Programming note

4 07 2014

Between the ages of 0-13, it was my mothers’ mission to keep me from becoming a couch potato. We had a TV that was used for rented VHS from the library. We had a pair of antennae that picked up a grand total of 3 stations. CBC, a fuzzy local CTV, and a French channel.

Guess what happened?

Liberation and a revelation. Eventually, we got a cable hook up – and I began to watch TV like a religion. Like a habit. Like a hobby. I went on the study mass media and film in University. My first job? A runner at the CBC. My second job? Communications and copy writing for a film and TV studio in Toronto.

Guess what I still want to do every night, any night, when I get home from work? TV is a hobby. I am not ashamed of that. I’ve read some statistics that suggest 99% of the western world has a TV set. This is a bigger hobby than soccer, football, scrap booking or piano lessons.

I started this blog to have that conversation. To talk about the hours of enjoyment I can thank my TV for. To pay tribute to what it has given me: a window to the world, a good laugh, a good cry, monumental news and events, curiosity, a lullaby as I fall asleep and a common bond with so many friends and fellow-watchers around the world.

While I have stepped away from nightly recaps and commentary – rest assured I have not abandoned my TV habits. Nor should you. Keep watching, keep enjoying, keep talking about what lights up your screen every night.

Feel free to leave comments TV hobbyists. It has been a pleasure to spend my TVnights with you.

To be continued…





X Factor: Top 4

13 12 2012

We are getting very close to seeing the finales for all our favourite shows… The Voice,  Factor, Survivor will all come to a  conclusion in the coming week just in time for the Christmas Yule log.

The X Factor performance show featured 2 songs by each of the Top 4 contestants, both carefully selected by their Mentors. Do we still believe that Britney Spears is making any decisions on her own at this point? I guess if we actually believe that they are showing us the real ‘rankings’ every week, we can believe anything. Neither here nor there… the Mentors are still apparently guiding the path of their proteges in their infinite wisdom.

Let’s begin with Tate Stevens:

Song 1: Bonfire

There’s nothing Americans love more, than a down-home country tune, sung by a man who loves his wife, reads the bible and wears the you-know-what out of a cowboy hat. Tate Stevens knows that. So what is his plan to win this show? Sing good ole fashioned country songs about the good ole fashioned country boys sitting around a bonfire drinkin’ American beer on a Saturday night (but tomorrow, they’ll all go to church with their mammas). . that can’t hurt his chances ;)

Song 2: Fall

Smooth, very smooth. His vocals were smooth, and so was the idea to show footage of he and his high-school sweetheart wife as he performed. It has always been Tate’s back story that has made him such a compelling individual. He knows his audience, he knows his voice, he’s ready to make an album. No, he’s not my favourite – but I have to admit that every time he takes the stage, he does so with a seasoned professionalism that every other contestant lacks. Oh, and he also has a wife and kids… which never hurts.

5th Harmony

Song 1: Anything Can Happen

I think this was the first time we’ve seen 5th Harmony work a ‘production’ – we very rarely see them step outside their 5-across formation. They were starting to remind me of the 3 Tenors, so I was very pleased to see them interact with stage settings and props. How nice of Katy Perry to donate her candyland set to the show. These girls can ‘SANG’. Every single girl could be a star in her own right, each having spotlight moments in each performance. I like this direction for them combining art, drama, fashion but never losing their ‘voice’.

Song 2: Impossible

There are a ka-jillion songs in the global songbook to choose from, Simon (the genius producer), suggests that his struggling girl group song a song they’ve already performed. He doesn’t offer any suggestion about how to make it different or better, the only obvious change was including sections of Spanish lyric – which was not even his idea. It needed to be shaken up, to show how much they’ve improved, how far they’ve come, the kind of artist they will be. This song lacked their name-sake harmonies, and it definitely felt flat after their energetic first song. No one can deny their talent, but even Simon knows they will need a miracle of biblical proportion to beat out 3 cute beach-blond boys, a country singing American dream, and a young singing-phenom.

