Archive for the walking dead

The Last Post of 2020

Posted in American TV (General), American TV Shows, Americans watching British TV, Behind-The-Scenes, BiogTV, British Shows on American TV, Internet TV, Local TV, Reality TV, Reviews, TV Acting, TV advertising, TV channels, TV Criticism, TV Culture, TV History, TV News, Watching TV with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2021 by Tom Steward

New Blog 14.1

Am I just too goddamn old to appreciate The Walking Dead: World Beyond?

America was rescued from the brink of fascism by a hair’s breadth but, you’re right, Chris Harrison, all anyone was talking about in the first week of November was The Bachelorette.

The end credits of The Mandalorian are back!

Covid-19 has turned every reality show in 2020 into the first hour of The Birds.

Star Trek: Discovery boldly goes where Star Trek has gone before.

I sincerely hope production designers on The Walking Dead series are paid handsomely and writers the bare minimum.

How long have the opening titles of reality television been like novelty backwards chronology episodes of 90s shows?

I predict Timothy Olyphant will become the Bart Maverick of The Mandalorian.

My AT & T U-Verse lies to me like Trump to his base.

I see your Werner Herzog and I raise you David Cronenberg.

I previously predicted that Conan would be a Vine by the time my son was at college. He’s only three and Conan is already on a streaming platform.

The Bachelorette accidentally revived Bachelor Pad for a season.

Not content with being Space Have Gun, Will Travel, The Mandalorian wants to be Space CHIPS.

I’m surprised there was public outcry when The Charlie Brown Holiday Specials left broadcast television but not when the Peanuts gang were used as shills for an insurance company.

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

Pictured (l-r): Anthony Rapp as Stamets; Michelle Yeoh as Georgiou; Mary Wiseman as Tilly; Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham; of the the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS ©2019 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Discovery reminds me of an awards show skit riffing on Star Trek.

The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special could be subtitled The Roast of George Lucas.

The biggest revelation of Showtime’s The Reagans is that previous documentaries on the family have all been under the spell of their mythmaking.

Geico sells insurance and condones fraud.

The dialogue in the edited-for-TV version of Scream about The Exorcist being edited-for-TV should have been edited-for-TV.

B is only 3 and can already identify characters on TV shows by their story functions. For example, Fred from Scooby-Doo is “We’ll go this way, you go that way.”

The Thanksgiving episode of The Mandalorian is brought to you by parents of children who skipped nap and fell asleep at the dinner table the day before.

I’d Ask The Storybots if there is a better example of their kind of show in the whole of television. It’d be a short episode.

I replied “Yes” to Netflix’s question about whether I was enjoying Star Trek: Enterprise because there was no option listed for “Not really but I need to watch this for completism’s sake.”

The Crown faithfully recreates the weekend in the Summer of 1981 when The British Royal Family stalked a CGI Stag.

Mario Lopez stars as Colonel Sanders in a Lifetime Original mini-movie called A Recipe for Seduction … is a honey-mustard trap for TV reporters!

I’ve spent decades wishing that the actors in Star Trek would loosen up. Discovery reminds me to be careful what I wish for.

Fun game. Watch The Mandalorian on a Holiday Weekend and complete the dialogue every time it buffers.

New Blog 14.3

Having PBS on in the morning and hearing the incidental music from Curious George makes me feel like even my kid is a sophisticate.

The best thing about the home release of The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone is that Francis Coppola does an introduction in front of a bookshelf in the kind of segments typically reserved for movies that American culture is now ashamed of.

If we stop making television about Reagan and Thatcher, do you think they’ll relinquish their hold on the future?

Ask The Storybots scratches my itch for exposition dump theme tunes.

When it comes to Star Trek canon, you have to take Enterprise with The Original Series.

Sorry, Mandalorian, but Droid Tales is the only Star Wars canon revision I’m interested in.

I always said that a young Margaret Thatcher was the role Gillian Anderson was born to play but until The Crown I thought I was talking figuratively.

12/10 was a good day to bury backdoor pilots.

I’m a little perturbed that the HBO Max algorithm can’t see the difference between Scooby-Doo and The Dead Don’t Die.

