QI, c’mon BBC, share a little

imageWhile I miss my coworkers from Dublin, Irish breakfasts, and the Dropping Well… what I miss most from Ireland is getting the full breadth for BBC programming. Sure, as with US programming, there are plenty of duds, but I miss being able to watch Top Gear without a several month delay and the best quiz show ever:  the ridiculously funny (and, of course, Interesting) QI.

The premise of QI is: create a quiz show filled with impossibly hard questions, stock the contestant chairs with comedians & celebrities and then don’t worry about having the answers be right or even on topic. By rewarding the guests for answers which are "interesting" and allowing the conversation to wander far from the original question you are bound to get amusing stories and random facts which are, of course, quite interesting.

imageLast week I was reminded of how much I miss Stephen Fry when Paula happened across re-runs of Stephen Fry in America running on PBS. Here’s the thing: Mr. Fry’s father was offered a job at Princeton University but, since he turned it down, Stephen feels he was almost an American. But all of this is beside the point because BBC America is an anemic substitute for the BBC and is holding back the best content: specifically QI.

All of this has, however, made me realize why it’s actually interesting for me to be able to watch YouTube on my TiVo: episodes of Qi. A generous YouTuber (YouTubista?) has kindly squirreled away episodes (all the way back to the pilot).

Thank goodness the BBC hasn’t figured out how to advertise to the US in their web videos (they block non-UK viewers) because otherwise I might feel guilty not giving revenue where it’s due.

Also I couldn’t watch the videos on my TV. And, as has already been widely recognized, it is all about me.


I hate flashback episodes


Tonight I watched three hours of television, and two hours of it were in reverse.  It seems more and more TV writers are using the flashback episode as crutch.

By flashback episode I mean those episodes where at the start of the show you come in at the end of the action.  So, after ten minutes of "look, here’s how the show ends!" you have to sit through 30 minutes of review explaining how you ended up where you started.

Here’s my request to TV writers out there: either learn how to develop tension through foreshadowing and character development or go back to film school.


Use Media Center to see only the Olympic events you enjoy

Now this is just pretty damn cool, Windows Media Center, NBC and TVTonic have collaborated to provide Summer Olympic coverage delivered direct to your Media Center (and through that to your Xbox too). 

Paula asked the important question: “Why should I care? I’ll just TiVo it.”

True, you can get the Olympics via TV broadcast (and time-shifted via your PVR of choice) or on demand from NBC’s site.  The thing I think is a killer feature is that you can specify the events you want to watch instead of having to fast forward through an hour of equestrian events just to watch track and field (or vice versa).  Heck, you don’t even need a TV tuner card to get the programming (most of it in ED and lots in HD).

Sure, there are limits: you have to be in the US and you have to have Vista Media Center (32 bit only).

Get the full run down from TVTonic’s site.


Painkiller Jane: Dud

SciFi Channel: you owe me an hour.

Here’s the elevator pitch: take the cheerleader from Heroes, stick her in a shadowy government agency like Sydney from Alias and have them hunt super bad guys like Buffy from… well… Buffy.

I really wanted to like Painkiller Jane… a hero who heals rapidly, bad guys with mind control powers and a group of bad-ass G-men protecting the world.  Combine that with some cool music and stylish cinematography and you can’t loose.

You know there’s a “but” coming don’t you?  Here’s the thing: they hired creative writing students from the local community college to write the scripts.  I guess they needed to make sure there was money left over to hire someone to write little mini games for their web site.

Look on the bright side, remember how you were trying to figure out if you should record the new SciFi channel show starring the sexy female terminator from T3 or a rerun of Myth Busters?  Problem solved. 

TV Video Games

Woo woo!

My current gaming addiction is Gears of War (GOW)… spent almost 4 hours playing it with friends last night (yes, Paula is out of town… aren’t you clever to figure that out).

Every time I play I can’t help thinking: “Hey, that Cole character sounds totally like Terry Tate.”  Well, last night my curiosity finally got the better of me and I looked it up. I was not mistaken.  Agustus Cole in GOW is played by Lester “The Mighty Rasta” Speight, recognized by most as “Terry Tate, Office Linebacker”. 

I can’t resist the Terry Tate commercials… once I watch one I have to watch them all… over and over and over.  Have a little taste of what Terry’s dishin’ out.


Now that’s entertainment!

I love this show! 

studo 60 logo

Are you watching it yet?

No?  Go, right now, set your TiVo.  Don’t worry, I’ll wait right here.

What are you waiting for?  Shoo!


Reeves is just catching up with the rest of the world

Paula already knew it.  Trina already knew it.  Aw heck, it seems most everyone else already knows… Buffy The Vampire Slayer is hilarious.


When I was back in Seattle last month I picked up seasons two through seven for Paula… and ended up watching most of the episodes with her.  I’d never really seen more than a few episodes here and there, Paula, however, had watched most of them and was hooked.

If you haven’t seen them you should.  Go sign up for NetFlix (no, I don’t get a kickback for pushing them) and load up your queue.  If you’re feeling like it you might as well throw in the movie that started it all.

