Friday, March 30, 2007

Good comments, folks

Great discussion yesterday on the tornado coverage. I think we got good arguments from all sides. One thing I was wondering about: If the local stations are going to be serious about covering the towns out on the plains (or at least the severe weather out on the plains), shouldn't they hire some stringers out there, or station a reporter a little closer to the action?

Holly is like 200 miles away from here -- it's barely in the same state. I understand why we're all interested in it -- there's absolutely nothing between here and there so we're the closest major city. But the plains get tornados pretty regularly and if the TV stations are going to cover them, it seems like it would behoove them to have somebody with a camera out where the storms are happening.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Tell me what you think about KRDO last night

OK, on the one hand, the Holly tornado turned into a pretty big story, so KRDO ought to get a nod for staying with it. On the other hand, they didn't have a reporter on the scene and they didn't have much information and they kept reporting fatalities when there weren't any (props to KKTV for getting the story straight), so big demerits for screwing up "Lost" instead of sticking with a crawl and a few break-ins.

I mean, an hour and a half solid of Matt Meister talking about weather maps? I'm pretty supportive of local news when they decide to take risks, but KRDO didn't have their ducks in a row to back up that committment.

KKTV broke in at 9 when it was clear how bad things were in Holly and they kept a crawl going. That seemed like the best way to handle things to me. KOAA, on the other hand, went too light, with no break-ins that I saw and no crawl after about 8:30.

What do you think?

Worst "Lost" ever?

Admittedly, we all missed 15 minutes or so with KRDO going weather-crazy, but even so, I'm pretty confident saying that "Lost" blew big, hard chunks. So they introduced these two characters in a totally unbelievable way so that they could kill them off (presumably) in an equally unbelievable way that had nothing to do with the larger plot. What an utter waste.

Under other circumstances, the Hitchockian death scene might have been sort of chilling (assuming Vincent or somebody doesn't dig them back up in two weeks), but really it just underlined what a waste the whole thing was.

BTW, it was funny seeing Kelly MacMullan this morning telling people they could get the whole episode on the ABC Web site. I'm guessing they got a couple of calls.

Not so sly

That was just about the perfect "American Idol" results show: The three singers you expected to be in the bottom three were in the bottom three (Sanjaya is in his own category, so he doesn't count). Phil, who did the best job, got to sit down and then Chris, who did the worst job, was sent home. Perfect. Boring, but perfect.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Commence drooling... now

In the mail today: The first two episodes of the final "Sopranos." No, I haven't watched yet. I may not for a couple of days, just to drive all the fans at the office who want to borrow the DVD cuh-razy. I can be mean like that.
UPDATE: I guess David Chase and company wanted to eeeeease us back into things. The first episode is sloooooooooooooooow. So very sloooooooooow. Charitably, you could describe it as setting up future action. Things get rolling in the second one, although there's still as many mobsters dying of old age as there are of bullets.
Speaking of HBO, last night's "Rome" finale was tremendous. That episode covered like eight years or something of real history (it's been awhile since Prof. Ferrell's Roman History 303), but it delivered, I think, one of the best final episodes in TV history. If you don't have HBO or didn't pick up on this series, definitely catch it on DVD.

Finally, the "Battlestar Galactica" season finale was pretty amazing. I won't even try to explain -- if you're at all open to the idea of "Battlestar Galactica," you're watching by now. Better than a hundred "Grey's Anatomys" though, I can tell you that. And no more until 2008. That's "Sopranos-esque."

Friday, March 23, 2007

CTU joining forces with DHS?

This is deeply weird:

The Homeland Security Department and the military this summer will test whether drones flying 65,000 feet above the nation's busiest airports could be used to protect planes from being shot down by terrorists with shoulder-fired missiles.
Dubbed "Project Chloe" after a character on Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's favorite TV show, 24, the anti-missile strategy is the latest to be explored by government leaders looking to thwart potential missile threats at commercial airports. Other methods are being considered, but Homeland Security officials say they may be too costly or impractical.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

My eyes! My eyes!

It'll come as no surprise that writing about television is normally a pretty fun job. Getting to see all the shows before they air, not needing to pay for HBO or Showtime, getting paid to watch TV -- it doesn't suck.

But there's a downside. Oh yes.

They don't call it the idiot-box for nothing. America's television studios, producers, actors and writers are capable of coming up with some dreadful dreck. Case in point: A new NBC summer series called "Thank God You're Here."
It's supposedly an improv comedy show, just like "Whose Line is it Anyway?" except not, you know, funny. Actually, excruciatingly not, you know, funny. And, oddly, much of it seems to be scripted. Weird. The gag is that every skit begins with a guest improv actor walking cold into a scene that begins, "Thank God you're here!" And that's as close to comedy as the show gets.