Emblem 3

Song 1: Baby I love Your Way

I will preface this by warning you, that I hate this song. Unless Emblem3 had blown it to pieces and made it a completely different and modern version, I was always going to hate this performance. And I did. I hated the song, but I am also growing very tired of watching this group perform. It’s a formula. Wave your arms, crouch and reach out to the audience, jump, send a boy into the crowd, back to formation. It doesn’t really matter that I was not a fan, because the judges seemed to think this was the quintessential XFactor winning performance. Sigh. #idisagree

Song 2: Hey Jude

I get defensive when it comes to covering Beatles music. Some things are sacred. Every once and awhile, a performer on one of these shows will take on a Beatles song and do it justice… but when I heard Emblem3 was singing Hey Jude, I was not optimistic. The entire video segment built of the story line that the youngest beach boy needed to step up his game and take the lead on this tune – letting out a classic McCartney scream at the end of the song. I was waiting for it… he sang one line at the end of the song, and it was hardly even a decibel over the screams of the 13 year old girls in the audience. So, for Demi and LA to compare these boys to The Fab Four, is just ludicrous. In fact, it’s irresponsible and irreverant. I need to move on… #hotandbothered

Carly Rose Sonenclaire 

Song 1: Your Song

Right. Britney Spears chose Elton John for her little songbird. Carly Rose is coming off a big week – she was covering new songs and giving them the Carly treatment, knocking them out of the park with big notes and smooth runs. Your Song is a classic, but it is not the kind of song Carly Rose should be singing. She may be an old-soul, but she can’t sing old songs and stay current. Elton John had a stellar voice in the 70’s, and even he would tell you that this was not a power singer’s song… if she was adamant about choosing something from the Elton John collection, how about My Fathers Gun?

Song 2: Imagine

Right. Britney Spears chose John Lennon. I simply refuse to believe this. You now know how I feel about amateurs taking on The Beatles. The problem I had was NOT Carly Rose’s vocal on a song I deem virtually untouchable, it was the arrangement of the song. She stuck in big notes and fabricated big moments in a song that was NEVER intended to win someone a talent competition. It’s not a competition song, it’s a song that invites you to quietly reflect on the state of the world. I might be the only song that cannot be elevated by a big voice, or a big note.

I don’t think Carly Rose is in danger – I think her past performances will give her momentum. She benefits from the mis-steps of Simon’s girl-group this week.

Thoughts?





My Christmas Programming Rant 2012

11 12 2012

Preface: I love Christmas. It’s my absolute FAVOURITE time of the year. I love the music so much that I listen to it non-stop starting Dec.1 and I sing along when I’m wandering through malls and shopping the aisles of grocery stores. I spend way too much money, but I don’t care. I deal with credit cards in the off-season. I go nuts decorating my house, and berate the people in my neighbourhood without adequate light displays. I send Elf Yourself ecards. I have special ‘once-a-year’ Christmas socks. I will buy any food product that is ‘Candy Cane flavoured’. I still have trouble falling to sleep on Christmas Eve, and I still wake up before dawn just to lay awake watching the ceiling until it is an acceptable hour to get the family up.

So to be perfectly clear… I love Christmas.

Now…

That being said. (Feel free to re-read the Preface before continuing…)

I am NOT a fan of how TV networks deal with Christmas. Let me explain. Somehow I envision the TV execs getting together to pitch Holiday programming, and that it might go a little something like this:

Exec 1 “Here is a list of all the (XYZ) network celebrities that signed their big TV contracts without reading the fine print.”

Exec. 2 “Here is a list of every potential scenario we’ve come up with for 6-episode Game Shows”

Exec 3 “Here are the celebrities with Christmas Albums dropping this year”

Exec 1 “Attach as many (XYZ) network celebrities to either host, or judge these shows. Add performances by any celebrity with a Christmas album.”

Exec 3 : What should we do about the rest of the list?

Exec 1: Give them their own Christmas special.

 

No, I did NOT watch ‘Take it All‘ last night. I also steered clear of Extreme Home Makeover: The Holiday edition… and I found myself finding reasons to leave the room when The Voice became a Holiday Sing-along and Promo for Blake Shelton Christmas album and Michael Buble’s Christmas Special.

There’s cheeseball Christmas, like faberge ornaments and Rudolf the Red Nosed reindeer in stop motion. Then there’s insulting Christmas, like weepy specials that exploit the poor, the sick or the families of military just to get a reaction. These shows are ratings gold mines because they pull everything else OFF the air to make room for them.

…and when was the last time you watched a Christmas Special without feeling a little uncomfortable about the level of cheeseball you were enduring? It’s not natural, and there is a reason why they can only get away with airing this stuff once a year.

