Tag Archives: TV

I’m Not Ashamed to Admit That I Enjoy “The Voice”

I LOVE The Voice! And if you would’ve asked me a couple of years ago, I don’t think I would’ve said the same thing. I didn’t really think anything of this show until last season when my girlfriend convinced me to watch it. Despite what some might think of it, maybe writing it off as just another lame competition show, it’s not. The Voice is much better than all the others. I’ll explain why:

  1. It’s called The Voice because that’s what they focus on, the voice. It’s not about image, it’s about how well you can actually sing. The show starts off with a few weeks of what are called “Blind Auditions,” where the show hopefuls will perform onstage while the judges sit in their chairs with their backs turned, unable to see each singer. The singer has an allotted amount of time to sing a song of their choosing and convince the judges to turn around. If the judges like what they hear, they press a big red button and their chair turns around.
  2. Once a judge presses their button, they are able to see the performer. Judges who don’t press their button will turn around once the performance is done. The judge or judges who pressed their button(s) will then praise the singer for what they liked about their singing ability.
  3. It is then up to the singer to decide which judge they want to go with during the “Battle Rounds.” (I’ll explain those in a bit) If only one judge picked them, they are defaulted to that judge. But most of the time, there are multiple judges.
  4. Now if no judge presses their button, the singer is of course not selected. But unlike The X-Factor and American Idol, the performers aren’t beaten down with comments like “You were completely dreadful” and “You suck,” they’re actually given constructive criticism to use towards bettering their ability. Yes, they might leave saddened because they weren’t picked, but they’re also more motivated to become a better singer thanks to the judges’ advice.
  5. Each judge has a team and once each team has twelve members, they move on to the “Battle Rounds.” During this time, the judges become coaches as well and teach the singers how to become even better performers. The judges/coaches will then have two of their team members vocally battle against each other by singing the same song together, then the coach chooses which team member to advance to the final round. Eventually, through multiple battles and the judges and viewers voting (Yes, viewers get a say in this show), the performers are eliminated down to “the final six.”
  6. The singers compete again, eventually becoming “the final four,” one singer for each team. Once they get to the final four, they will perform for one last time and it becomes solely up to the public to decide who wins the competition. The winner is then given a record deal with Universal Music.

The “Battle Rounds” are in interesting take and typically fun to watch. That’s when the really good singers generally shine through.

Cee-Lo, Adam, Christina, and Blake

The best part about this show are the judges. You don’t have some smarmy British douchebag, with no musical talent at all, telling contestants they suck. There’s no Randy Jackson saying “Yo dawg, that wasn’t good.” No Britney Spears or Demi Lovato. You have judges on this show with actual talent, each from a popular genre, offering sage advice and wisdom with a little bit of humor. For rock, they have Adam Levine (Maroon Five). For pop, there’s Christina Aguilera. For rap/hip-hop/R&B, there’s Cee-Lo Green (Goodie Mob/Gnarls Barkley). And for country, they have Blake Shelton. All highly acclaimed, highly accredited artists; not producers or record executives or talentless, former Disney Channel stars. Unlike with other shows where the judges just seem to be there for the paycheck, these judges are here to find new talent, bring attention to this talent, teach and nurture this talent to help it grow, and then send it out into the world in order to better the music business. They also give off a great sense of camaraderie, like they enjoy being their with each other. They bicker, joke, poke fun at each other, compete for singers to join their teams; and they it’s all in good fun.

Carson “Crazy-Eyes” Daly. (source: stuffandsuch.wordpress.com)

Also, I want to point out that this show has convinced me that Carson Daly is actually pretty cool. He hosts the show and does a “Meet & Greet” with the contestants. He gets a bit of their backstory, why they came to the show, hangs out with their family and friends backstage while they view the performances, and then chats with them afterwards to wrap things up. And there’s just something about the way he does all of that that makes you really like him and care about the contestants even more. Good job, Carson Daly.

