Category: tv

Do Yourself a Favour - or, if you’re the music industry, don’t

A colleague recently tweeted about the availability a great Countdown documentary ‘Do Yourself a Favour’:

Hey @ABCShop, looking for a DVD of Countdown: Do Yourself a Favour and can’t find it online. Is it ever going to be available for sale? @JaneHolley48 2 Feb 2016

Given there is currently a wave of Countdown nostalgia due to the Molly rockumentary, it would seem like the perfect time for a release. However:

sorry Jane, it won’t be sold on DVD due to the cost of music rights. @JeremyBoylin 2 Feb 2016

2016 and the music industry still don’t get it, withholding rights for a show that spent its entire run promoting and hyping the very same industry. Sales of a DVD highlighting classic bands and artists makes people go and seek that music out.

They should take Molly’s advice just like we all used to.

Secret Streaming

Netflix launching in Australia has created a flurry of activity in the local video streaming market. From barely anything, we suddenly have a choice of many: Netflix, Stan1, Presto, Foxtel Play, and probably more.

The consequence of which is option paralysis - which service to use? The obvious way to decide is to make a list of what you want to watch, then go find the best match. Simple, right?

Strangely not. For reasons best known to themselves, most of the services don’t publish an episode guide. Netflix has a bare bones home page and no information about what is on. Stan is similar, though teases a few big name shows and movies. Foxtel apparently has thousands of hours of on demand content, but good luck finding out what those hours actually contain.

Presto at least provides a guide to what’s on, but unfortunately it is a mostly a woeful list of 3rd rate or ancient shows.

There are third party sites—at least for Netflix—which endeavour to provide what the first parties won’t, but it’s a very strange phenomena. Music subscription services all allow you to check out what’s available before signing up, and you’d never normally subscribe to something sight unseen2. Why the streaming secrecy when it comes to video?

  1. Stan gets a special award for terrible advertising. Overweight model, unicorns, puppy suits? Sign me up! 

  2. They all offer a free trial, which is one way to find out. But who wants to create usernames, passwords, and provide payment details, just to see what is on. 

Star Trek: The Next Generation in 40 hours

Great guide from Max Temkin to the 40 key episodes, and why Trek is more than just “Guys in pajamas looking at viewscreens and sitting in chairs”. I watched the entire thing on VHS1 over the course of several years of man-flu induced sick leave, but this is a nice way to ease into Star Trek and enjoy some of the best sci-fi TV ever made:

Star Trek has a special place in my heart because it shows us a future where we continue to advance technology and explore without destroying ourselves or shouting over each other on Twitter all day. We should all be aware of the many difficult material concerns in our lives, and the unjust power structures that we’re implicated in. But what does life look like without them? Who’s thinking about what comes next? Captain Picard, that’s who.

(via Six Colors)

  1. Each rented from a video store, from back when there was more than one last remaining holdout. Which I still use - why watch a crappy compressed stream when you can rent a Blu-Ray for $5. Yes, I’m old. 

A Game of Thrones & ‘Fantasy’

More Shoals, this time on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Spoiler alert - if you haven’t read the books:

The show danced around its genre, convincing us that we weren’t watching fantasy. Game of Thrones covered an immense amount of thematic ground, but none of it depended on, or dealt with the implications of, traditional fantasy elements. The Sopranos or The Wireaddressed and reformulated this stuff in the first few episodes. It took until the last scene for Game of Thrones to emerge-like Kelisi from the ashes-with its dragons.

The art of the laugh track

The Paris Review on the creation of the laugh track:

Today’s sitcoms are based mostly on witty repartee and no longer rely on outlandish situations or sight gags, such as you would see in an episode of Mister Ed or The Munsters or Bewitched-and today’s muted laughs reflect that. Generally, laughs are now much less aggressive and more subdued; you no longer hear unbridled belly laughs or guffaws. It’s “intelligent” laughter-more genteel, more sophisticated. But definitely not as much fun. There was an optimism and carefree quality in those old laugh tracks. Today, the reactions are largely “droll”.

David Simon on exposition

David Simon:

“Fuck the exposition,” he says gleefully, as we go back into the bar. “Just *be*. The exposition can come later.” He describes a theory of television narrative. “If I can make you curious enough, there’s this thing called Google. If you’re curious about the New Orleans Indians, or ‘second-line’ musicians - you can look it up.” The Internet, he suggests, can provide its own creative freedom, releasing writers from having to overexplain, allowing history to light the characters from within.