Save Yourself From The Exorcist

Ok let’s go on The Exorcist. I own the movie and wasn’t that impressed. I’m really down on this thing where FOX is bringing movies into TV shows. But hey it’s online and not locked behind a stupid paywall like CBS. I’m sure CBS has some great shows but if I miss them on their original air date I’m sure as hell not going to pay to watch them.

I’m curious if this will try to be a horror TV show. I think that would be very tough to bring on a weekly basis.

When I watch shows on something other than Amazon, I really miss the Amazon x-ray feature. Especially premieres.

Did they make this guy talking outside the church look like a clown on purpose? I don’t get the whole clowns thing but it’s pretty creepy.

Thinking. I loved Bates Motel, and that was a movie adapted to TV. Too bad A&E canceled Longmire and I pledged never to watch the channel again. Except for The First 48. I’m a hypocrite.

It’s hard to hear this dialogue. The background noises are too loud. It’s also very dark. Hard to see faces.

They’re clearly holding back the first shot of a possessed kid tied to a bed. It better be worth the reveal.

Marcus loves himself some Marcus. He’s quite poetic. It feels like a movie character, actually.

Plenty creepy!

This couple obviously has something we don’t know. What is it? A death? Feels like death of a child? When will they show us?

This is completely failing to keep my interest. But This Is Us and Pitch have shown that we need to stick around to the end of a pilot.

So there is something inside they’re house and that’s supposed to be interesting. “It’s a demon.” Well okay then. It’s trying to take your daughter? Well that sounds awful!

The thing with the crow was stupid as hell. I’m embarrassed that it happened.

I stopped paying attention. This show is crap.

Pitch Hits The Zone

I don’t have many expectations for Pitch. FOX has been buying ads during inning breaks that feature its baseball broadcasting talent. That makes me immediately suspicious that it simply made up a show to draw eyes to remind that it has the MLB post season.

Given the way ratings suffered the past several seasons, that might not be a bad strategy. Any new TV show has a pretty good chance of failing miserably, so why not spend your pilot money on something that could boost your (very, very expensive) live sports programming?

Okay, let’s see how this goes.

(The Exorcist is a new show? I’m concerned that TV is spiraling down the movie industry’s rat hole of recycled ideas. Let’s not.)

Of course the show about the first female player in baseball history starts with a shot of her legs getting out of bed. Come on, try a little bit here.

Greeting cards from Ellen and Hillary Clinton, product placement from Callaway and Nike. Headphones that don’t say beats but sure look like them. Maybe I was too narrow in what I thought FOX wanted to promote.

Hey it’s Colin Cowherd with a hot take.

It took three minutes for the main character to speak.

You know who would have been great in this dad role? My guy Shemar Moore. He might not be old enough though.

The Padres GM has made an appearance. In real life he is on a one-month suspension for hiding injury records.

If we get the same stereotypical crap here that we got from the military guy in Designated Survivor. Whether it’s players or this dreadful agent/publicist character or whatever it’s gonna get old. Fast.

The number 43 is a great touch.

While we’re here, can we talk about the Padres uniforms?

Actually, Kim Kardashian is very talented. I will go to bat on this.

Hey they’re gonna play the Dodgers! This is great!

What is this live video thing? Is it part of the show or a commercial? Oh god it’s a Kohls commercial. This is hot garbage. And it might be the future of TV.

One thing to think about here is the main character is an athlete, so she’s going to act like an athlete. The public version of most athletes would make a terrible TV character, so that’s something to keep in mind. We’ll have to draw a distinction between how the character is written when she’s in “athlete mode” and when she’s not.

But one thing that doesn’t have to be acting is the TV broadcast characters. They should just be able to do their thing, right? That’s what FOX hired them for! I don’t think Joe Buck did. Reminder: I love Joe Buck.

Couldn’t they have cast a southpaw?🙂

Where have I seen this kid actress? I she the one in Mistresses? I’ll have to look it up. I looked it up. She is. She’s outstanding on Mistresses – well-written and well acted.

Let’s get back to the product placement issue. That’s what we’re used to in sports now. You can’t look anywhere without a logo. So I guess it adds some realism. And this George Clooney commercial about a coffee maker? That was filmed at the Warner Bros. lot.

Oh come on you can’t use real Dodgers? Actually I bet FOX would have gotten way more promotion if it had been able to get Vin Scully. Not only would it be awesome, but Vin was friends with Jackie Robinson so it would be fitting.

Hey this is like watching the Twins pitch! Sorry that was uncalled for. The Twins are worse.

About the decision to have her get off to a dreadful start. From a story perspective, it’s good emotion. It makes me identify with the character. It’s also realistic. Not every debut is Rob Segedin. Wait wasn’t she a starter? You don’t take your starter out that quick. Hey this is a TV show not real life, Watterson.

Remember Matt Fox? Not the actor, Matt Fox the guy the Twins called up in September during a pennant race.