I’ve never really been a fan of reality tv. Ninety-nine percent of it is garbage. And the more that networks air the stuff, the more I think they’re running out of ideas for good television. There have only been a few that I actually like: Battle for Ozzfest, Kitchen Nightmares, Hardcore Pawn, and The Voice. So if this show is good enough to make me watch on a regular basis, not to mention give me hope for the music industry, then I think it’s worth a view from you.

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The September 11th Attacks in Geek Fiction

Many of us remember where we were and what we were doing when the September 11th attacks happened.

I was a lowly freshman in college, and I was in Radio Fundamentals, my first class of the day on that Tuesday morning. My teacher walked into the room, and while  I don’t remember what was said, I’ll always remember the look on her face when she informed us of what was happening. Since we were in what amounted to a functional news studio, I was able to watch things unfold in mostly real time. I remember seeing the second plane as it hit the South Tower.

I don’t really remember that day very well beyond a profound sense of sadness. And of shock. For some reason, when I think of that day, I think of the color gray. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the metal of the buildings. Or the dust as the buildings crashed down.

Obviously, I was not the only one affected by the attacks; writers, artists, and actors were all deeply affected as well. I’m going to talk today specifically how geek culture dealt with attacks–dealing with every instance would take years to write, so this is a small sampling.

Comic Books

Comic companies love New York; Marvel and DC are headquartered there, after all, so it came as no surprise that they wanted to reference the attacks. These are just a few of those stories.

Spider-Man Volume 2 #36 — Also called “The Black Issue” due to its completely black cover. A lot of people took this issue the wrong way, I think. Many people pointed out that Doctor Doom probably wouldn’t actually be crying over an attack, or that there was no way that the other supervillains would care all that much (especially with all the destruction they bring about themselves!), but I think those critics probably missed the point. Those beloved characters (yes, even the villains) were surrogates for the writers and artists at Marvel Comics, and they were expressing themselves through the medium that they were a part of.

Altogether, it’s a little goofy, but it’s also genuine.

9-11 – There were two volumes of this, and both parts contained work by superstar comics writers and artists: Joe Kubert, Stan Lee, Neil Gaiman, Will Eisner, Dave Gibbons, etc. Some of the stories are simple (a woman reaching over and touching the empty side of her bed), some of the stories are overt (Stan Lee’s fable about mice wearing 666 shirts waking up a giant), but all of them deal with the real issues of revenge, justice, hope, and despair.

Big props to the creators of this, because ALL the proceeds went to charities.

Big props as well to Joe Kubert, who gives these last words of hope: “I’ve lived long enough to see the worst turn into something better.”

Ex Machina – While not a 9/11 story, it is affected by the events of that day. Ex Machina takes place in an alternate reality where a superhero called The Great Machine manages to stop only one of the planes. While his actions get him elected mayor of New York, he still lives with the guilt of being indirectly responsible for the death of thousands.

Books 

There weren’t really all that many books in the geek realm that dealt with 9/11 (that I remember anyway), but I would be remiss not to mention Stephen King’s short story The Things They Left Behind.

It’s the tale of a man whose inner voice tells him to call off work and enjoy the day. Yep, that that day is Sept. 11, 2001. After the attacks, he begins having problems with his survivor’s guilt, and objects that belonged to his co-workers begin appearing in his apartment. If he throws them away, they always return. If he gives them to someone else, they give the person nightmares.

Eventually, he begins returning these items to the families of the people they belong to and starts to finally deal with his guilt.

Television 

TV has a lot of references to 9/11. Law & Order, CSI: New York, The West Wing, and Rescue Me all have characters that have to deal with the aftermath of the attacks.

In geek TV, Fringe deals with the 9/11 attacks, including glimpses into an alternate universe where the WTC attacks were averted, only to bring other types of terrorism into the country. The money shot is at the end of season one, where Olivia and William Bell (played by Leonard Nimoy) are standing inside the World Trade Center south tower.

 

Conclusion 

I think the further we get away from the events, the more they will be referenced a little more dispassionately… and maybe with more clarity. For us that remember the day, it seems that the sight of the towers in fiction elicits certain types of responses: shock, sadness, anger, numbness.