The reason? People like me, and perhaps, people like you. We become the Christmas versions of ourselves this time of the year. The more patient, the more accepting, the more easily entertained by an off-key children’s choir on a paper mache float.

Sigh…

As much as I can get on my soapbox and demand reform, I can’t promise that I won’t get sucked in by a caroling competition featuring inner-city at-risk youth. I’m not a martyr. I simply wish that networks could find a way to ‘keep Christmas’ without assaulting us with overt Holiday filler… sponsored by your favourite soft drink.





The Joys of Christmas Programming

10 12 2012

Falalalalala -lala-lala

Tis the Season.

I watched a Home Alone Marathon last night… as a result, I set a marble trap at my door before I went to bed. Just in case. They’ll never outsmart the well-prepared.

The signs of Christmas are all around us – I’m not really referring to Christmas trees, lights or the occasional flurry, I’m much more interested with what the networks have come up with to keep us tuned in this Christmas. They bank on us forgetting how MUCH we hate Christmas specials hosted by marginal celebrities and their even more marginal friends (I’m talking about you Blake Shelton…). They KNOW that we’ll forget how excruciating it is to sit through a Holiday parade… unless it’s muted. Otherwise, you have to listen to the cheese-ball announcers pretend their degree in Journalism was worth it.  And they consider us to be naively entertained by any ‘new’ special, game show or filler episode on TV between Thanksgiving and New Years that has anything to do with Christmas, giving, or singing. They wouldn’t spend a dime on this rot if we didn’t fall for it… every year.

This year?

Extreme Home Makeover takes over the TV for 2 hours every Monday for a  SPECIAL Holiday edition. 2 hours. Remember when Extreme Home Makeover was an HGTV show, and the most compelling part of the show was the big reveal? Now its a show that spends 1:45 minutes forcing waterworks from even the coldest of hearts. Just when you thought a story couldn’t get anymore tragic… they throw in a terminal illness, or a war veteran. And just so we are clear on the semantics… a makeover is working with what you’ve got to make it better. Ty and crew do NOT ‘Makeover’ – they tear down and build mortgage busting mansions that would make King Louis XIV jealous. Just sayin’.

Today, I look at the TV line up for this evening (yes, i start planning my attack at 8am, don’t you dare judge.) and see a new show that I don’t recognize airing after the Voice on NBC. The show is called ‘Take it All‘ – it’s a limited -run gameshow, and it’s hosted by… wait for it, in fact, I could give you 3 guesses and you’d nail it in one… Howie Mandell.

Howie Mandell – who says the show is, and I quote, “The Price is Right meets Jerry Springer“. That sounds like afternoon programming at the retirement estates in Crocketbluff, Arkansas. Or what’s on a loop in the 7th ring of hell. Either or…

That’s not all ladies and gents… after an hour of this insult to intelligence, stay on NBC for the sophomore season of Michael Buble Christmas – featuring his famous pals, Carly Rae Jepson (Grammy nominated… don’t shoot the messenger), Rod Stewart (yep, still living) and Blake Shelton (who did he sell his soul to?).

Oh it’s on. It’s officially the Christmas season – when TV gets really really bad, and we don’t care.

What are YOU watching tonight?





AGT: Group 4 Results

26 07 2012

Sigh of relief.

After a night full of fabulous entertainment and quality acts… I was worried about a few of my favourites as the results were read on AGT last night.

I’m also ALWAYS worried that ‘America’ is seeing something different than I am. It has certainly seemed that way at times.

So when MY Top 4 from last night made it through… sigh of relief. vindication. justice.

The audience saw the genius in William Close, the artist in Joe Castillo, the extraordinary talent of the Olate Dogs, and the mystery of the man called Dittelman.

Those were my Top 4 last night, and they were the 4 to advance to the next rounds.

We’ll have to wait a little while before that happens… The Olympics will take over your airwaves 24/7 starting tomorrow and ending in 2 weeks.

Oh, and and Sharon promised The Cloggers that they would be one of her selections for the Wild Card. I’m sure there will be a few more from this group selected for another shot at the Finals.





The Bachelorette: Finale and ATFR

23 07 2012

You found this blog, which means, you have internet access. Check out my deductive reasoning!

So you already know… Emily chose Jef on the Bachelorette Finale last night.

You didn’t really come to my blog to find out ‘the winner’ – you came to discuss last night’s finale and ATFR.

