I haven't watched Mad Men. I haven't watched any of Heroes and it's exactly the kind of show you would think I would love. But I've got the DVDs."

Me: "So some day."

Egan: "Some day."

Monday, September 01, 2008

Interview with House writer Doris Egan

My latest from Blogcritics. Hardcore spoilerphobes might want to stay away for now, though nothing in it fits my own definition of a spoiler. We do talk about a piece of information that's already been made public and that only the most naive fan wouldn't have assumed anyway, but she also gives a hint of when that particular detail will occur.
  • Don't Mess With The Iconic Moment: An Interview With House Writer Doris Egan
    "I feel like House and Wilson, they deserve mythology. They're larger-than-life characters. There was one moment when I was typing the script where Wilson does something and I wrote: 'This is an iconic moment.' I thought someone would make me take that out, but they didn't." She feared the scene itself might be omitted since it was scheduled after the main shoot. "Hugh said, 'How could they do that? I believe you called it an iconic moment.'" Read more.
In the interest of time and therefore my sanity, I'm not going to do a transcript as I've done with some interviews in the past, but in a day or two I'll post some "deleted scenes" – quotes I transcribed but didn't end up using in the final article.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Are We There Yet?: World Adventure

Another Blogcritics article based on the TV, eh? Blogtalkradio interview with producer J.J. Johnson:

  • Unexpected Moments Bring Joy To Treehouse TV’s Are We There Yet?: World Adventure
    “For the new season, the cameras were rolling when TJ and Tristan took their first ever plane trip, and one brother said, ‘I can see heaven. I can see God dancing.’ ‘Of course I’m punching the cameraman, did you get it, did you get it?” Johnson laughed. ‘You can’t write that, or the look in his eyes. I don’t think there’s better programming out there when you get those moments.’” Read more.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Roll Play - the show and the music

From last week's TV, eh? podcast interview with producer J.J. Johnson, here's my Blogcritics article on Roll Play:
  • Preschoolers Rock Out to Treehouse TV's Roll Play
    "I confessed to him that I may have listened to the preview CD a few more times than was strictly necessary to prepare for our interview, but it's hardly like confessing to a secret fondness for the sound stylings of Barney the Dinosaur. The goal of Roll Play is to get children exercising in fun and imaginative ways, but the music makes it easy enough for adults like me to shrug off the fact that the lyrics are about centipede sisters or Tasmanian devils having temper tantrums." Read more.
(By the way, there won't be a Blogtalkradio show for the long weekend. There will be another article soon on the other show Johnson and I talked about last Sunday.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Aaron Sorkin's Online Adventures

Aaron Sorkin is one of my favourite writers in any medium. I'd put some of his TV episodes up against some of my favourite books. I was ultimately disappointed in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, but I'm sipping on tea from a travel mug emblazoned with the logo as I write this. The first four seasons of The West Wing stand as my favourite TV series ever. (Think of my House ramblings now, and imagine if I'd been blogging then. The Internet just isn't big enough to hold all that verbosity.) I still mourn Sports Night and keep an eye on the cast wherever else they pop up. I both own the DVD of and watch every time I notice it's on TV – which is a lot – The American President. His dialogue, his themes, his passion, it adds up to brilliance.

So I say this with love: what the hell is he thinking? The news has escaped the confines of Facebook – Aaron Sorkin is apparently writing a movie about that social networking site's origins.

I can't wrap my head around the idea of the man whose work frequently takes simplistic sideswipes at web-based communities, and who claims his dead grandmother is more savvy about the Internet than he is, making a movie about Facebook in the first place. Why on earth is he interested?

I kinda hope it's not to promulgate the same views from The West Wing/Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip. In real life, Sorkin has had tangles with online communities, both in trying to defend his work to fans and in trying to diminish the role of his staff writers. He seems to let his venom leak into his work occasionally, where his characters' frustrations with online communities has been entertaining but also a little naïve.

I found Studio 60's earnestness over the world of television easier to take than some people, because I find a person's passion for a subject is often interesting in itself, even if the passions or opinions don't jibe with my own. I'm not an American politics junkie, or a sports junkie, but I couldn't have been more interested in his previous works if they were medical dramas or whimsical parables. I guess the problem is I'm suspicious of Sorkin's passion for the Facebook topic.