Anyhoo, host David Alan Grier is evidently out to prove that he's the least-funny man in showbidness and normally funny guest actors like Wayne Knight, Jennifer Coolidge, Bryan Cranston and Joel McHale (OK, not exactly A-listers, but still, funny), embarrass themselves in front of a bemused studio audience. Dave Foley judges the results.

I spend this much time telling you about it so that you can steer well clear. Or have only yourself to blame if you don't.

Still Lost?

Well, last night's episode certainly had my office buzzing this morning. I liked it. Taking the ubiquitous "Lost" daddy issues to another level (specifically, the 7th floor), tying up loose ends, blowing up submarines.

Anyone taking odds that Locke's Dad is the con man that scammed Sawyer's mother? Seems like a no-brainer to me.

And the political dynamics within the Others are getting sort of interesting (so naturally we're headed back to the beach next week).


No real surprises on "Idol," except seeing Chris in the bottom two. Like Ace last year, though, it's proof that it takes more than being cute to stay in the race.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Idol idle

Light posting this week, 'cause I'm spending most of my time wiping my nose and chewing throat lozeneges. But still, Blake looked pretty good last night, didn't he? And, as big a Melinda fan as I am, if she can't adapt anything from the British invasion to her style, it doesn't speak well of her pop crossover potential, does it?

Monday, March 19, 2007

VCR+ codes

We stopped running the VCR+ codes in our weekly TV guide this week. Short explanation: Not many people use those anymore and the VCR+ people charge us to print them (which seems stupid).

Anyway, if you or someone you know still uses the system, you can generate codes yourself with this handy dandy applet:

A reader I was working through this with told me those numbers seemed to work (although you need the correct cable conversion for whichever channel you're punching up), so let me know if anyone has a problem with them.

Friday, March 16, 2007

What the heck is a newpeat?

We were having arguments around the office this morning about whether last night's "Office" was a repeat or not.
As it happens, it was a "newpeat," where the producers took an episode from... January I think? and added a bunch of deleted scenes and stuff. So the scene at the end with Andy at anger management was new, along with a bunch of the Pam and Jim stuff and a couple other things.
Although apparently they still left out yet another deleted scene in which Jim tells Michael that Andy's being a suckup. It's all very complicated.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

October Road headed for a fall?

In today's TV Talk, I talked with Manitou Springs (well, Cascade, technically) actor Geoff Stults about his new ABC drama "October Road," which premieres at 9 p.m. today. Since I was interviewing rather than reviewing, let's let the critics have a say about Geoff's new show:

"Chockablock with cliches, sappy melodrama, paper-thin characterizations and affected dialogue, ABC’s “October Road”plays like a bad parody of a CW or Fox prime-time soap. Entire dissertations could be written on how much this show gets wrong,and how badly."

"October Road” opens on a photo of Kurt Cobain, but don’t expect to find much rock ’n’ roll in this humdrum prodigal-son soap opera. I kept waiting for the unexpected beat, the surprising plot riff, the inverted cliche, but they never came. The ABC drama, which premieres Thursday night at10, just plodded predictably down the middle of the road, uninspired, witless, tired."

"Here, I guess, is a dude’s version of an ABC chick show. No other network has 20- to 40-year-olds probing themselves quite so searchingly as ABC these days; they must be putting something in the lattes over there. Side effects include but not limited to: mooning, yearning, dry mouth. Might also swear you hear that song by Collective Soul playing somewhere."

"You certainly won’t want to rush home to watch “October Road.”The show, after all, is achingly earnest, frustratingly predictable and, at times, laughably bad. It’s hard to take a series that features characters saying ridiculous lines like “maturity is the destination” seriously. Nothing in this well-intentioned misfire feels real."

Um. Ouch.

On the plus side, Geoff did say there was a movie he was working on and excited about. And there'll always be more TV pilots.

One review did contain this gem, which I didn't think of, but wish I did: "Geoff Stults, looking disconcertingly like Peter Krause."

True? You decide:

Lame Lost

Next week looks somewhat intriguing, though. Unlike, say, Jack's tattoos, I actually sorta wonder why Locke is in the wheelchair. They've been pumping that mystery for two seasons: It's time for some payoff.
I didn't care about the Claire flashbacks -- we all already knew Jack is Claire's brother. I wish Charlie would go ahead and die already, and the Sayid-Locke stuff was a waste of time.
I did like the closer, with Jack playing football. That was a pretty good set-up, with him running for the woods, and then pulling up to catch the ball. Funny.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What KXRM's new morning show can only dream of achieving

Really, an excellent model for local news everywhere.