Did you sit through all 3 hours of the Bachelorette last night? I did. And I’ll probably sit through 2 hours of the bachelor Pad tonight… sad right? But it’s Monday night, and it’s the summer. There’s nothing else on and they KNOW it! It’s the ABC Monday night formula: DWTS, Bachelor/Bachelorette, Bachelor Pad… start again.

SO let’s talk about last night.

Here’s my question:

If Arie had received the first ‘last’ date after the two met the Parents… would HE have met Ricki, and would HE have been the ultimate ‘winner’. Was he a victim of…timing? of production? of editing? Or had Emily already made up her mind, requesting the show to work the way it did… Jef getting the first date, meeting Ricki and sealing the deal.

An interesting thought.

ONE guy got to meet Ricki – after that, it was all over.

Jef has never been my favourite to ‘win’. I struggled with his school-boy crush attitude he adopted every time he was with Emily. You’re a grown woman, with a child, who has had your share of romance… does it really sweep you off your feet to hear a guy say he was ‘scared’ to kiss you? Is that endearing? Or it that ‘behind the portables at recess’? I just didnt get…them.

However, I also know how much of this show is scripted, edited to tell a ‘story’, and only seconds of a relationship that manifests itself without cameras rolling. I know this. Therefore, I can’t analyse their relationship based on what I’ve seen every Monday night.

ATFR was useless – it followed the exact same format as every other. “When are you getting married” “What do you love about each other” “How does it feel to be public about your relationship?” “is that a Neil Lane rock on your finger?”

Probably the most interesting story line that unfolded last night…was the Ari rejection drama.

Emily showed up at her final date with Arie, and choked out a rejection instead. Arie’s reaction was extremely realistic. As in, I felt like we were watching a real moment between a man and a woman ending a relationship that was unexpected and emotional. Follow that up with a face-to-face ATFR, where we hear that Arie tried to reach out after the show… and Emily would have no part in it. Emily has shown strength and poise through this entire process, however, she seriously lacks the ability to just… say the hard stuff. She could NOT verbalize her feelings to Arie when she was breaking up with him, and she could not bring herself to properly explain her relationship with Jef to him…even now!

So there was a fair share of drama last night – the question of whether this couple will last is moot. They have the same chance as any other… The Franchise doesn’t exactly have a sterling reputation for developing long lasting relationships.

Thoughts?

 





SYTYCD Season 9 Top 20

19 07 2012

The All-New format of SYTYCD Season 9 made it’s debut last night.

If you’ve read my blog in the past, you’ll know that I have very little patience for ‘Elimination Shows’. The results could be read in 2 minutes, yet at times, we are forced to sit through a full HOUR of ‘fluff’ – yes, shameless movie and upcoming TV show promotions, oh look whose in the audience, D- list performances by people who are coincidentally releasing a new album or going on tour, commercial breaks, video montages, recaps of what we JUST saw the night before… DWTS has this inane format down to a Japanese war torturous tee.

Results shows are useless – and SYTYCD has just proven, that the performances and the results (plus a few shameless plugs for SYTYCD: The Movie… errr, Step Up something) can all fit together in a neatly compact, 2-hour package. Ground breaking television.

So all the dancers performed in pairs again this week – and the bottom 6 from last wee’s performances were picked from the bunch to face elimination at the hands of the judges. Democracy is overrated. America always makes the wrong decision in these situations, I’m perfectly happy to give that power back to the hands of the Sovereign judging panel.

Let’s talk about last night’s performances:

Cole/Lindsey – a Jazzy/Hip Hop number about a nerd going to the dentist. Who knew there would be a perfect song for that scenario. It was a SYTYCD kinda dance. Good characters, high energy, kinda goofy but technically very sound – great way to start the show! Um, you’ve heard of Twi-hards? Cole is a little bit of a ‘TRY-hard’, and I think he needs to snap out of it. Getting into character is one thing, pretending you are NOT in character, but that the character has embodied you is an entirely different and awkward viewing situation. I did not connect with him AFTER the dance, which means I wouldn’t necessary vote for him. The dance was good, his odd personality may have been a turn off.

Amelia and Will – performed the first Sonya Tayeh routine of the evening to perfection. Both dancers were salivating at the chance to work with such a unique and quirky choreographer (Mia Michaels who?) and they embraced that opportunity with every fibre. This pair is an early favourite. They both received a lot of help from the editing crew, giving them camera time during audition stages. They also have the ability to scale up or scale down their individual oddities. When the dance calls for it (like in last weeks performance) they can be borderline kooky… but when the dance calls for honesty and true technique, both can deliver.

