Category Archives: Television

In classic “fish or cut bait” scenario, “cut bait” wins

Let’s take a break (or at least a dislocation) from discussing the horrors of American football and make note of a positive development in world futbol: Fox made the right call and gave up the Gus Johnson experiment. As noted in these pages, Gus never really got the hang of soccer, and wasn’t improving at an encouraging pace. Better for Fox to make the change now than to stubbornly stick to its guns and screw up the 2018 World Cup more than FIFA already will.

Robin Sloane – In praise of the terrible live stream

Robin Sloane:

The terrible live stream is precious because, of all the formats available to us now, it selects least. It resists the narrative compression of “news.” It shows a scene that, for all its intensity, is mostly slow-moving and confusing. It forces us to sit through the in-between minutes that an editor would cut. The live stream, uniquely among formats, is free to be muddled and boring, with no clear storyline and no assurance that This Is All Going Somewhere.

Darke vs. Johnson: The Fight for America’s Ears

Over at The A.V. Club, Rowan Keiser has a solid post about how things have changed (and not changed) for men’s soccer in the United States – with an emphasis on who we’ve been listening to when we watch it on television:

If you flipped on ABC or ESPN for a World Cup match this year or in 2010, you were almost certainly greeted by an announcer with an English accent. For the four World Cups prior, between 1994 and 2006, ESPN had used American voices like O’Brien—but the decision to change announcers wasn’t merely an aesthetic one. The networks took sides in an ongoing war over the nature of American soccer, where announcing is one of biggest battlegrounds about whether the sport should be Europeanized “football” or reflect a home-grown American soccer. It’s a conflict that encompasses media culture, fan culture, and even the overall philosophy of U.S. Soccer’s attempts to improve the national team.

Read the rest, then come back here. For my money, Ian Darke puts the rest of the ESPN World Cup announcers to shame when it comes to play-by-play (and the less said about Gus Johnson’s efforts to this point, the better). I don’t watch enough (read: any) MLS to know if there are any home-grown announcers up to the task yet, but I do hope that 4 years from now, when the World Cup is on Fox, we hear from some talented American voices.* Or at least some other voices that have more to contribute than just a smart-sounding accent.

* Can a voice be talented? Also, anybody think Gus is capable of getting good at this by 2018? He was atrocious in that Atletico/Real Madrid game a couple months ago.

Community is dead and it should stay dead.

If you’re miserable about the cancellation of CommunityTodd VanDerWerff lays out how it could live again. But if you’re like me, you’re perfectly happy to say goodbye to a show that went from great to sporadically good. Sure, another season (or a movie) could be awesome. But it’s a lot more likely that it would continue to suffer from the gradual decay that is almost inevitable for a show like Community that thrives on novelty, bucking expectations, and subverting the cliches that are part-and-parcel of any long-running network sitcom. Let the writers, producers, directors, cast and crew move on and help make fun new stuff.

Why Fox’s Kevin Reilly Is Canceling Pilot Season

As rival networks spend the first weeks of May hurriedly deciding on a fall schedule, Reilly already has a pretty good idea of what Fox’s new lineup will look like. “Rather than make 20 things and throw them at the wall and hope you get 6 that maybe feel like keepers, why not focus?” he says. “At a time when consumer behavior is changing, to have a business where a manufacturing process hasn’t really changed in a fundamental way for almost 40 years — that seems insane to me.”

The concept of “pilot season” does seem like an odd and inefficient use of resources. Fox (along with its cable counterpart, FX) is doing some interesting stuff behind the scenes of the TV business.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Definitive Oral History of a TV Masterpiece

Wired goes long on MST3K:

Though MST3K boasted a remarkably talented writing staff, its real stars were the B movies that were riffed apart in each episode. The series would skewer all manner of films, from cheapo action flicks like The Pumaman (1980) to drecky sci-fi-­horror amalgams like Night of the Blood Beast (1958) to creepy kids’ fare like Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders (1996).

Hodgson: Film distributors would do this trick where they’d license you several movies. Half of them might be movies you’d heard of, and half were the movies we actually wanted, the B movies. We didn’t want the cocaine—we wanted the baby laxative they put in the cocaine.