Archives For TV

Now Hapless And Helpless

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 4 2012 @ 7:28pm

Heather Havrilesky applauds the rise of TV characters who are pushing the typical tropes forward:

On the vast majority of family shows, "Dad" isn't a person so much as a shapeless halfwit, fumbling confusedly with modern appliances, sputtering hopelessly in the face of tiny marital challenges, and just generally underwhelming friends, family and foes at home and at work. Strangely, though, this subhuman of limited charms, very little wisdom, and almost no capacity for grasping complex emotions is, nine times out of ten, remarkably smug about himself and his abilities. …

Thankfully, Louis CK came along and endowed the Hapless Dad with the self-loathing that he rightfully deserves.

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Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 1 2012 @ 7:35am

… is perhaps best illustrated by this clip of the network providing a spoiler for its own coverage of American swimmer Missy Franklin's dramatic race:

Millennials are in open revolt over NBC's tight control over its coverage, especially the long delays between the events occuring in the UK and their airing on American TVs:

At the centre of controversy was NBC's attempt to leverage maximum revenue from the Games, for which they paid almost a billion dollars, by foregoing live coverage of high-profile events. Instead, it intends to footage on time-delay during evening prime time, when brands will pay a premium to advertise. The tactic may very well be the most lucrative for NBC, but it's the least satisfactory for viewers, and seems to blithely ignore the advent of the internet era. It meant, for example, that Saturday's titanic swimming clash between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte wasn't broadcast in the USA until several hours after it took place. Adding insult to injury, NBC had already announced the result on its own evening news bulletin.

And the time delays are creating all sorts of spoilers via social media:

What's different in these Games isn't the time-shifting itself; it's that time-shifted coverage is no longer the only coverage available to us. "Real time" is now a default option in a way that it wasn't back in 1996 — or even, given the rise of Internet connections, in 2008 or 2010. That London 2012 is the first real "Social Media Olympics" is a cliché because it's true:

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A Show They Loved To Hate

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 24 2012 @ 3:40pm


When promoting Sorkin's show, HBO abuses ellipses:

Time’s James Poniewozik, summarizing his views on "The Newsroom" for non-subscribers, flatly declared, "I was not a fan." Yet the ad makes it sound like he was, burbling, "The pacing is electric…captures the excitement." Salon’s Willa Paskin is quoted in the ad calling "The Newsroom" "captivating, riveting, rousing." Here’s what she actually wrote: "The results are a captivating, riveting, rousing, condescending, smug, infuriating mixture, a potent potion that advertises itself as intelligence-enhancing but is actually just crazy-making."

“Why People Hate Liberals”

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 20 2012 @ 10:36am

Pareene isn't a Sorkin fan:

He’s a smug, condescending know-it-all who isn’t as smart as he thinks he is. His feints toward open-mindedness are transparently phony, he mistakes his opinion for common sense, and he’s preachy. Sorkin has spent years fueling the delusional self-regard of well-educated liberals. He might be more responsible than anyone else for the anti-democratic "everyone would agree with us if they weren’t all so stupid" attitude of the contemporary progressive movement. And age is not improving him.

An especially sharp dig:

He hates everything frivolous — "frivolous" is womanly things like gossip and fashion and television not created by Aaron Sorkin but explicitly not, say, sports …

Recent Sorkin coverage here, here, here, here and here.

Derek Thompson thinks the end of cable TV may finally be near now that Direct TV and local-TV-on-the-Internet provider Aereo are challenging the industry's bundling practices:

The debate between DirecTV (a provider) and Viacom (a "content" creator) is about finding the right price that providers should pay for content that most people don't watch. That's where bundles are useful. They disguise the price of things we don't use. But with pay TV growth slowing, we're at the edge of a revolution. "DirecTV thinks video streaming is eating away at the ratings of channels like MTV and Comedy Central," Jeff Bercovici writes at Forbes, and the company has "demanded that Viacom give consumers the right to select channels a la carte."  The Aereo story is different. It's not about cable. But it is about distributing broadcast networks online. Once sports fans can get the Olympics and NBA and other shows without a cable package, whenever they want it, it could serve alongside Netflix, Hulu and other services to replace the cable bundle.

Previous Dish on the subject here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here

(Full disclosure: IAC, which employs the Dish, has invested in Aereo.)

TV Binges, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 12 2012 @ 5:43pm

Jim Pagels frowned upon watching TV series too quickly. James Poniewozik counters:

[T]he episodic structure of TV exists because of commercial considerations, not storytelling ones. Episodes end on cliffhangers to bring you back the next week. Subplots are resolved in an hour to give you a sense of completion as you wait for the next installment. "Acts" end on dramatic notes to keep you from channel-flipping through the commercials.

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Sorkin’s Girl Trouble, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 11 2012 @ 2:20pm

Readers push back on this post:

I'm not going to defend the whole show – I too have been surprised at how easily flustered the female leads can seem at times in "The Newsroom" – but stopping there is literally only part of the story. This week McHale was thrown off balance by McAvoy's parade of women, sure, but that merely served to setup the kicker, where it becomes clear what an inconsiderate ass McAvoy has been, and how decent McHale was.  We're left thinking a lot more highly of McHale than the "great man." Maggie's panic attack scene, as I saw it, was about how Jim treated her no differently than the best men he's ever known, who can have the exact same kind of attack. There's also, of course, the new female CEO character who by all appearances is quite the confident and commanding presence.

Another writes:

I confess to being a sucker for the idealism of "The Newsroom", and the mouthpiece for that idealism is a character I'm beginning to love and others have maligned: MacKenzie McHale. 

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