The Mandalorian is the best version of what you used to do with your Star Wars toys. Although for extra authenticity, Favreau should start throwing disabled He-Man and Ghostbusters characters into the mix.

Star Trek series must be fringe-watched. This is my new term for watching one episode of every series in a franchise at a time.

Ducktales went the way of Glow.

August and September 2020

Posted in American TV (General), American TV Shows, Behind-The-Scenes, BiogTV, British Shows on American TV, Internet TV, Local TV, Reality TV, Reviews, TV Acting, TV advertising, TV channels, TV Criticism, TV Culture, TV History, TV News with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2020 by Tom Steward

New Blog 13.1

Star Trek: Enterprise really tests my rule about not skipping introductions.

Thanks for the offer, Bravo, but I’m probably not going to learn about Race in America from someone who thinks the Underground Railroad was a railroad.

I may not have learnt the truth about Brandi Glanville and Denise Richards from this season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills but I now know that the Housewife safety words are “Bravo, Bravo, Bravo!”

Breaking News: TV show about humans in the grip of a deadly virus delayed due to humans in grip of a deadly virus.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s prophecy record extends from The Good Friday Agreement to America’s reaction to COVID.

I had no idea that the “so much more” promised by HBO Max would be the Alan Partridge canon. And I’m not complaining.

In other news, Fox just sold their 20th Television.

If Black Mirror were cut-for-time and edited-for-TV, it would resemble The Twilight Zone reboot.

While we wax lyrical about how much television has improved, Captain Kirk is using self-knowledge of his latent racism to free himself from his captors in an episode of TV from 1966.

Some of the promises Nick Jnr. make about the educational value of their programming are just plain lies.

Black-ish had to go online to criticize Trump. Talk about giving your opponent home advantage.

To treat Gone With The Wind and Blazing Saddles as equally dangerous is a kind of racism in and of itself.

I don’t remember so many characters from the entertainment industry in previous iterations of The Twilight Zone.

New Blog 13.2

Video killed the lady Star Trek.

It’s only a matter of time before Trump calls on John Ratzenberger to defend his dismantling of the postal service.

How far away from the microphones do the Kratt Brothers have to stand when they record Wild Kratts?

How long will the proposed Netflix Shuffle Button last once we’ve all been cycled to late-period Steven Seagal movies?

Of all the John Oliver rants that could go viral, who knew it’d be the ones about the Gilmore Girls reboot and Danbury?

If Strange New Worlds doesn’t include a showdown between William Shatner and George Takei, I’m cancelling my latest free month of CBS All Access.

Boy Scout Child Abuse is not and will never be infomercial material.

Not content with foisting Australian cartoon dogs on us on weekday lunchtimes, Nick Jnr. now wants our children eating to the sound of animated British dirt bikes.

Airing between the years of 1999 and 2006, The West Wing was always key to encouraging responsible voting.

The design of the HBO Max app is based on the aesthetic principle of counter-intuition.

The Next Generation was Gene Roddenberry’s vision of heaven. We are living in his hell.

I’m looking forward to ABC’s uncut, commercial-free airing of Do The Right Thing when another African-American dies in their prime.

I know self-loathing is his thing but I’m saddened to hear John Oliver compare himself unfavorably to Rowan Atkinson as Zazu in The Lion King. I mean, I assume he’s right. I’m not watching that shit to find out. And it’s free on Disney Plus.

In Carol Baskin, Dancing With The Stars continues its policy of casting the refugees of doomed marriages.

New Blog 13.3

Erika Jayne’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Reunion Zoom video looks like a pigeon caught on CCTV.

Trump got confused while watching Short Treks because somebody told him he had a “series of minisodes.”

In the wake of African Americans being routinely murdered by the police, The Help is trending on Netflix and Amazon Prime’s “Black Stories” section is headed up by Space Jam.

The subtitled disclaimer on Luis Miguel: The Series disappears too quickly for me to be entirely sure, but I think we’re supposed to watch the show as if it were a dream.

I expect Lisa Rinna’s “Gaslighting” number to top the Christmas charts launch a nationwide Cabaret.

Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado prompted G to wonder “Why isn’t he living in more splendor? He has the same air conditioner we do.”

Lower Decks proves that there is no Star Trek episode that cannot be spun off into a full series.

The Twilight Zone writers should talk to each other before they commit fingers to keys.

Has there ever been a hit show that survived the loss of its star for more than two subsequent seasons?

The Walking Dead is Dead.

September 8 is Star Trek Day. Except for viewers in Canada.

June and July 2020

Posted in American TV (General), American TV Shows, Behind-The-Scenes, Internet TV, Reality TV, Reviews, TV Acting, TV advertising, TV channels, TV History, TV News, TV Sports, Uncategorized, Watching TV with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2020 by Tom Steward

New Blog 12.1

The Plot Against America makes The Man in The High Castle look like a Saturday Morning Kids’ Cartoon.

90 Day Fiance is the only TV show with fidget spin-offs.

I watched The Twilight Zone episode Replay on the same day George Floyd was killed because statistics.

Episodes of TV shows that uncomfortably highlighted and critiqued racism are being removed from circulation along with the racist.

Walking Dead series must be binge-watched.

When the only pleasure in a season of television is its reference to other media, it’s time to stop.

If I’ve learned anything from the recent cull of TV’s racist past, it’s that the turn of the Millennium was basically the 1920s.

I hope that whoever went on set and re-filmed the finale of Top Chef so that a person of color won instead of the blonde white lady again did so safely and at distance.

It’s nice to be ahead of the algorithm. I have zero interest in Hamilton.

I’m definitely in the “adding introductions” camp of TV history reappraisals.

There are no two words I have ever expected to close a teaser trailer less than “Perry Mason.”

Fireman Sam: Norman Price is missing in the mountains!

Me: Just leave him there.

I can’t see anything but an unhinged actor when I watch Winona Ryder on screen.

When Niles Crane is the sanest character on television, you know the social contract has changed.

HBO’s podcast dependency problem requires immediate intervention.

New Blog 12.2

With its near-constant barrage of flashbacks, promos, and station IDs, watching Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story live on USA Network is a harrowing experience.

HBO Max gives me more choice except the one to have it or not.

You might have missed the mark but you’ve never Olive Garden Pandemic Commercial missed the mark.

When HBO puts a warning top of show, you know this is another level.

Breaking News: Papa John’s changes name to Uncle Tom’s.

Based on the commercial, every Snackeez should come with a free ticket to the end of civilization.

Married At First Sight: Australia plays like a parody of the original.

Stolen from G: “The Real Housewives interviews in 2020 look like Real Housewives from 2010.” My own contribution: The interviews look like they’re being filmed through their keyholes.

Seriously, what is John Lithgow paying off and when’s the final instalment?

Wayfair needs to remove any commercials that feature trunk-like furniture.

When it comes to MTV’s Catfish, it’s hard to imagine the solution is better than the problem.

Reviving 30 Rock as an infomercial means the suits won, right?

As long as there’s still an unwatched Star Trek: The Next Generation “Picard learning the Space Piccolo” episode, I’m never going to run out of television.

Arby’s shouldn’t have made those cartoon burrito villains look so appetizing if they wanted you to ever consider their Market Fresh Wraps.

The saddest episode of television in 2020 was a re-run.

New Blog 12.3

How many HBO shows will I want to watch before I find out J. J. Abrams is involved somehow?

Patton Oswalt’s new reality show got dark fast.

Apartments.com commercials are now recommending bodily augmentation in the search for real estate.

B watched an episode of Disney Junior’s Bluey about a sleep-deprived toddler with a solemnity more fitting of an AIDS documentary.

If you want to track the decline of movie stardom, bear in mind that Kevin James and Ray Romano are now considered “Big Screen” talent by TV Land.

Just watched the pilot of Star Trek: Voyager which features a conversation about personal pronouns. So single white men, don’t tell me you’re too old to understand the concept.

The question isn’t who’s going to miss the virtual Emmys. The question is how bad will the wi-fi be of those who attend.

B has me watching 90s and present-day Avengers cartoons back-to-back. I guess blonde hair isn’t the sign of heroism it once was.