The Riche$

I'm late to the game on FX's new drama "The Riches" -- the show premiered Monday night -- but I finally caught it on the Web last night and I was very impressed.
Brits Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver play a pair of grifters who take over the lives of a wealthy lawyer and his wife.
With its fish out of water premise and Izzard, you'd think the show would be closer to "Trading Places" than "The Sopranos," but even the funny situations here are played very seriously, very gloomily. Despite that, "The Riches" offers a compelling psychological portrayal of both the Malloys and the upper-middle class suburban lifestyle they stumble into.

Maybe it's because they're both British, but Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver bring just the right touch of "in the world, but not of it," to their family of grifters (technically, Irish Travellers here).

Again, this is compelling stuff. Check it out.
UPDATE: Viewers seem to agree with me. For once. "The Riches" pulled more than 3.8 million viewers for its debut, over 5 million with the repeats. That's pretty good for FX.

American Idle

I was expecting big things from a Diana Ross night - at least from Melinda and LaKisha. Intead: A boring, boring night. I know the judges always bash contestants that mess with the classics, but that wasn't the problem with Chris Sligh and Blake Lewis. It's that their arrangements sucked. Mel and LaK both sang well, but not well enough to keep me from seeing what else was on (nothing, if you're wondering. Nobody even tries to counter-program Idol anymore).

This is a really tough season for viewers. There's only two singers worth listening to and we've got 12 weeks still to go. I think it's on the producers to tweak the format to make what isn't really a contest into something that at least resembles interesting television.
And if Brandon (right) doesn't go home tonight, there is something rotten in Denmark.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

KXRM adding morning newscast

Local Fox affiliate KXRM/Channel 21 announced that it would start a three-hour morning news show beginning Aug. 6.

News director Joe Cole said the new program would run from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. — the other local morning news shows switch to network news at 7 a.m.

“It’s a chance for us to become more of a news player in the market,” Cole said. “We do hope to provide somewhat of a different feel, especially in those last two hours.”

KXRM will hire two news anchors, a weather forecaster, a reporter, two producers and an editor to staff the new show.

“As long as we get some good journalists in the building, I don’t think we’ll have a problem,” Cole said. “I’m pretty proud of what we do at 9 p.m.”

KXRM launched its own news department last fall, taking over the 9 p.m. broadcast that had been produced by KKTV/Channel 11, hiring a staff and building a studio.

The Fox network produces its own national morning show, but KXRM doesn’t plan to add that program.

TV Talk off to Thursdays

If you saw the TV page this morning, hopefully you noticed my note saying that the TV Talk column will now run on the Thursday Life cover. It should be a little easier to find there.

We're kicking off the change with a pretty good column, if I say so myself. I interviewed Geoff Stults, the pride of Cascade, about his new ABC show "October Road," which premieres Thursday. Geoff's a fun guy, honest and a total motormouth, so I couldn't squeeze the whole interview into the paper. I'll post a few deleted scenes, if you will, on the blog Thursday.

There's a rip in the fabric of "24" spacetime

I hadn't watched "24" for a few weeks. With no "Heroes" last night, my wife wanted to catch up, so we sat down and watched the last couple of episodes. I gotta say, even by "24's" extremely lax standards, this season is spinning out of control.

Sometimes in a good way: The sheer comedy of Logan going to his wife to call the wife of the Russian president to avert a crisis in the middle of a nuclear holocaust was pretty great.

What wasn't good, at least for me, was the way the show seems to have abandoned even the pretence of its ticking clock premise. I mean, sure it's ridiculous that Jack never hits traffic, or goes to the bathroom, or loses cell phone reception. But if you're willing to accept that, the show usually played more or less by the rules.

Last night, there were a couple of scenes where clearly 10 or 15 minutes had to have passed, but the show cut straight from one scene to the next. The ambulance arriving for Logan within 30 seconds comes to mind. Did the Enterprise beam it there? And the vice president seems to have landed Air Force One directly inside the Presidential bunker. That's a pretty good trick, too.

I know, I know, it's fantasy. But since the show got to set up its own rules in the first place, it seems to me it ought to be willing to play by them.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


I just saw this on the Fox Web site, and I have no idea what it's about. Although I can guess.
"Without wishing to add to the obvious self-promotion of Ms. O'Donnell, I feel as though I must refute her absurd and ridiculous claims that AMERICAN IDOL is racist and/or weightist."Ms. O’Donnell has, once again, spoken without thought or knowledge. Viewers need only look at the show tonight to realize that AMERICAN IDOL constantly confirms to America that talent has
nothing to do with weight or color." Nigel Lythgoe, Executive Producer, AMERICAN IDOL

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

My word!

I was just looking at last week's Nielsen ratings: Fox had the top SIX shows. Three "Idols" followed by three "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Graders?"

That's dominant. And a little frightening.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Tuesday night recap

Who's going home on Idol? I'm guessing Phil, even though I sort of like him, and I think Sanjaya's luck will finally run out. I'm still pulling for Blake, and I did like Head's Pearl Jam.