Why, you ask? Because it has great lines like this:

“Martha Stewart isn’t a demon. She’s a witch. […] Nobody could do that much decoupage without calling on the powers of darkness.”


Must not see TV: Heist

Paula and I always love a good caper movie, so when we saw the ads for Heist on TV we thought, hey, looks like a fun diversion.  We were only able to sit through fifteen minutes of this derivative drivel.

NBC sez Heist is “a series driven by unforgettable characters”… absolutely, they’re unforgettable because you’ve seen them in a thousand other movies and TV shows. 

The criminal star characters of this garbage were lifted directly from the Italian Job, Ocean’s Eleven, Mission Impossible, you name it.  There’s Mickey, the handsome, clever criminal mastermind.  James, Mickey’s trusted partner in crime and intellectual fencing partner.  “Pops”, the wise, criminal father-figure (with requisite fedora and members-only jacket).  Ricky, the cute, Bronx-accented, wet-behind-the-ears thief.  And, of course, Lola, the beautiful but extra-tough she-thug who will punch you in the mouth as soon as you call her “babe”.

The law-enforcement characters are no better.  There’s Amy, the beautiful cop with a huge chip on her shoulder… trying hard to make a name for herself in a man’s world.  There’s Billy, the overweight, narrow-minded cop who speaks his mind without restraint… waffling between offensive and endearingly honest.  The only cop who hasn’t become jaded and cynical is Tyrese, the young idealistic black detective.

Let’s see, in the first fifteen minutes, Mickey and James show how clever they are by casually robbing a jewelry store, quizzing each other on ancient history to help pass the time.  Amy, the cop making a name for herself, busts a ring of thieves who rob moving trains (the noisy train robbers driving 4x4s were without hubris or subtlety, it was obvious they’d be arrested).  Amy then (without so much as a good night’s sleep) goes to investigate Mikey and James’s break-in.  Mikey is, of course, on the roof across the street, taking pictures of Amy investigating the robbery.

Scene: looking at Amy through the lens of a powerful camera.  The shutter releases several times, three back and white images of Amy in rapid succession.

Zoom in from street level to Mikey on the roof across the street with a camera.

Mikey: “Keep your enemies close…”

Fade out.  End scene.

Holy crap!  The thing that shocks me is this: somebody in LA pushed back from their keyboard and thought to themselves… “Man, this is great stuff.”

Idle TV

TV worth watching: House

This is why House is the best medical show on TV… period:

There are few shows I must watch, four total, in fact.  House (aka House, M.D.) is at the top of the short list.

Here’s the quickie background: Greg House is a cross between Dr. Hawkeye Pierce, Sherlock Holmes and that grumpy old man next door who’s always yelling at the neighborhood kids.  He loves to solve the tough, mystery illnesses but hates dealing with patients (or just about anyone else it seems).  A bitter, semi-reclusive character, House doesn’t care who he pisses off and, as a result, speaks his mind without hesitation or societal filter.  House’s unedited sarcasm makes watching the show wonderfully cathartic.

A typical episode revolves around a single patient’s mystery illness, broken up with other sub-plots and, one of my favorite parts: House doing his requisite clinic duty.  So, what’s the big deal?  Fantastic writing, a stellar cast and characters with real depth.  Plus, the hospital where they work is not on the brink of some world-destroying calamity each week like E.R. (someone please cancel that show).

The first season is out on DVD, start there… it has no commercials.

Gear Idle Tech TV

Technology that works

My DirecTV TiVo died a month or two ago so I went out and bought a new one (well… it was a shelf model but works great).  The old unit I just kept on a shelf, suspecting the problem was one of the hard drives… and since I had broken the seal and added a new hard drive warranty was out of the question.

This weekend I finally got around to taking an extra hard drive, imaging it and sticking it in the dead TiVo.  The process was not simple due to an intersection of no UNIX knowledge and aversion to reading instructions but it worked.  The DirecTiVo is back up again! 

But wait… I had the unit disconnected for over a month and DirecTV no longer recognized it.  I could tune to the help channels but couldn’t get any real channels.  Every channel has the same message, call DirecTV, extension 722.  Crap!  It was Sunday night… there was no way DirecTV employees were going to be around to help me.  <sigh> Okay, time to break down and call DirecTV, wade through thousands of voice prompts and button presses only to get a “call us Monday” message.

Thank you for calling DirecTV.  For English press 1, para Espanol …
For faster service, please use our automated phone system for paying your bills or adding services.  If you have a 3 digit code or extension displayed on your TV, please press it now, if…
One moment while we check your configuration.  Please check your TV…

What?  I turn and look at the TV… the TiVo is reacquiring satellite data and then the picture shows up.  Freaking magical.  I dialed their automatic phone support, it recognized my caller ID, I input the code and it corrected the problem… no human required.  You see, this is the type of thing people like me in the software industry want to do, but it never quite comes out right and then you end up with things like the Comcast PVR (so Omar, can you record a new show yet without a reboot?).