I don’t know what’s going on at Ellen but I never liked the way she ran that bookstore.

It’s been thirty years of Lifetime Original Movies … misjudging the tone of every scene.

Well done, baseball. You’re now officially a weirder spectator sport than Blernsball in Futurama.

Regis Philbin was one of talk television’s great serial monogamists.

Rhea Seehorn was not Emmy-nominated for Better Call Saul. Read that again.

You don’t need to see all of The Man in The High Castle to get a sense of America’s fear about becoming a Japanese colony; just watch a Hollywood movie from around 1990.

Coen Artists

Posted in American TV (General), American TV Shows, Behind-The-Scenes, TV Acting, TV advertising, TV channels, TV Criticism, TV News with tags , , , , , , , on November 30, 2015 by Tom Steward

As someone who once publicly stated that hiring Steven Moffat as showrunner of Doctor Who was a good move by the BBC, I’m not used to my predictions about television coming to anything. So I was even more surprised to be vindicated about two separate predictions I’ve made on this blog in recent weeks. However, the ways in which they both came to fruition was enough was enough to make me think I should be more careful in what I wish for. As with the posts where these predictions were first made, this one comes with a lot of spoilers:

No guts, no glory

No guts, no glory

After weeks of waiting, on Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead we finally found out what had happened to Glenn. Which was nothing. Despite it looking as if his guts were being eaten by a herd of walkers the last time we saw him, it was in fact Nicholas whose insides were being devoured, giving Glenn time and space to hide under a dumpster until the coast was clear. Like all those who appreciate Steven Yeun’s performance in the show, I’m relieved that he’s still around and believed he would be. But, unlike many, I’m not convinced this was the masterstroke of storytelling it’s currently being spun as, largely by people involved in the series. In fact, I think it’s cheap. Teasing the death of a beloved character for a month exploited the goodwill of fans towards the show for the sake of publicity and added nothing dramatically to it.

Post-show discussion program Talking Dead (boy, Chris Hardwick must really think I have it in for him!) did its usual whitewashing of the drama’s shortcomings, re-imagining Glenn’s death hoax as some kind of statement about the mindset of characters in the world and aligning the audience with it. Frankly, it smelled worse than Daryl surely does. I know the entire remit of Talking Dead is to make every artistic decision taken in The Walking Dead seem purely creative and exponentially meaningful – and feel the collective silence if like Kevin Smith you dare to critique some of the choices made – but this isn’t an artistic decision. At least it’s no more artistic than publicity stunts like ‘Who Shot J.R.?’ or whatever they do on Scandal each week to keep people coming back to that steaming pile of crap. It amounts to fixing something you purposefully broke just for the inevitable attention.

Last week’s episode of Fargo could’ve been dubbed a musical tribute to The Coen Brothers. While the FX series is always prone to the borrowing of visual imagery from its cinematic forbearer, more recently it has been honoring its muses through the aural. In the first season, there was an effort to connect Fargo to the timeline of the original movie, but in the second what seems more important is a – specifically musical – link to the Coen universe. Versions of ‘Man of Constant Sorrow’ and ‘O Death’ from O Brother Where Art Thou and ‘I Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)’ from The Big Lebowski litter the soundtrack. At points, characters paraphrase or precis lines from Coen Brothers movies, as if quotations belong to the lexicon. It’s about half as satisfying as it sounds, and yet another distraction in a show full of them.

I was writing about Fargo in reference to playing with our understanding of what is TV and what is cinema. I seem to have given the series far too much credit since it is evidently more interested in propagating the cult of the auteur, something not even The Coen Brothers are that concerned about doing with their movies. It recalls the worst excesses of Quentin Tarantino, when the director decides to reference his own movies rather than other people’s. Or how Steven Moffat (because there’s only a few people I can ever write about) would remind audiences that all his garbage comes from the same bin. It’s a more style-conscious season, as anthology demands change, and I suppose intertextuality has got more on-the-nose as a result. But there’s a sense that the story doesn’t really stretch to ten episodes this time, and this – like shootouts – may be a way of prevaricating.

