Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Doris Egan Q&A

I have no grand designs for this blog, except that it will probably continue to go fallow more often than not as life interferes in the near future. But whatever small designs I have for it, they don't include once a week postings linking to tidbits about House. Still, I couldn't resist this. House writer Doris Egan answered some fan questions as part of a strike promise, ending on this fabulous bit of whimsy:
  • Doris Egan Q&A
    "Sara Hess once suggested to me that somewhere about year seven, when the audience is tired of the show, we do a deliberate jump-the-shark season. House's evil twin shows up. Wilson's evil twin shows up. We learn that whenever Cameron was talking about her dead husband, it was actually a different husband; she's a black widow who's married a dozen men for their money and then murdered them. We find this out the morning after her wedding to Wilson. I told Sara, 'The thing is, I'd watch that season.' 'I'd watch it too,' she said; 'It'd be awesome!' House adopts a ward, who turns out to be Cuddy's child from that bout of amnesia in her twenties. Halfway through the season, without explanation, we develop a crossover in which the crew of the Enterprise finds themselves stranded in Princeton in 2010." Read more.
It's enough to last us until new episodes at the end of April, no?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

David Shore on Q

Jian Ghomeshi of CBC radio's Q interviewed House creator David Shore today (it's about 1/3 of the way through. What, you thought I'd time it for you?):
h/t to DMc, who feeds my addiction.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Keanu meets Teddy and Graham

Has DMc already posted this? I kind of think not; it might have led to tensions at the office if he had. But Stee did. (Stee would be Pamie's husband. You know, this girl). I'm sure he, like most people, found it hilarious because it features a young Keanu Reeves reporting on a teddy bear convention. But the stealthy, Canadian-only hilarity comes from who he's interviewing:

That's right, the 13-year-old Graham Abbey, who collects teddy bears and thinks it's cool as long as he doesn't play with them, grew up to be this studly star of The Border:

Isn't that adorable? Wonder if he still has the 53 bears?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Guard, the strike, and other depressing things

I'm a little late posting my latest Blogcritics review here - it's a preview of tonight's episode of The Guard, which will air in 10 minutes in the Pacific time zone - but it's also a review of the show in general, so here goes:
  • So Far, The Guard Treads Water
    "You know how sometimes you meet someone, and you ask them how they are, and they tell you? They spill about their recent depression, and how their cat just died, and their father never loved them, and they're sure their headaches are a sign of a brain tumour. You know that guy? The Guard is that guy." Read more.
I used a nicer, more episode synopsis-y blurb for TV, Eh earlier today, but I like that one better because it captures what bugs me about the show. And yet I'm sticking with it so far. Why? That's part of the reason I was on CBC Montreal today, talking about how the writers strike has affected my TV viewing.

The simple answer is that it didn't, exactly. What it did was emphasize the ways in which my TV viewing habits are already changing.

Sure, it took away my House for an extended period, and Pushing Daisies, The Office, and 30 Rock, but I didn't consciously look for replacements for my favourite shows, either. TV is pretty easy to live without.

But during the strike draught, even as I was crazy busy with work and other diversions, I caught up with The Wire and rewatched Slings and Arrows on DVD. I adore the ability to watch TV at my own pace, and to see shows that air on channels I won't pay for.

I always try to sample Canadian shows since I've put myself in that world with the TV, Eh site. But very few have actually captured my attention, and that's true of the new season's shows too. And yet I've stuck with some for longer than I normally would - I'm usually a one-episode trial kind of girl - because there's nothing else on my PVR. I save them for when I have more time and end up catching up on my emails, web surfing, cleaning the apartment, responding to the demands of my cat, etc. while the TV is on in the background. That's true during non-strike times, but it's usually The Office or 30 Rock or whatever happens to be on at the moment in that wallpaper role.

So that's why I've made it to The Guard's fourth episode, even though if it were competing with my favourites on my PVR, I would have abandoned it after two. When my favourites are back, there won't be room for a show I'm so on the fence about. So the strike can take credit for that.