How do you feel when you see the towers in movies or TV? Have your feelings changed at all with time? I’d be interested to know. As for me, I feel a certain amount of melancholy and numbness, not just thinking about the attacks, but the consequences of them as well.

Generally on 9/11, I try to remember the unity, the camaraderie.  I remember how everyone suddenly seemed ready to help everyone else out. Strangers were nicer to each other. It only last a couple of weeks, but that kind of unity was pretty nice. I’d love to see that again.

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The Week in Geek: August 10, 2012

I’ve slogged through all the cats on the Internet to find you the best, cat-free stuff around. Here’s what happened this week. You’re welcome.

Doctor Pepper

It’s Doctor Pepper’s Lonely Time Lord Band! It was more clever in my head. Image courtesy of raisegrate.

Like a flipping boss in a bad action movie, Mars rover Curiosity emerged from the 7 minutes of terror (that it only had a 30 percent chance of surviving) and made a cheeky quip. Bill Nye was right, science rules.

People take themselves too seriously and it is hilarious. Gabrielle shows us “The Drama of Yelp.”

The real-life inspiration for the film-version of Tony Stark, Elon Musk, wants to put humans on Mars in 15 years. Total Recall really chose the wrong week to not be set on Mars.

Joss Whedon will return to write and direct Avengers 2 and shall helm that live-action Marvel TV series everyone’s chattering about. I’m too happy to make a joke, so just imagine I wrote something snarky about Firefly’s cancellation here.

Julie wants you to know that no matter how empowered Whedon or Christopher Nolan’s superladies are, their clothing is hella impractical.

Is my skirt too short?

Speaking of impractical clothing, this answers the ago-old question of, “What would the Doctors look like in their companion’s clothes?” Image courtesy of Bestiolina.

Sure, she said she was happy to win silver, but American gymnast Mckayla Maroney’s expression on the podium told a different story. What’s a world to do? Meme it, of course!

Here is a painting of a pug as a Jedi with a lightsaber. Your argument is invalid. (Note: I love that the artist went with the realism of tying the lightsaber to the pug’s paw because they don’t have thumbs. Duh!)

Speaking of high art, this guy nibbled highlights of Britain out of Jaffa Cakes. So, it’s not the end of the Internet, but you can see it from here (Joke made with credit to Jon Stewart).

Though millions of World of Warcraft fans might disagree, Tim argues that the MMO bubble has burst.

Last art one, I swear! DC has released prints reimagining classic titles and characters. Minimalist and noir to Victorian and beaux arts, there’s a lot of variety.

Doctor Companions

Everyone should be drawn as beaux arts poster people. It’s a fact. Image courtesy of strawberrygina.

Love the cult comic Love and Rockets? Of course you do because if you don’t you won’t seem cool and hip. In honor of their hipster fans, the cartoonists will be going on a tour of the the Northeast. Shimmy on your skinny jeans and hop the bus to Brooklyn.

Darker than a slice of blackberry pie during a power outage, animated short The Ballad of Poisonberry Pete is a nice way to waste five minutes at work.

Comic writer extraordinaire (and lover of frosted Pop Tarts), Gail Simone is Kickstartering to fund her graphic novel Leaving Megaopolis. It sounds like Irredeemable meets The Walking Dead in the best way.

Emily points out that not only has London declared that they’re going to put on the greenest games ever, it looks like they’re going to pull it off.

Kelly Sue DeConnick, who has been in comics for more than a decade, sat on a panel with Matt Fraction. A news website introduced Fraction by all is work. They introduced DeConnick as the wife of Matt Fraction. Fortunately for my faith in humanity, other creators, illustrators, and tastemakers good naturedly chimed in.

Superman is a more than a jerk. He’s a super-loser at the Interplanetary Olympics.

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NBC Keeps on Failing

From Wikimedia Commons

NBC keeps failing.

As I watched the coverage of the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony, I couldn’t keep myself from yelling at Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira to just shut up and let the program happen. It wasn’t a freaking parade!

Then, I started to wonder why NBC keeps screwing up so royally on everything. I still don’t have a definitive answer, but I do miss the ’90s when they were running shows like Friends, Seinfeld, and Mad About You.

