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Posts Tagged ‘television

The ultimate binge…

 

YouTube user Omni Verse has put together ten minute packages of your favorite cult TV shows in an intense “videoggedon,” where all the episodes are played at the same time!

From Star Trek and The Twilight Zone, to Kolchak—The Night StalkerPlanet of the Apes and Doctor Who. This is like a ten-minute sugar rush of cult TV heaven!

For example:

email readers click here

Find them all at the always-illuminating Dangerous Minds.

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As we lean back, we might recall that on this date in 1989 ABC broadcast the last episode of Ryan’s Hope.  Born in 1975, the show’s creators had taken the unusual step (for a soap opera) of setting the series in a real community, the Washington Heights neighborhood of Northern Manhattan.  That, and the their forthright treatment of then-edgy issues– extramarital and premarital affairs, the attendant children out of wedlock, careerist women, the assertion of abortion rights, and the clash of generational values in the Ryan clan– quickly won it a loyal following.  But as society caught up with Ryan’s Hope, the show’s edge dulled, ratings dropped, and it was brought to a close.

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Written by LW

January 13, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Wisely, and slow. They stumble that run fast…”*

 

Last Friday in Norway, 1.3 million people watched strangers knit on television. For four hours they tuned in as people talked about knitting, and then they stuck around for eight and a half extra hours of actual knitting. I’m serious.

National Knitting Evening is not the first program belonging to a genre called “Slow TV”: Norway’s public TV company, NRK, is responsible for several. Its predecessors include behemoth-size studies on a train trip from Bergen to Oslo (the station’s first, in 2009, clocking in at seven hours), a cruise ship (a record-breaking five days), salmon swimming (18 hours) and a fire burning (12 hours, and very reminiscent of our nation’s own Christmas Yule Log broadcast). Norway’s population is just more than 5 million people, and more than half of them watched a cruise ship’s voyage for the better part of a week…

Read more at the always great Grantland in “Wait For It: Norway’s Slow TV Revolution.”

* Shakespeare, Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 3

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As we take our time, we might recall that it was on this date in 1936 (though some records hold that it was this date inverted– November 21) that the BBC broadcast the first televised gardening program, a special based on a radio staple:  In Your Garden, hosted by C. H. Middleton– known throughout the British Isles simply as Mr. Middleton.  The son of a head gardener in Northamptonshire and a gardening columnist for the Daily Mail, Mr. M, Britain’s first celebrity gardener, introduced and championed the “Dig For Victory” campaign in 1939.  His Sunday afternoon program reached 3.5 million listeners, over a third of the available (licensed) audience in the U.K.

Mr, Middleton

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Written by LW

November 12, 2013 at 1:01 am

I feel the need, the need for speed….

speedbump_city

So, how fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live?  Randall Munroe explains in his ever-illuminating companion to xkcd, What If?

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As we shift into overdrive, we might send receptive birthday greetings to Marvin P. Middlemark; he was born on this date in 1919.  A prolific inventor, Middlemark created such consumer appliances as the water-powered potato peeler; but he is surely best remembered for having developed the dipole television antenna– AKA, “rabbit ears.”  Obviating the need for roof-top receivers, rabbit ears made TV available to the mass market, and are considered by many to be the single most important force behind the 1950s-60s boom in television in the U.S.

rabbit ears

middlemark source

Written by LW

September 16, 2013 at 1:01 am

Tube boobs…

 

There’s a near-embarrassment of good television these days; we are, it seems, in a golden age.  But it’s worth remembering that there has been extraordinary writing and production available right along.  Indeed, the series that’s arguably the consistently best-written show on TV has been running since 1989.

We can be grateful to Adrien Noterdaem for witty reminders to this effect– for his series of drawings depicting the chief characters in today’s best productions in the style of the long-running champ:

John Luther & Alice Morgan from “Luther”

Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson from “Elementary”

See many more at Simpsonized.

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As we program our DVRs, we might send calculatedly campy birthday greetings to Paul Reubens; he was born on this date in 1952.  An actor, writer, film producer, game show host, and comedian, he is of course best known for his character Pee-Wee Herman.

The mind plays tricks on you. You play tricks back! It’s like you’re unraveling a big cable-knit sweater that someone keeps knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting…

- Pee-Wee Herman

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Written by LW

August 27, 2013 at 1:01 am

County Fair…

In 2005-6, photographer Greg Miller travelled the country, from Florida to California, for Life‘s newspaper supplement, shooting that essential summer rite, the County Fair.

Read about the series here; see the full portfolio here.

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As we play with our cotton candy, we might recall that it was on this date in 1939 that another essential summer rite was first telecast: the first major league baseball game was broadcast on New York television station W2XBS (now WNBC-TV).  The double-header, between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cincinnatti Reds was at from Ebbets Field in Brooklyn; the announcer was the now-legendary Red Barber.

W2XBS was something of a pioneer in television sports: it had produced the very first televised baseball game (a college match up between Columbia and Princeton) four months earlier; later that year it televised the first football game; and the following year added basketball and hockey.

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Written by LW

August 26, 2013 at 1:01 am

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it…*

 

Buzzfeed’s intrepid Kate Aurthur dove into a full week’s output from Nielsen, searching for the bottom of the television ratings barrel.