But to me the more important point is how my new normal of TV watching helped make me feel strike-proof ... if I ignore the House withdrawal. More commercial-avoiding PVRing, more DVDs, more video on demand, more downloads, more TV as wallpaper. I'm not alone in any of it -- that's the new normal for many people. These TV watchings habits of mine have been emphasized, maybe even accelerated, by the strike, but not caused by it.

I also talked with the CBC folks about how the strike affected the Canadian industry. I was less negative than I have been here, but I repeated the point that none of these new shows have come out of the gate with ratings to brag about -- though brag they do -- considering the lack of competition. Plus, those ratings are not going to hold up in the face of a fuller post-strike schedule. I did point out that they've done better than most Canadian shows in recent years, which is a good step, at least.

Responding to a question about the shows that have been sold to the US lately, and whether Canadian shows can hold up against American fare, I said our best can compete with anything. But while the American sales are undeniably a good thing, we really should be more concerned with Canadians watching Canadian shows rather than Americans watching Canadian shows. And then I repeated my disbelief that American audiences would have any interest in The Border with its blatant anti-Americanism, though I stopped short of promising to eat my hat if that rumour was anything more than a publicity ploy.

There are so many reasons to be happy the WGA strike is over -- the biggest is the toll it's taken on those who work in the industry, including the writers themselves -- but one small happy side effect is that maybe those who work in the Canadian TV industry will shut up about how they can take advantage of the American market while, yet again, ignoring what their own is telling them.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Second-hand House news

TV writer Jill Golick is the person behind Story2Oh! (which I wrote about here) and the Running With My Eyes Closed blog, where she dissects television episodes. Her posts are ostensibly lessons in the craft of TV writing, but they're also fascinating for TV fans like me who like to see how their toys work. Even more fascinating when she delves into my favourite show.

Jill -- a lovely woman despite the fact that she’s tragically missing an “l” in her last name – just posted an account of a session she moderated at the Canadian Film Centre with CFC alum and current House writer Pam Davis. (Trivia alert: she is possibly the person behind the McGill paraphernalia that pops up on that show. EDIT: Jill confirms that's true in the comments). It's a deliciously insidery look at the House story department, of which Davis is one of 11 members. Read it here.

Fittingly, since Pam's last episode was Christmas-themed, Jill offered me the gift of a couple of juicy tidbits that didn’t quite fit into her mandate of breaking down the craft of writing, but did fit quite nicely into mine of feeding the inner fangirl.

The juiciest: Jill says that Pam says that “anyone who has a crush on Hugh Laurie really ought to, because he is fabulous." It's always nice to have validation, especially from someone who would know.

She also adds: "Pam confirmed that the woman really was a prostitute, in case you were wondering."

I kind of was, as were some of my friends. I actually rewatched the scene where they talk about her pendant in case I'd missed some clue that she was just putting House on. The clues of HIV tests every three months, and her impulse to think STD, and her comment about not telling mother what she does because "why break her heart just to feel righteous" all seemed clear, but I did feel like I was missing something at the end. So, nice to have confirmation, too.

As a friend of mine pointed out: "It was such a Houseian thing - a prostitute playing the Virgin Mary in an episode called 'It's a Wonderful Lie.' Though if memories of Catholic school serve, Mary would have been considered quite the soiled dove as an unmarried pregnant woman (apparently Joseph did her quite the favor) so even if Mary wasn't a prostitute, she would have been viewed, in her time, as no better than one. So it's a lie - but really it's the truth (sort of) masquerading as a lie."

Jill also tells me that David Shore was on CBC today, saying he's back at work now that the writers strike is almost officially over (showrunners went back to work today, other writers will go back Wednesday if the Tuesday vote allows it, as is expected). He said they should have episodes ready for the end of April, though that doesn't necessarily mean FOX will air them then.

Stay tuned next time when I actually post thoughts of my own.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Coming soon ... if things don't go well this weekend

In honour of what might (or might not) be the final weekend of the writers strike, here's a trailer for The Phone Book: The Movie ...