Dystonia on "House" tonight. That's interesting. Plus, Dave Matthews makes a pretty good savant.

BTW, I had a busy day today and didn't get to it, but man, that was a great "Heroes" last night. They really showed "Lost" how to juggle a bunch of storylines and do it right. Liked the Mrs. Petrelli reveal, liked Ando's deux ex machina, liked Nathan's sudden signs of humanity, liked Suresh and Sylar being stupid, hated Malcolm MacDowell as Linderman -- way too obvious a casting choice.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Sunday night fun at the Epstein household

Gazette entertainment editor Warren Epstein waxes rhapsodic about the resugence of "Desperate Housewives":
"Desperate Housewives" is back on track this season.

Although the narration from the dead lady is still poorly written and annoying (and was even more annoying this week when it was subbed by narration from a dead husband), the Susan-Mike-Ian love trangle has new life. The pizza place raises all kinds of fascinating issues for Tom and Lynette.

And poor, single Gabby has found an interesting foil in this congressional candidate.

The show continues to be twisted, mysterious, and oh, so familiar to anyone who's lived in suburbia.

"So familiar to anyone who's lived in suburbia" apparently means life in Manitou is livelier than I thought!

This just in from KOAA...

Press release:

Three years ago, KOAA-TV began providing Southern Colorado’s first 24-hour, local weather channel, Weather First Now. Currently available on Comcast channel 9 in Colorado Springs and Comcast digital channel 247 in Pueblo, Weather First Now will soon evolve to become “News First Now,” your 24-hour, local news and weather source. This evolution includes the launch of newscasts in three new time periods – 4, 7, and 9pm.
These newscasts will be produced and provided by News First 5/30, Southern Colorado’s News Leader. The same quality and depth that have consistently made News First the highest-rated, oft-awarded local news product can be seen on News First Now starting Monday, June 4, 2007.

“This news expansion is part of our continuing commitment to serve as our community’s news leader,” says Cindy Aubrey, News Director. “We strive to have the information people need and want at times and in places that it’s most helpful and convenient.”

“Launching these news products obviously represents an evolution for Weather First Now,” according to Dave Whitaker, General Manager. “The name change to News First Now represents the direction and opportunities of our cable channel. Our intention is to provide detailed, local weather and news ‘right now,’ 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

Weather First Now to become News First Now, your 24/7 source for local weather and local news
News First Now located on Comcast cable channel 9 in Colorado Springs and on Comcast digital cable channel 247 in Pueblo

Produced by KOAA-TV’s News First 5/30, Southern Colorado’s News Leader 9pm newscast produced live all seven days per week 4pm newscast produced live five days per week, Monday through Friday 7pm newscast is re-play of 6pm newscast from KOAA-TV 5/30, all seven days per week
Local news segments in the Weather First Now programming cycle doubled in length
Meteorologist Mike Madson, who has more than two decades of local experience, will provide weather coverage in the 4 and 9pm newscasts. Madson has been a member of the Weather First team since May 2006.

The news anchors for these shows will be announced in the near future. A half dozen additional jobs will be created with this news expansion.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Are you watching this?

Kellie Pickler just showed up on "American Idol." If you don't own an HDTV, you really are not getting the full dimensions of how weird she looks. It's like a 4-year-old playing dress up, except with boob implants.

So weird.

Her face looks like it's Botoxed and then spackled. And that dress? I'm imagining what Simon would say. It would make her cry.

(and that pathetically rehearsed sushi bit with Seacrest was pretty sad, too).

HOWEVER - The song is kinda nice.

Still lost?

Last night's Hurley-centric episode was cute and pretty well done, but it seemed like exactly what the show did not need at this point to revive its flagging fortunes.

As a shadetree mechanic myself, I was rolling my eyes at the team's attempts to revive the VW Bus. But whatever - it was funny. The Hurley flashbacks, on the contrary, were totally useless. They weren't funny and we didn't learn anything and why bother? Maybe someday "Lost" will be brave enough to do a flashback-free episode.

One thing I did like, at least I think I liked it, was Kate telling Rosseau that Alex was probably her kid. They played it like it was a revelation -- which of course, it's not to anyone with a double-digit IQ that's seen any of the last half-dozen episodes -- but still, at least one of the Losties managed to put 1 and 1 together without being beaten over the head with a shovel. It hasn't happened that often on this show.

Elsewhere on TV, I'm still a big Melinda Doolittle fan for this year's "Idol." Don't think that's going to change. I like the beatbox boy on the guy's side -- he's nearly as smart about his choices at Chris Sligh and I think he's more talented and obviously more pop idol material.

And "Friday Night Lights" was great again, but you don't watch, so I won't bother.