So what, that I can see, is NBC’s problem?

A lot of things.

Identity – NBC is struggling to figure out what kind of network they are. Remember how I mentioned the ’90s? NBC used to be a darling for acclaimed shows. Law & Order, Friends, Seinfeld, Frasier, etc. were all widely watched and critical hits. However, after the ’90s ended, cable channels began to rise in prominence, bringing the new critical favorites: Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Monk, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Weeds, and others. The list goes on and on.

Cable channels can do things that NBC can’t. Now, NBC is left trying to make poor copies of what cable is doing (The Playboy Club…really, NBC?).

As for Law & Order and its million spin-offs, it’s been replaced by CSI, NCIS, Person of Interest, Hawaii 5-0, and all their billion spin-offs.

What NBC is left with is… nothing.

The audience that NBC wants right now seems to be young, smart, media-savvy people, who like to have their media choices scheduled by corporations. (Pro-tip: I’m not sure that audience exists. Too bad for Community.)

The Writer’s Strike – Of the Big Four networks (CBS, ABC, Fox, NBC), NBC was hit the hardest by the 2007-2008 writer’s strike. None of the shows it put up to replace the scripted shows were a success, and ad-revenue and ratings dropped by around 10 percent. Making Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno return without a writing staff didn’t garner any good will from the Writer’s Guild, either (It should be noted that David Letterman managed to come to an interim agreement with the WGA).

The Writer’s Strike also managed to shorten the season of NBC’s most popular show at the time, Heroes. It’s my opinion that the show never recovered from the shortened season, and the quality of the show plummeted during season two.

The Tonight Show Controvesy – This debacle probably hurt NBC the most in terms of public relations, but it also hurt them  in the ratings.

When Jay Leno was moved to his prime time slot, and ultimately failed to get the ratings (affiliates were pretty upset), NBC was left with a hard decision. Rather than have a show fail in one time slot, though, it effectively failed in five. NBC had to find a way to fill five prime time slots, none of which went on to garner huge ratings (I believe that the only show from that time that is still airing is Parenthood, which I think is a great show, by the way).

The firing of Conan O’Brien really hurt the network in the PR department. Many celebrities and fans immediately rejected Leno as The Tonight Show host, and although Jay’s ratings have recovered, his image was permanently damaged.

The Today Show- NBC’s biggest moneymaker is the morning show staple, but even its ratings have been declining as of late. I’ve heard a lot of reasons given for this, but I’m going to focus on two.

1.) Matt Lauer is getting harder and harder to work with. Rumor is that the guy isn’t very nice to his co-workers and was basically behind Ann Curry being fired.

2.) It’s become waaaay too pop culture oriented. I don’t watch a whole lot of The Today Show, but what I see when I watch is coverage of popular YouTube videos, news sensationalism, and interviews with useless pseudo-celebs. If other channels are picking up the slack and covering real news, I can see why the ratings are slipping.

Asim Bharwani [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Streaming, Cable, YouTube, Video Games – NBC, like most of the networks, wasn’t ready for the Internet entertainment revolution. NBC also doesn’t seem to understand that the younger demographic they are targeting with shows like 30 Rock and Community aren’t going to watch a lot of TV when it initially airs. There are too many other entertainment choices out there. Plus, NBC hasn’t figured out a way to make a lot of money from Hulu, yet.

The Olympics -This is what got me thinking about the topic in the first place. I’m not sure how NBC could do the Olympics better, but they could start with not airing promos including who won the gold medal before they publicly air the event.

Also, could they air better events? I’m sick to death of gymnastics and swimming. Let’s see some fencing, boxing, judo, and other events where people fight. Those things are awesome.

Cris Colinsworth – I hate this guy with a passion, so I had to include him.

All-in-all, these are the reasons I think NBC is failing in the ratings game. Its biggest problem is that it just doesn’t know what it is anymore, especially since other cable networks are doing it better than they are.

Also, The Office has overstayed its welcome. Can we let it die already?

Also too, just give Alison Brie her own show.

[Featured Image: By ASTaylor [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]

 

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