Monday, February 04, 2008

It's not me, it's you

As further evidence that everything is always about me, and also that the mind makes interestingly tangential connections to all sorts of things, the recent news that CBC's Sophie was sold to ABC Family made me realize that I really need to downsize my cable package.

Nothing against Sophie. This isn't my feeble attempt at a protest. Though I did bail on the show after its second episode, I'm not on a crusade against it. The connection is far more tenuous than that, with a lot more mind clutter on the way between Point A and Point B.

I wasn't surprised by the announcement that CTV's Flashpoint and The Listener were picked up by strike-starved CBS and NBC, because they got in on the series before production started, meaning they can put their own stamp on them early on. I was surprised that ABC Family is going to air the already-produced first season of Sophie, episodes they've had no creative control over. Then again, it's not a major network, and they haven't announced scheduling plans, so who knows if it'll be the usual acquisition of late-night filler. I don't get that sense, though.

I'll be more surprised if the already-produced first season of The Border gets picked up by one of the Big Four, though there are strong rumours a deal is pending so I'm likely about to be proven wrong. Americans love stereotyped portrayals of their country ... when it's their own stereotypes being upheld. I'm not sure an American audience will know what to do with a peek at a world where they're not the protagonists.

, for example, is being retooled as a pilot for FOX -- by John Wells, the man who ruined The West Wing -- and I wonder how much of the trenchant critique of both sides of that Canadian/American relationship will be lost in translation. I suspect die-hard fans will be seething at the Americanization of it. I also suspect that's the only way the show would survive in the US, so I will try to restrain my seethiness when -- if -- the time comes.

But besides all that, most of which has nothing much to do with Sophie, what really surprised me about the announcement that ABC Family was picking it up was: what exactly is ABC Family, then? Sophie is as much a family show as CSI or JAG are history shows, or Intervention is arts and entertainment.

Do I know any shows on ABC Family? I don't think so.

Do I get ABC Family? I'm not sure.

Which brought me to the thought: why am I not sure? The answer: I have too many channels, and watch too few of them. I didn't know I got AMC either until the hype around Mad Men started up, and then I realized oh, yes, it's that old movie channel where I once caught a Cary Grant movie. I recently resisted the temptation to keep the Every Channel in the Universe cable package and not only haven't regretted it, but haven't noticed there are channels I don't get.

During a writers strike it's far more pronounced, of course, and life has become far busier for me in recent months, but still, it's inescapable: for the amount of TV I watch, I spend way too much money on cable.

The one reason -- the only reason -- I have all the channels I do is that I love my Eastern time zone feeds of the big US networks. I love coming home from work and having House waiting for me. I'd like it even better if House himself were waiting for me, but I'll take what I can get. I love coming home to Pushing Daisies or The Office or 30 Rock on my PVR.

Except come tomorrow, after the last House in inventory, none of those shows will be waiting for me, not for a very long time. And even when they start up again, it's not such a difference to watch a couple of hours later, or even -- in the case of everything but House -- a couple of days later. I don't even need the extra time zone channels in order to record two shows at once, now that my PVR can do that anyway. I'm not quite in an on-demand world, but especially with DVDs in the mix, it's close enough for my purposes.

I'm also sentimentally attached to my Eastern time zone feeds, though. They let me watch House at the same time as anyone else on the planet, so I didn't feel left behind when my Central and Eastern time zone friends felt compelled to write and say how much they loved that night's episode. They let me do same-day reviews without collapsing at work the next day. They let me interview a writer from the show at 9 pm on a Tuesday and still be able to talk about that night's episode.

But sentiment doesn't pay the cable bill. So as Shaw ponders how to get rich off my cable rates and not paying for Canadian shows, I'll ponder how to break it to myself that I just might be breaking up with my beloved Eastern time zone feeds.

Tomorrow. After 7 pm Eastern. Don't want to keep House waiting, after all.