Even more odd -- if it's actually him, which it seems to be -- is Sorkin's attempt to research Facebook by announcing that he's researching Facebook. It's quantum physics waiting to happen; the act of observing changes the results. (Yes, I abuse this metaphor frequently, but it explains so much about life itself. And I'm a geek.) Aaron Sorkin joining Facebook as Aaron Sorkin and soliciting feedback on the Facebook experience will give him about as genuine a Facebook experience as Will Smith walking into Denny's and evaluating the service.

However, besides the Facebook group where he has interacted with fans (and of course a few detractors), he has a Facebook profile, too, which he's wisely made almost as private as possible. If he's actually using it like a regular user, interacting with people he knows, that should provide the more authentic experience. Except that now all his Friends, if he decides to accumulate any, will know it's an experiment, that they're being monitored, and he will be evaluating his actions and interactions through a lens that no other Facebook user will experience. It's quantum physics, I tell you.

But I have to go back to that first paragraph. I'm not innately interested in a movie about Facebook, nor am I confident in his innate passions for the subject. And yet he's a brilliant writer. Something appeals to him about the topic, and he's trying to absorb the experience of the topic, and a little faith is in order. If there's anything the Internet fan community has taught me, it's that pre-judging based on Internet rumour is unwise.

Well, maybe the lesson hasn't quite sunk in, but I'm trying. Faith. I have faith.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The two sides of the Geminis

The Gemini award nominations were announced today, so it seems wrong not to mark the occasion. I guess my Emmy prediction post can wait a little longer.

What are the Geminis, you ask? They're Canada's version of the Emmys (only really not, as a writer who was nominated today has been known to say). I'm no awards basher – I think everyone who's nominated should be proud, and I'm proud of the ones I know personally or even know of through my Canadian TV activities. The whole list of nominees is here (I think it's longer than the Emmys, believe it or not) and the leading contenders were Murdoch Mysteries with 14 and Durham County with 13.

Not many people would claim that any awards signify the absolute best of anything, partly because there is no measure of absolute best, partly because there's always politics and hype and success and a million other things that go into naming winners. But awards are an imperfect system to reward quality rather than ratings or commerce, and there's a virtue in that alone. I'm a recovering awards junkie, as a matter of fact. The Geminis have never been my drug of choice, however, though I'm hoping that will change this year now that I'm familiar with most of the nominated shows because of the TV, eh? site.

The Geminis have a major PR problem, like the Canadian TV industry as a whole. Emmy nomination morning, I logged onto the computer immediately after waking, eager to see if I needed to get my rage on. I had no idea the Gemini nominations were coming today, and I run a website on Canadian TV.

I mentioned them to some people today and had to explain each time that they're Canada's version of the Emmys (only really not). Part of the problem is our cutesy proclivity for using alliteration for our entertainment awards, which makes the award names blur together. I have to mentally calculate whether it's the Geminis or Genies or Junos that apply in each situation.

When Global finally broadcasts the Gemini ceremony on November 28 (after three earlier days of awards on October 20-22), expect to hear in the acceptance speeches more of the patented Canadian TV industry strategy of attempting to get publicity for shows that people don't care about by whining that people don't care about the shows. Not to mention the awards themselves: the media and fans don't know or care enough about the Geminis, so let's stretch them out over four news cycles over the space of a month? That can't be in Getting Media Coverage for Dummies, can it?

Some people have heard of some of the shows, but very few outside the industry have a pony in the race. Snub Hugh Laurie and us House fans will come after you; snub Yannick Bisson and you'll hear "who?" Though I say that both as someone who's liked him since Hockey Night and who doesn't necessarily think his lack of a nomination this year is worthy of the snub label. It's hard to come up with a list of snubs when you haven't given a moment's thought to the nominations before seeing them.

For the average TV watcher in Canada, it's also hard to get invested or make predictions when you haven't seen most nominees. That doesn't stop me with the Emmys, partly because my predictions are deliberately lame, but mostly because even if I haven't seen Lost or Heroes, I have sampled them and can tell you most of the plot points just from reading TV news and hearing my friends talk. Besides making it more fun to write, people will read a post predicting the Emmys. Because of my Canadian TV activities I've sampled more Canadian shows than most people I know, but if I haven't seen it on TV, you can bet I won't have heard about it from the watercooler, virtual or otherwise.