A style-conscious season of 'Fargo'.

A style-conscious season of ‘Fargo’.

I saw it coming and now I feel responsible. Whether it’s the survival of Glenn or the cinematic engagement of Fargo, it happened more or less as I expected it to. But perhaps that’s the problem. I think I saw through what these programs were doing, rather than seeing them.

 

 

Acts of Television

Posted in American TV (General), American TV Shows, Behind-The-Scenes, TV channels, TV News with tags , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2015 by Tom Steward

In the week following terrorist attacks on Paris, Beirut and Lebanon, the response of American television to these events is of little importance. But this is a blog about American television and so that’s what I’m going to talk about. To make this blog about the attacks – as if that had been its dormant purpose all along – would do a severe injustice to what is a complex geo-political situation. Sometimes I wish American television knew its limitations as well as I do. News and current affairs programs obviously must deal with what has happened – unfortunately for those of us who don’t think that refugees are responsible for the crimes of their persecutors – but TV entertainment doesn’t necessarily have to engage unless the latter’s remit crosses over into the former’s. Nonetheless, all entertainment programming, at least that which has been made since the attacks, seems to have an unwritten obligation to comment on the human tragedy. This sounds like an altogether good thing, suggesting that the genre isn’t as trivial as we suspected, but what it actually discovers is that entertainment formats are simply not equipped to handle this level of political discourse. Many of the results have been frankly insulting.

paris

Jean Oliver!

Take, for instance, Chris Hardwick’s gabbled epilogue of pseudo-Churchillian platitudes no doubt compiled from a graphic novel about Dunkirk in the closing moments of AMC’s Talking Dead, a post-show discussion of The Walking Dead. This resembled one of those rushed disclaimers at the end of pharmaceutical commercials. For events of this magnitude, you either have time to talk about them or you don’t. I’m all in favour – as my younger self would not have been – of cancelling scheduled shows in favour of extended news coverage, though this is one of the few times that a 24-hour news cycle is justified in my view. TNT made the decision to postpone the broadcast of an episode of Sean Bean vehicle Legends set in Paris, which though it may appear overly-sensitive also takes into account the fact that a terrorist act is represented. CBS’ Supergirl and NCIS: Los Angeles also shelved episodes that involved bombings and terrorists. Networks tend to err on the side of caution in these instances, reducing TV to a set of trending keywords and then disseminating entire programs that use them incidentally. It’s one of the few occasions that networks admit outright that their programming is not socially responsible.

Some responses were more judicious. As you might expect from our ironic culture of news, parodies of broadcast journalism did far better than the real thing in their treatment of the attacks. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver kept the talk of war cultural, badgering ISIS into taking on the global leaders of art, food and music with their apocalyptic asceticism. While this is one of the few shows on TV that had the time and scope to offer a full account of the attacks and their significance, the suddenness of the events and their proximity to airtime meant that the program was safer – and more effective – to be as schoolboy as possible in its response, exploiting the other boutique quality of HBO: Obscenity. While broader as befits its appeal, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert adopted a similar tact, leaving it to New Orleans-based house jazz band Jean Baptiste and Stay Human to pay tribute to the French origins of their musical culture. Colbert has always played both sides of the American political sphere and, whether scheduled or not, the pairing of Bill Maher and Medal of Honor recipient Flobert Groberg kept the extremists on both sides at bay.

Vive la Rat!

Vive la Rat!

But what made Colbert’s response particularly powerful was its self-reflexive commentary on how to respond to events such as these. There was an affectionate poke at the tweeters who had the combination of compassion and ignorance that makes watching Ratatouille an act of solidarity with the French and a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the dilemma over whether to keep the booking of feline circus act The Acro-Cats on the first show since the attacks. Since taking over from Letterman at CBS, Colbert has made himself a defender of both American high culture and light entertainment, and so the ISIS attacks were a real (surely unwanted) test of his mettle in his dual function as cultural commentator and ringmaster, which he passed with high-flying colours. Colbert is unusually thoughtful for a talk show host, Oliver a journalistic powerhouse. It’s the ones who think they’re being thoughtful through acknowledgment that are the problem.

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