Amber/Nick – Tango. Who drew the short straw? To make matters worse, Amber admitted in her pre-dance video that she was having trouble ‘connecting’ with her partner “Like oil and bubblegum”. Guess what? it showed. Amber out-danced her partner, and the routine was seriously lacking the tension or sizzle of a sexy tango. One last kick in the teeth? This was Nick’s genre. Ouch.

Time for another Sonya Tayeh routine…

Audrey and Matthew were human robots in love… or something. Anyways they were wearing a lot of make up, and the style of the dance was hard-hitting and less fluid than Sonya’s previous effort. If I have to be honest, I enjoyed her first piece far better. I didn’t really see the story line (if there was any) in this routine, and the dancers did not attack each move the way ti was probably intended. The judges liked it, but then, you should hear them talk about Step Up 4 (or whatever). I wasn’t a huge fan of this piece, I don’t know if it was the dancers or the choreography.

Janelle and Dareian- danced a lyrical Hip Hop routine to ‘My Girl’. It had SO much potential to be another SYTYCD classic. The clothes, the song, the characters. The judges were BANG on in my opinion. This routine lacked material. It was too simple, too academic… a let down for the dancers. There’s not much you can do to augment poor choreography. In fact, I think they knew it was sub-par, and tried to make the number more interesting by adding a smooch at the end. This would not have been a bad performance… on season 1. The level of dance has risen exponentially each season, and this dance didn’t cut it. BUT… I still enjoyed the refreshing simplicity of a cute song, cue clothes, and a cute story.

Janaya and Brandon – picked my favourite dance style from the board… Broadway! This Sean Cheeseman routine was EVERYTHING you want to see in a Broadway performance. A perfect blend of character, story and dance. These two danced this routine to perfection – both were strong in character and pulled off some tough choreography without breaking the illusion. This was the dance I wanted ‘My Girl’ to be.

Eliana and Glitch – were put to the test with a high-tempo Jive… a style Glitch has never encountered or studied. Shocker! It was not very quick, it was not very precise or snappy (the way I like to see my Jives). He has the capacity for it, I just think a week was not long enough to build confidence in his abilities, or to work his own style into the dance. The choreographers had Eliana dance AROUND him for the majority of the time, and gave him plenty of lifts to showcase strength over technique. Good move… he did not come across as completely out of his league.

Daniel and Alexa – Can I just make an observation about this couple? They look like the dance version of Emily and Sean on the Bachelorette. Non? C’mon, you totally see it now, right? In terms of a critique, I had a few issue with this piece. First, I think choreographers need to tone down the hair flipping, body flinging back and forth style that has become standard in contemporary routines. It gives me motion sickness… and in this piece, it went a little over board for me. Also, I had never warmed to Alexa, and I feel that she was once again a little bit ‘in her  head’ and not connecting with her partner or the audience.

Tiffany and George – Drew the shortest straw and were left with the Foxtrot. The dreaded foxtrot. how can you compete with kicks and flips and “genius” contemporary pieces with an out-dated, simple ballroom routine? Well, it is slightly novelty, which can help. Also, the judges will give out HIGH praise for a decent Foxtrot. If you can be successful in channeling Astaire/Rogers , and you look good in ballgowns and tails… you might just have a winner. Last night the judges gave ‘mad props’ to this pair for pulling off a classic ballroom routine. I was slightly underwhelmed.

Witney and Chehon – were given a very difficult task. Master Bollywood in a week. Give them a lot of credit, they both put in extra hours of research and practice to ensure accuracy. And they NAILED it! There is nothing better than watching a high energy, artfully crafted Bollywood routine. It has become one of my favourite styles. Russian dancing didn’t ‘catch’, but I hope Bollywood is here to stay! What a great way to end the show…

Oh wait! Shows not over…

Results!

Nigel assures us this is all about love, not war. Or something. Dancers are not ‘eliminated’ they are just not America’s favourite. Dancers aren’t voted ‘off’ they are voted to be kept ‘on’. Get it?

So the bottom 6 vote getters…

Girls: Janaya , Alexa  and Whitney 

Boys:  Chehon, Nick and Daniel.

Based on a collaboration between the choreographers and the judges, they chose to SAVE (love not war):

Whitney and Chehon

thoughts?

 








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