All that makes it hard to care about the Geminis on anything other than a "yay for people I know or sort of know" level. But I can cheer over one huge achievement at the Geminis that wasn't true in years past, when some categories looked desperate for any warm body: there's more than one or two shows that more than one or two people have seen that are worthy of being celebrated. Congratulations and good luck to everyone. I might even write a Gemini prediction post (that no one will read) if I can figure out when exactly the damn things are being announced amid those four days of celebrations.

Blogcritics news

Got the news this morning that Technorati bought Blogcritics. The part of me that’s worked in internal communications thinks it’s not cool that us Blogcritics found out after it was announced publicly, but the part of me that’s a blogger doesn’t care. What does it mean? Who knows. For the owners of the site, a lot more than for the readers and writers.

And I’m happy for them. They launched in 2002 and publisher Eric Olsen and the gang have worked damn hard to grow and improve the site at least in the time I’ve been with them (3 years already?!). The acquisition, whatever it ends up meaning, can only be a testament to their efforts and achievements.

I’ve enjoyed writing for Blogcritics because of the near-complete freedom to write what I want when I want how I want, coupled with greater exposure than I could get on my own blog. TV writers would never have agreed to my interview requests, and the Banff television festival would never have accredited me, without that platform. It might not be The New York Times, but The New York Times would never let me ramble on about House the way I'm prone to, either.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Modern Jackass: Subscribe Today

One of the few podcasts I subscribe to (other than TV, eh? of course) is This American Life. Hosted by Ira Glass, the show features a variety of stories on a single theme. A few weeks ago the theme was A Little Bit of Knowledge and the prelude introduced a brilliant two-word description for the phenomenon we all demonstrate on occasion, of spouting off on something we barely grasp but read something about some time ago that we half-remember. The concept comes from the friends of a TAL producer, who came up with an imaginary magazine dedicated to such blathering: Modern Jackass.

That edition of This American Life included a strangely poignant segment about an electrician who thought he'd stumbled onto a theory that disproved Einstein and Newton. He took a year's sabbatical to write his paper on the topic. An actual physicist took a few minutes to realize that he was reading an excerpt from Modern Jackass, but the electrician remains unconvinced.

I ran into an example of someone ripped from the pages of Modern Jackass the other day at lunch, at a Subway. A group of men were eating while one went on and on – not in his inside voice, of course – about how humans are only meant to live to be 60. Anything past that is a bonus, so we should all just shut up and thank our lucky stars if we make it past that ripe old age. After a few feeble attempts to figure out what the hell the man was on about, his three coworkers just listened to him as he talked and talked and talked about ancient people's lifespans, with vague references to bones and biblical age fudging.

He seemed completely oblivious to any counterargument of better hygiene, nutrition, and medical care, not to mention the conundrum of how to define what it means to say we're "meant to" live to be a certain age, especially given the average life expectancy is almost 20 years above his demarcation, and at least some ancient people's lifespans were considerably shorter than 60. But then again, that's me joining the pages of Modern Jackass, because I've done absolutely no research for this post and am relying on vague memories of anthropology classes and whatever random articles I've read over the years.

Were his coworkers buying his argument? Hard to say, since they were pounded into silence by the man's incessantly booming voice, but I'm betting no. I'm betting they were in the "maybe if we say nothing he'll run out of steam sooner" phase of dealing with the obnoxious arguer.

Don't those two words elegantly describe a phenomenon that's so pervasive in real-life and Internet discussions (including, if we're brutally honest, our own side of those discussions)? Modern Jackass: Subscribe today.

Listen now: Roll Play and Are We There Yet? on the TV, eh? podcast

Producer J.J. Johnson of Sinking Ship Entertainment talks about Roll Play, an innovative exercise series for preschoolers including fabulous new music, and Are We There Yet?: World Adventure, the first live-action pre-school travel adventure series for kids, hosted by kids.

Roll Play premieres Monday, September 1 at 8:25 am Eastern on Treehouse, while Are We There Yet?: World Adventure premieres Sept. 1 at 12:10 pm Eastern.

I play a snippet of the Dolores O'Riordan (of The Cranberries) song Centipede Sisters at the beginning, and a bit of Lucy the Woodpecker by Kulcha Connection at the end - you have to hear the album when it comes out on iTunes in October. Very cool.

