TV – My Schedule’s Better than “Live”

The TWIM guys, when they say that “[Internet-delivered] video rises above novelty” repeatedly say that TV doesn’t have to be live “except for sports and news.” I’d put forth that more and more of us every day aren’t even watching sports and news “live.”

Sure, I may start watching a game – like today’s Seahawks/Bears game – when it’s broadcast begins (and there’s no guarantee that it’s really “live” anyway, there’s at least a few second delay due to network latency and FCC regulations). Once we’re through the first few commercial sets, though, it’s a different tory. The commercials begin, I hit ‘pause’ on the DVR and go get a drink. I return, skip past the commercials and continue watching the game, but I may be behind the broadcast by at least a few minutes. I don’t care – I get the game and all it’s excitement as though it’s live, because it is live for me. My “live” just doesn’t correspond with the rest of the nation’s.

As for news, heck there’s nothing really live there anyway. (Nothing worth watching either, but that’s another story.) “Action News at 5” or 6, 10 or 11 certainly isn’t; the closest you can get is CNN Headline news or the copies by MSNBC and FOX, and even those are mostly repeats of the same stories, rehashed every half hour.

What they’re really talking about anyway is the flexibility and freedom that are available to us now.

One of the comments left at the TWIM site says “how many people do you know that get excited on Monday because the next new episode of HEROS [sic] is that night?… If it’s not live, it loses a LOT of that excitement.”

I disagree – if my family wants to watch Heroes, we can be just as excited about watching it together as a regular family evening event. We just don’t have to have our lives scheduled by some unknown person at NBC. We can plan to watch it when we want. We might even “schedule” it for the same night it’s broadcast, but that’s our choice. We can stay at a school event or dinner with friends without having to check our watches and rush to get home by 9pm.

It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about TiVo or my cable company’s poor excuse for a DVR, the iTunes Store or Xbox Live Video Marketplace or some other solution. What matters is the option to select the shows I want to watch, have them delivered and waiting for me when I’m ready.

It’s all about the freedom and flexibility to watch what I want, when I want, and optimally where I want. Design an easy-to-understand, easy-to-use system to deliver that and you’ll have earned my business.

Blood Diamond

It’s early yet, but this may just be the movie to see in 2007. It definitely is the one to see this month, while it’s still in theatres.

My son and his girlfriend were going to the movies and invited my wife and me to come along. I’ll admit that I wasn’t too interested in this movie, but after seing it I can’t recommend it enough. Leonardo DiCaprio does a pretty good job, but the main character is really brought to life by Djimon Hounsou.

Blood Diamond is a story set during a war so there’s plenty of action, but the story is much deeper than “just another war movie.” Solomon Vandy is a Mende fisherman in Sierra Leone during the 1990’s civil war. He’s taken by the revolutionaries and forced into the diamond fields, but he’s got only one goal – to reunite his family.

My family. My home. I lost everything!

DiCaprio’s character, Danny Archer, is a mercenary smuggler who ends up helping – or using – Solomon. Archer is driven by his greed, but Solomon stays focused.

Go. Watch Blood Diamond. You’ll be surprised by the depth of emotion not only portrayed by the actors, but also felt by the audience.

Way to Go, Boise State!

Congratulations go to Boise State, and thanks too for a very entertaining game.

Last night’s Fiesta Bowl game was the most exciting, fun-to-watch game that I’ve seen in a long time. The Broncos had heart and played an excellent game, coming back from behind with a 50-yard play on fourth-and-eighteen and touchdown to take the game into overtime. OU scored first in overtime, but Boise State wasn’t done yet, capping off the game with a touchdown and a great “statue of liberty” fake pass for the two-point conversion to win.

Why Buy Last Decade’s Tech?

Over on Blather de la semaine, Geren’s writing about buying a new TV. He writes all about the various formats of HD, but then finally ends with this recommendation:

…look for sets that are SDTV with an ATSC tuner, and know that you’ll have a set that will continue to work for years to come.

70's TV with rabbit earsGood God, why would anyone want to buy an SD display these days? What’s next, telling ’em they should to buy a VCR to watch movies? On a 12 black & white with rabbit ears?

I’m only partly joking, G., but I wouldn’t dream of telling anyone to buy anything but an HD display these days unless only ever watching PBS news and old comedies from the BBC.

Here’s just one example: for the same $379 he’s suggesting to spend, if you don’t mind a little lesser-known (though, I’m told, still good quality) brand, BestBuy’s got an Insignia 27″ Flat-Tube HDTV. It’s not an untra-cool slim LCD or plasma (or even 16:9, which is kindof odd), but you won’t be kicking yourself when you come home from your friends’ house next week, realizing how crappy your DVDs and games look on SD. Or as you realize that more of your favorite shows are becoming available in HD each month, for just a few bucks more to the cable company.

but hey, that’s from a tech geek’s perspective, I may be just a bit biased toward the future.

Looking for LOST Archives

I promise, this weblog is not going to turn into a journal of Battlestar Galactica and LOST watchings, but I do have one question for those of you who are fans.

I’m looking around and there are plenty of podcasts about LOST, and many if not most of them are also available through the iTunes Music service.

Given that I’m new to the series – I’m just going through the DVD set of Season 1 for the first time here – which one weblog or podcast would you’d recommend? Preferrably one with a good archive, so I can go back and read or listen through at the same pace at which I’m viewing the episodes? Comment here or drop me a line via email. Thanks.

BSG: Humanity’s Interesting

About the inital Cylon attack in Battlestar Galactica’s miniseries, Dave R. writes:

The battlestar Galactica survived by virtue of its being obsolete and on the verge of retirement, thus making it a low-priority target.

The other, and perhaps as important reason being of course that Commander Adama distrusted technology and had kept Galactica purposefully low-tech, meaning that the Cylon “cybernetic attacks, computer viruses” didn’t work. I haven’t heard the producer talk about it yet on his podcast but it seems to me that though he has an admiration for Gene Roddenberry‘s Star Trek he wants to tell a different type of story.

In both Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation, technology was almost inherently a good thing. There were cases in a few episodes where bad people used technology to do bad things, and of course the Borg were brought in to try to show the danger inherent in reliance on too much technology, but for the most part the civilization was one in which technology had been used to enhance life and promote freedom.

Onboard the Galactica on the other hand, technology is secondary to the humans and a tool of the enemy. All the technology of the colonies didn’t save Caprica or the rest of the fleet from attack; in fact it was exploited by the Cylons – who themselves are an outgrowth of tech arrogance. Ships break down, tools aren’t completely reliable, and bad things happen to when computers are networked. Human hard work and feelings – both intuition and feelings for each other – are what keeps civilization going.

From a storyteller’s point of view, that makes the story perhaps harder and messier to write – they can’t just whip out the Widget Of The Week to save the day – but isn’t that what makes “real” life interesting – the messiness of humanity?

 


 

For whatever it’s worth, I agree with Dave on another point he makes – getting more people to watch the BSG Miniseries could serve to build the fanbase and increase viewership. Spinning up new fans, before season three begins, can only be a smart move. Get ’em hooked with enough time to then buy or borrow the season 1 & 2 DVDs, this isn’t a series you want to jump into mid-stream.

Giving the miniseries away for free via the iTunes Music Service would help with a “connected” segment of the population; getting the Sci-Fi channel to show it again during primetime, before the third season starts would also be a big help, as would getting Season 2.5 out on DVD quickly. For that matter, if they could get Blockbuster to carry the DVDs that would help – at least here in my area there’s not one BSG disk on Blockbuster’s shelves.