There are many channels in the United States, from the massive (USA, CNN, etc.) to the tiny. So many, in fact, that it does seem possible that at some hours of the day, no one — as in zero humans — is watching them. It’s also possible, of course, that this is where the problems of Nielsen Media Research, which has a monopoly on quantifying ratings, show themselves. If 324 ordinary Joe Shmoes — or 4,000 — did, in fact, watch one of the shows below, but none of those Joe Shmoes is in a Nielsen household, then those viewings do not register. Or, as Nielsen put it when I posed this question to them recently, the shows at the very bottom of the weekly cable list, the ones that get 0.0 total viewers, do not meet “minimum reporting thresholds.”

And yet, it does stand to reason that with hundreds and hundreds of available channels, there could be instances every week when not a single soul is tuning in to certain shows. When there are no longer broadcast networks and cable channels, and everything is digital and on-demand, we can look back at this period and marvel at its ridiculous economics.

I took a random week (Feb. 25-March 3) and delved into what sorts of shows — and cable channels — are members of the Zero Club. I excluded paid programming. And that left 35 shows that got zeros. You did not watch them. I did not watch them either. But here they are…

#1-13 

“WPRA Today,” RFD (Feb. 25, 6:30 a.m.). And 12 other shows on RFD.

What does WPRA stand for, you ask? Why, it’s the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. And there is a show about it. Having not previously known about channel RFD, which bills itself as “Rural America’s Most Important Network,” I am now obsessed with it. (If you are curious what RFD stands for, it’s “Rural Free Delivery,” and as for what that means, it’s so complicated there’s a whole explainer about it on the website.)

RFD focuses on agriculture, equine issues of the day, lifestyle, youth, and livestock auctions. Unfortunately, my cable provider, Time Warner Cable, does not feature RFD — like I needed another reason to hate Time Warner Cable. (Dish and DirecTV customers, I am jealous of you, and I am coming over, k?)

But RFD may want to reconsider their programming mix, because there were 12 other RFD shows that also got zero viewers: FFA Today (Feb. 27, 4 a.m.), Ken McNabb (Feb. 28, 6 a.m.), All Around Performance Horse (Feb. 27, 6 a.m.), Presleys’ Country Jubilee (Feb. 28, 3:30 a.m.), Dennis Reis (Feb. 27, 6:30 a.m.), Julie Goodnight (March 1, 6:30 a.m.), Voices of Agriculture (Feb. 27, 4:30 a.m.), US Dressage (Feb. 27, 3:30 a.m.), Little Britches Rodeo (Feb. 27, 3 a.m.), Ren’s Old Time Music (Feb. 25 and 26, 5:30 a.m.), Chris Cox (Feb. 26, 6 a.m.), and Campfire Café (Feb. 25, 3:30 a.m.). Nielsen families! I call to you to watch these shows! In the middle of the night!

Check out chokes from ESPN, VH-1, Fox, and the rest of the list at “The 35 Least-Watched Shows on TV.”

* after George Berkeley‘s famous thought experiment: “But, say you, surely there is nothing easier than for me to imagine trees, for instance, in a park [...] and nobody by to perceive them. [...] The objects of sense exist only when they are perceived; the trees therefore are in the garden [...] no longer than while there is somebody by to perceive them.” From A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (1710).

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As we prepare to dive, we might recall that it was on this date in 1858 that the first U.S. patent for a combination lead pencil and eraser was issued to Hyman L. Lipman, of Philadelphia, Pa. (No. 19,783).  Lipman’s design reserved one-fourth of the pencil’s length to hold a piece of prepared india-rubber, glued in at one edge; the balance, conventional graphite “lead.”  So, sharpening one end prepared the lead for writing, while sharpening the other exposed a small piece of the eraser.

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Written by LW

March 30, 2013 at 1:01 am

Dancing with scissors…

 

From Brazilian designers 18bis, a very different application of the animation technique– stop motion cut-outs– made famous by South Park:  a beautiful dance inspired by Pablo Neruda’s “The Me Bird,”, set to original music.

[TotH to Wall to Watch]

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As we contemplate the cornucopia that is construction paper, we might recall that it was on this date in 1962 that Jack Paar said “good night” and signed off of The Tonight Show for the final time.  The late night format had been pioneered by Steve Allen, who inaugurated the slot for NBC locally in New in York in 1952, then as a network offer in 1954.  It was structured as a traditional variety show (though it ran 105 minutes), and was quickly tag-team hosted by Allen and Ernie Kovacs, who alternated nights.  Carried on very few affiliates, it failed to satisfy the network, which switched to a news format in that time slot in January of 1957.  The news was even less popular, so in July of the network tacked back, and named Jack Paar the sole host of Tonight.

Paar established the format and tropes that we currently associate with late night shows:  the opening monologue, the regular cast of sketch and skit players, the catchphrase (“I kid you not”), the musical guests, and most centrally, the interviews with celebrities– of all walks, but largely entertainers.  The toll of doing 105 minutes five nights a week was sufficiently wearing that Paar convinced the network to reduce the length to 90 minutes, and later, to produce only four shows a week (starting the trend of “Best of” Fridays that survived him).  The show was a tremendous hit, steadily building carriage and audience; it was Paar who turned The Tonight Show into an entertainment juggernaut.  But he salted his guest list with intellectuals (Paar helped William F. Buckley become a celebrity), politicians (Sen. John F. Kennedy initiated the practice of the “Presidential candidate appearance” on Paar’s show; see photo below), even world leaders.  Indeed, Paar was the center of a firestorm of criticism for interviewing Fidel Castro in 1959.

Exhausted by demands of the show, Paar left to do a prime time series.  His hand-picked successor, who’d been a frequent substitute host during Paar’s vacations, was Johnny Carson.

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Written by LW

March 29, 2013 at 1:01 am

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