This scene in the hotel is what we should judge the Ginny character by, not the athlete stuff. And it’s good.

He’s right about her being this catcher’s legacy. On and off the field.

Joe Buck can be sarcastic at times, but he is way too professional to ever make a joke like that.

If she beats the Giants you know Pitch is committed to realism.

OMG I just realized the catcher is Zach Morris. WTF. I feel like my life has come full circle. I’m blogging about a show where Zach Morris is a baseball player.

As with every Hollywood production about sports, they managed to find actors with next to no actual athletic ability.

Have you ever held a sparkling white official Rawlings baseball? It’s a beautiful thing. From a pitching perspective, if her fastball tops out in the upper 80s isn’t she basically a screwball version of a knuckleballer.

If this were real life and the manager slapped her butt we’d have a national controversy the likes of which would drive us all off social media forever.

We can add the owner to the list of stereotypical characters.

This better get over, it’s almost time for Dodger baseball.

Hey wait. I approve of what has happened here.

Designated Survivor Premier Live-Blog Review

Here is what I expect from Keifer Sutherland’s new drama, Designated Survivor:

The big event happens early in the pilot, thrusting him to the presidency. It ends with a cliffhanger to make us wonder what happened and season one features a lot of flashbacks leading up to whatever it was.

Now let’s see if that’s what actually happens. I’m about to start watching and will live-blog my thoughts.

I’m choosing this over football, and the Patriots have some pretty solid looking Thursday night uniforms. This better be worth it.

I think we all know how this works. Explaining it is like showing the Superman origin for the 10,000th time.

Do you think the designated survivor (we’ll call him the DS) really wears jeans and a hoodie? And drinks a beer? That would be…unpresidential and actually kinda irresponsible.

Establishing that he has a kid. Solid. Hopefully she’s not as awful as whatever Jack Bauer’s daughter’s name was.

That was okay. It could have been more impactful or shocking or whatever but it was good.

A flashback! Check.

Would the television feed actually flicker out or would it just go out? What an odd thing to wonder.

Going from an explosion that wipes out government at night to eating scrambled eggs that morning feels like it killed a lot of momentum.

I would take an ambassadorship to the ICAO! #avgeek Being booted probably explains his lax attire later that night.

Do we need to talk about – wait…

“What do you want me to do, go to war with the president of the United States?” Um…okayyyy.

Anyway, do we need to talk about whether or not Sutherland’s scratchy voice is a good fit for this part? It was so perfect for Jack Bauer. Let’s give it some time. I assume he was cast to be a president, not a HUDdy duddy. #BureaucracyPuns

This is the first time I’ve thought about the fact that if the DS is elevated to president it can also mean we lost Congress. And the Supreme Court. Jesus. I wonder if networks do a dry run for what to do in this situation.

All of this has to be in place (Do we trust speechwriter guy?) on the night of the State of the Union. I take back what I said about not needing it explained. So hasty am I to judge.

Take control of the room, Mr. President. Do you think they screen cabinet appointees for whether or not they could handle this situation?

This bathroom talk is somewhat convenient.

Have you noticed that so far a lot of my thoughts are about real life and not the TV show? I can’t tell if that’s because the show is lacking or because I’ve always kind of been interested in continuity of government (having once worked in government).

Do we really let the prez hang out on the sidewalk after Congress was blown to bits? I suppose if this character was immediately presidential I would be like oh how convenient that the one guy they leave behind can immediately step into the role of president.

This military guy who wanted to go DEFCON 2 is going to be a problem isn’t he? Could he be any more stereotypical?

When are they going to tell us who this Agent Wills is calling, and why is it important enough that they aren’t revealing it yet?

I like that they’re having Agent Wills reference how real-life attacks seem to go. I think it gives the show credibility. I have to admit also that the possibility of it being the first attack never crossed my mind.

As a communications guy I’m interested to hear the speech they wrote him.

One of the ways I measure how engaging a show is is how many character names I remember. Agent Wills and Tom something that ends in orkman. Workman?

There’s almost always something I dread about a TV show or a movie. In Designated Survivor I think it’s going to be military guy. I really don’t want to put up with a show with such a cookie-cutter character. I hope they surprise me.

All in all I’m not sure yet what kind of show we have in Designated Survivor. There are so many potential elements it can string together from politics to thriller to conspiracy to character. That puts its realm of possibility anywhere between dreadful and brilliant.

Kiefer, it’s on you.

photo credit: ABC

13 Questions For Joe @Buck

I like Joe Buck. A lot. I rated him one of the best baseball play-by-play broadcasters earlier this year and would put him near the top in football as well (he’s the head man for both on FOX). Buck comes to town for Vikings games from time to time and I’m always bothering him on Twitter to see if he’d like to grab a beer and talk broadcasting. He never responds, so I wrote up some questions I would ask him (along with my two cents) if we sat down for a drink.

