Friday, January 28, 2011

TV: Bones - Science with Heart

Starring: David Boreanaz, Emily Deschanel, Michaela Conlin, Eric Millegan
Category: Mystery, Drama
I was really late coming to Bones. It also came with a few false starts. I caught a couple of episodes in Season 3 and wasn't impressed. There were too many CSIs and me-too series. I was also cheesed off at the whole NCIS vs Criminal Minds thing. Really? 2 teams with exactly the same make up. Father figure leader with tortured past? Check. Tough as nails, street-wise former cop. Check. All-knowing / All seeing Lab dweller. Check. Learned, technical, academic figure. Hot, burnette, smart, butt-kicking female. Check. At a glance, it didn't strike me how Bones was different from the others. Also it is shot in really bright lights. In comparison to the CSI series, being schooled in the X-File school of near-zero lighting and illumination-by-flashlight, it was like it was sponsored by the power companies.
I was intrigued by a few episodes in Season 3. Enough to make it a point to catch the premier of Season 4. What a mess that was. Agent Booth came off as the ugly american and it felt like a travelogue rather than a crime-drama series. So I stopped watching.
Then I caught an episode involving Ryan O'Neal as Dr. Brennan's father and another one featuring Steven Fry as Booth's psychologist. I was hooked.
It was a good time to catch the series. While the series is about the cases centering around Booth and Dr. Brennan, the series does not skimp on character development for the other characters; Anglea, Hodgins and Dr. Saroyan, Dr Sweets. It is nice to see a series that has it's characters go in very different directions. The different personalities are distinct and yet they can interact both professionally and personally. This helps to make the series relate to it's viewers.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Behind the Scenes of TV : The Paley Center for Media

Previously known as the Museum of Television and Radio, Paley Center for Media regularly hosts events that focuses on the creative process of great TV shows and movies. I found their interviews / panel events fascinating. Most entertainment shows focus on the celebrity of the show or the shows happenings. The stories are most of the time are engineered to entice the audience to watch the show. The events at the Paley Center however, involve the creative sources which provide the words and stories behind the movies and TV shows as well as it's stars, who provide the voice and acting. Short clips can be found at center's screening room. The good stuff is at their YouTube channel.

The most important thing is that the center treats TV shows with respect.

Friday, January 14, 2011

TV: Fringe

Starring: Anna Trov, Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Lance Reddick
Category: Sci-Fi
I just watched the seventh episode of the third season and I am excited beyond belief.
I've been watching this since the beginning and for a long tine I introduced it to friends as a more edgier, more Sci-Fi X-Files. FBI unit investigating the strange and unknown; that bill fits them both. Similarities don't end there. It was also threatening to be like the X-Files that it had story arches and stand-alone episodes. Especially the first season where you could see they were carefully repeating the lore each and every episode so that you could broadcast some episodes out of order. Another way it was also mimicking the X-Files was the way it was threatening to become insular, self-referencing and plain old confusing to the average viewer. Show creator J.J. Abrams went through great lengths to distance this from his other TV creation, Lost, which invented new levels of confusion. His promised to keep Fringe accessible to all and for the first season, it worked.
Then in mid-second season something snapped. That is the only I can describe it as. Suddenly, it abandoned it's hand-holding pace and script structure (repeating introductions, etc). It was as if the people driving the show suddenly pressed the accelerator. All of a sudden, events that were hinted on and inevitably to occur in some future episode a season or two away, occurred in rapid succession. It was as if someone threatened to pull the plug and the story writers decided to tell as much as possible before someone did.
This has happened before in other series, where the pace of story development picked up so much that soon there was nothing left or new to tell. That was the problem with the X-Files too. Once the nature of the aliens and their human conspirators were known, everything else after that seemed bland and seemed tacked on. They even began repeating themselves by making Mulder missing yet again.
However, for Fringe, it was as if someone decided that their viewers were smart enough and if some people didn't get it by now, those people would never get it anyway. They knew that not only were their viewer smart, they were smart enough to see the plot points that they were building up to. So instead of making a spectacle out of it or milking it for all it's worth, they simply got it over with and moved the story forward.
Where they moved to is something really interesting. This is where I can't decide whether I like it or not. Spoiler alert ahead. One one hand, the concept of two worlds colliding is really great. The show even has a different color opening titles to help users orient themselves as to which world the episode is primarily set in. But having two parallel character sets can be confusing. To make it more confusing, one character from one world has crossed over and taken the place of the other, pretending to be the version of themselves in that world. This is coming close to Lost-confusing levels. So far, a lot it is managed through distinction. By having distinct characters that does not exist in the other world play major parts (and have a lot of screen time) clearly indicates the different scenarios and essentially hints to viewer which world they are viewing. This could be quite confusing to watch but show is juggling this story very well.
Fringe has turned out to be a delight to watch and follow. Even if you don't normally like Sci-fi, the show also works as a drama, with plot twists that are surprising but not as mind-bending as those on Lost. If you are new, the background story is getting a bit thick by now. It is worth watching the DVDs for the first two seasons to catch up and watch the slow burn turn into a raging fire. Like real fire, I hope the show writer can control it and not get consumed by it.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Homeless man with Golden Voice:Ted Williams

I first saw this on a news item at a news website. I can't remember which. But like most people, I was surprised to say the least when Ted Williams started to speak. A friend of mine thought it was a hoax. But after listening to the interview afterwards, we were convinced it was real, it was his voice. I hard people talking about it over lunch. Someone even saw it on the TV news.

The original story was from traditional media. The videographer from the Columbus Dispatch first reported it. I'll gve them their due. Follow the story here. The someone called ritchey uploaded it to youtube. It attracted a lot of attention. From there other news sites reported it and linked to that video and it exploded. It not only went viral but it was also spread via TV news and the classic word-of-mouth. The within days he was on radio and later TV morning shows. Ted later helped opened the Today show on NBC and was interviewed on his past and was up for him in the near future.
Truly a heartwarming story of how life can be changed at a moment's notice. It resonated with a lot of people because they could hear his sincerity when interviewed later in the segment. America is place for second chances. It is a belief that people want to practice by giving Ted a helping hand, a second chance. Some people thought that it was incredulous that a person with that natural ability could be out on the street. But there are many reasons why people become homeless. Ted has his and given the amount of publicity he is generating, there will be a TV movie about it soon.
There are two points about the story that I'd like to point out.

A Shift Online

I you have read some of the past posts you would notice that there are large gaps between posts. There are a log of reasons. Work. Family. In general Life.
Also I haven't been watch that many movies of note and only recently been back watching TV series. Reality TV really turns me off. Most of the time I end up watching the TV series on DVD.
But when I took a close look at what I was watching, I realized that I was watching online videos more and more. Youtube mainly, movie trailers on on occasion. So I'm adding online videos that I have been watching to the list of the movies and TV series that I am posting.
So here goes.