Listen in the player below, visit the show site, or subscribe via iTunes or with any other program via the TV, Eh? feed.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Everest interview

I've now published to Blogcritics an article based on last week's TV, eh? Blogtalkradio interview on CBC's upcoming miniseries, Everest:
  • Everest Challenges Actor Eric Johnson and Director Graeme Campbell
    "In preparation to do the movie, I thought you've got to be a little bit nuts to do this. You've got to be a little bit crazy. And then you get into it and you get the gear on and you start climbing, and you're climbing with a group of guys and it really becomes intoxicating and you just want to keep going up." Read more.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

This Sunday on TV, eh? Blogtalkradio: Roll Play and Are We There Yet?: World Adventure

This Sunday on TV, eh? Blogtalkradio, producer J.J. Johnson talks with me about two Treehouse shows for preschoolers, Roll Play and Are We There Yet?: World Adventure. See more details at TV, eh?

You gotta hear the new Roll Play songs - they fit right in to my iTunes collection until you notice the lyrics are about centipede sisters and the like. I'll be playing one during the podcast, and am having trouble picking my favourite.

Listen to TV, eh? on internet talk radio

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Summer television

Several weeks ago I started to write a post about what TV I’m watching this summer, and I suddenly realized that if I don’t finish and post it soon, it will have to morph it into a “what I’m watching this fall” post. For quite a while I wasn’t watching anything at all – yay summer! – but I’ve got a few regulars now as I start to pine for my favourites to return.

Mad Men
I had also started another post about Mad Men, The Dark Knight, and Dr. Horrible that I may never finish, so: basically I like them all, but don’t love them nearly as much as I’m apparently supposed to, and there's a commonality to why, believe it or not. Anyway, it took me a few tries to get into Mad Men, and no show could live up to its $25 million marketing hype and critical drooling, but I finally appreciate the series even if I don’t wholeheartedly embrace it.

Normally I wouldn’t give a show more than a couple of chances, and usually just one (what's the point? I could forever miss out on the best TV series ever made and it wouldn’t even slightly change my life for the worse). But it’s summer, and it’s got such a slavish following, and will almost certainly win the Emmy, so I wanted to make the effort. It didn’t work until I recorded the late July marathon on AMC and finally pushed through my distaste for some elements of the show by watching a few in a row.

Even now I think it’s wonderfully well crafted, with a bit too much Craft on ostentatious display on occasion. For example, some of the acting and dialogue I find stilted, and the period detail sometimes feels like it’s come out of a magazine rather than a life. Matthew Weiner has wonderfully recreated an era that often makes me wonder why I want to spend an hour of my week immersed in a society I mercifully missed the first time around. However, it does the slow burn story incredibly well – nothing ever seems to happen until you realize the characters' positions have shifted in incredibly interesting ways – and while I can’t warm to any of these chilly characters, there are very few, if any, I don’t find fascinating.

I’m not a fan of cop dramas – I was into St. Elsewhere over Hill Street Blues, Chicago Hope/ER over NYPD Blue, House over CSI – but Flashpoint was on my radar because of the Canadian television thing, and it’s a decent hour of entertainment that plays with my emotions in effective ways. I rarely cry over TV shows unless they’re killing Wilson’s girlfriend, but this one seems to hit my buttons and I’ve had something in my eye at the end of almost every episode so far. It feels good to root for it to succeed.

Secret Diary of a Call Girl
Billie Piper’s turn as the happy hooker is fluffy fun that I would call a guilty pleasure, but I can’t manage to feel any guilt. I couldn’t tell you when it airs, but some evenings I’ll notice there are a couple of episodes on my DVR and turn them on while doing whatever I have to do around the house. I haven’t seen a new-to-me episode for a while, though, and I’ll delete the series recording when fall TV kicks in.

The Middleman
This ABC Family series is not available in Canada so I won’t say that I watch it and enjoy the relentless silliness coupled with unexpected moments of cleverness, not to mention the crazily likeable cast.

Burn Notice
I watched the first couple of episodes and it was fine, but I wasn’t drawn into it and I don’t have the same motivation as with Mad Men to try harder. Delete.

Coming up
I’m not actually excited about any of the new shows for fall, but I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised by at least one new series, and I can’t wait for House and Pushing Daisies to return, plus 30 Rock and The Office make me smile in anticipation.