Do you think growing up in the TV era has changed the way play-by-play callers learn their craft?
I believe it has. For many of today’s announcers sports have always been consumed in a visual medium where broadcasting is often less descriptive, and it means they’re less descriptive as broadcasters. You can really discern this when listening to younger radio announcers call baseball games.

Does a broadcaster have to be old to be “beloved?”
I read a great article on Verne Lundquist the other night and this question came to mind. I think you have to be a sweet old man before we can really feel like friends.

How much do you call looking at the field vs the monitors in your booth?
I wonder this most about baseball. Football seems like it could be called on the view from the booth, but pitches seem like they’re more easily seen on a monitor than up high where you can’t always discern their break.

By the same token, in football, how much can you see and what do you have to rely on spotters for?
It seems like it would be very difficult to be glancing away from the field to see what a spotter is telling you but they always get it right who made a tackle or who was the intended receiver.

What kind of work goes into your preparation? How does it differ than what your color commentators do for prep?

Do you think baseball broadcasts will ever move away from traditional stats?
I think if TV started showing more of the alt stats more fans would accept them. It would require broadcasts commit to giving time for explaining them. Personally I’d like to see more of these stats but I need to know what they mean and what’s a good number vs a bad number. An .850 OPS doesn’t tell me anything if you don’t also explain what a good OPS is.

You’re doing golf now, where traditional play-by-play doesn’t really exist. How is that different for you in terms of your style and how you have to prepare?

How has replay changed the way you call close or questionable plays?
Watching, I feel like sometimes an announcer is hesitant to make a full-blown call on a play if there’s a chance the play will go to a review. Baseball and football.

Are there any sports you haven’t called that you’d like to? Either because you like the sport or you think they would be fun?

Is doing play-by-play in a national broadcast different than local?
I think some color commentators, Ron Darling comes to mind, are much better locally than nationally and wonder if there is any difference from a play-by-play perspective.

How often is someone talking in your ear? Conversely, how often do you have to talk to them while your partner is talking?
Always wondered.

In football you reference when you met with players and coaches the night before a game. What do you ask about in those meetings and how do we see it on the broadcast?
How much of what you plan to talk about in a broadcast never makes it on air?
I’m thinking about games when there’s too much happening to really get into a lot of conversations outside of what’s happening on the field.

When FOX put that score box on a football game for the first time, how much did that alone change how games are broadcast (considering that now it’s in every sport)?

Amazon vs Netflix: iPad App Viewing Experience

I only subscribe to Netflix when there’s a show I want to watch, which lately means a new season of Longmire or House of Cards. Being a month out from the later – read my thoughts on season four here – I logged in tonight to cancel until Longmire comes out in September.

For the last year and a half, Amazon Prime has been my streaming provider of choice. You could debate which one has the better television library. Prime has the HBO library, I think Netflix has more Showtime archives (it’s an add-on to Prime). Netflix probably has more heralded original content with House of Cards and Orange is the New Black compared to Transparent as Prime’s most notable show. Unless you consider The Man in the High Castle notable for being awful. Prime definitely tops Netflix for streaming movies. The point is, which has the better streaming library depends on what you want to watch.

But after using both, it’s definitively the case that the Prime viewing experience in the iPad is far superior to Netflix. Here is a screenshot comparison.

Prime has several overlay options for navigation and information. You can hop forward or backward by 10 seconds while Netflix only lets you go backward. Both let you turn on closed captioning, and Netflix has an option to jump straight to a different episode (upper right, to the left of closed captioning).

From there, Prime leaves Netflix in the dust. Prime has an awesome overlay feature it calls X-Ray. Powered by the IMDB, X-Ray delivers everything IMDB knows about what you’re watching: actors, music, trivia and characters. It’s a fantastic feature, especially if you’re the, “Hey, wasn’t she in…” type. Which I am. I enjoyed it most when I was watching X-Files, which I eventually gave up because it was boring. But before that I swear every episode had an actor who went on to appear in some other show I watch. It’s like the Bill Walsh coaching tree of television.


Netflix House of Cards Season 4 Screenshot


IMG_0408 IMG_0407

You’ll notice the second Prime screenshot is when using Airplay to send it from the iPad to Apple TV. Lack of an Apple TV app is Prime’s biggest shortcoming if you’re in the Apple universe, but Airplay works just fine and an app is surely coming.

This isn’t intended to be a total Prime vs Netflix comparison because that would surely entail a much deeper look at their catalogues and pricing. But if you are keeping track at home, Prime has one feature Netflix can’t match: Offline viewing. Prime lets you download TV episodes and movies to your device to watch offline, such as in the car, on the bus or at the gym. Netflix isn’t doing this, for the most preposterous reasons you can imagine.  Basically it thinks you’re too stupid and lazy to do it.

I won’t be re-upping with Netflix until the Longmire season five (season four ended with someone breaking into Walt’s house while he and his GF were getting friskay). Until then I’ll enjoy the superior viewing experience Prime offers and wondering why Netflix is so far behind.