Archives For cable guys

it’s the day before christmas and there is still no end in sight to the writers strike. although some of the talk shows are heading back without their writers, the next year of television looks to be bleak with reality tv and mid-season replacements. 

for those just joining us, the Writers’ Guild of America is on strike following a breakdown in contract negotiations with the media companies over royalty payments for digital distribution. basically, in their current contracts the writers get paid for writing the shows and then a predetermined percentage for syndication and dvd sales. the writers want a cut of the digital pie, ie shows that sold on amazon’s unbox, aol, itunes, walmart, xbox marketplace, mobile phone viewing and services like comcast’s on demand, the media companies are claiming that there’s no way to determine the value of the online/digital model and that they’re not making money from that particular business model, but as this youtube video by some of the writers of the daily show point out there seems to be a disconnect somewhere. the last writers’ strike happened in during March and August 1988 and cost the movie and television industry approximately $500 million and was over reduced residuals and overseas re-airs.

with no resolution in sight, most of the shows that have gone on hiatus over the holidays are not likely to be back before late 2008, possibly 2009 and there isn’t  likely to be any new scripted television before 2009. new shows are pitched during the middle of the year at the dog & pony show called the upfronts, where the networks show advertisers and affiliates, how well their shows have done during sweeps and present what their ideas are for the coming year, but unless the writers’ strike is resolved quickly there isn’t going to be time to write and shoot pilots before the upfronts. with tons of money on the line most people are wondering why the media companies don’t just settle with the writers and get on with the business of television, the answer interestingly lies with the Screen Actors’ Guild, whose contracts are up for negotiation in June 2008 and are likely to be requesting the same concessions as the writers’ guild thus cutting into the ‘dwindling profit margins’ of the media companies. 

according to this list, there are only a few scripted series with episodes left to air and most of the soap operas are likely to run out of new episodes by the end of January which may sound the death knell for the genre with reality programming, game shows and daytime chat filling the void. with the exception of talk shows, prime time programming is likely to follow the same path, it’s going to be interesting to see how viewers respond, particularly during the sweeps.

don’t forget to read mark’s take on Babel, here.

the thrill of victory

October 26, 2007 — Leave a comment

last weekend saw the last race of the 2007 formula 1 season and it was fantastic. i’ll rarely watch sports on TV, if it’s on i’ll watch enough to keep track, otherwise i don’t generally set out to specific sporting events other than the Olympics and recently NFL football. but my one true sporting passion is formula 1. i’ve stayed up until the wee hours to watch races on the other side of the globe, i’ve been late because of qualifying and best of all, i’m made my family fans.

at the end of the 2006 season when 7 time world champion Michael Schumacher retired, i wondered what the 2007 season would bring. new drivers, new teams and a whole lot of title contenders. the 2007 season was not a disappointment, despite all the off track shenanigans, it was just amazing. at least two races decided by the weather, spectacular crashes and the drivers’ championship down to the wire, what was there not to love?

the coverage this season was lot better than the last. in the us, Formula 1 is broadcast on Speed TV, the practice sessions, the qualifying and with exception of four, all the races of the 2006 and 2007 season. in an effort to bring the sport to the masses, CBS tried in 2006 and Fox in 2007 to broadcast races on their respective networks. good idea, bad execution. both attempts boiled down to one fundamental problem, by forcing the broadcast team to explain the sport to viewers unaccustomed to it, they were alienating the core audience that knows how it works and really just want watch the race. the constant explanations, the firm grasp of the obvious was just irritating. combine that with trying to cram what is normally a three hour broadcast into two hours and broadcast times that fit network schedule and not necessarily a live broadcast, the recipe for disaster is complete.

Formula one returns to Speed TV next March (hopefully). 

find the other half of the cable guys here.

the cable guys return

October 14, 2007 — Leave a comment

when i last lived in trinidad i wrote a column, for a now defunct paper, called the cable guys. in it, my good friend and editor, mark lyndersay  and myself wrote commentary on television. fast forward to now, with more than a little encouragement, the column returns but without a master and completely digital. as i understand it, we both post our weekly reviews on our respective blogs and the provide links to the other and everyone wins. for those of you that have been playing the home game all along this blog will now contain a new category; television. for those just joining us, welcome.  

in the process of trying to get this column written, i’ve come to the realisation that i don’t watch that much television. this season i’m watching an all-time high of eight prime time series with regularity; csi– vegas, miami and ny, heroes, chuck, bones, pushing daisies and bionic woman. however, i’m not sure how much longer the bionic woman is going to last for me, the writing continues to deteriorate and i’ve done the hot chick reluctant hero thing before with alias.  

this week i’d like to talk about one of the new shows i’ve started watching this season; pushing daisies. i love it, sadly i don’t think it’s going to last. it’s well written, it’s funny, it looks fabulous, and pretty much all of those things doom it to failure in this reality tv saturated market.  pushing daisies is from the mind of bryan fuller who brought such brilliant gems as dead like me and wonderfalls, both of which feature fantastic writing, rather quirky story-lines, death and dark-haired heroines. interestingly, a pattern emerges. i loved all those shows and as sure as day follows night, they went away. dead like me lasted two seasons but i believe that’s only because it was on showtime. wonderfalls didn’t even last a full season on fox and only through the outcry of what little fans there were did the whole season become available on dvd. 

looking at imdb, there are only six episodes produced thus far and as much as i’d love to see this series continues, i have my doubts.   the state of network television is sad, it’s all about the recycling. take for example grey’s anatomy, the most watched show last season (i’m basing this on something i read about grey’s being the most expensive media buy on network television) is a slightly new take on the hospital drama. is there a rule that there must always be one on tv? er has started it’s 13th season and before that it was st. elsewhere and before that trapper john, mdand before that… you get the idea. some of the diseases and locations might have changed but they follow the same formula. i’ll admit to having watched all of the above series, maybe that’s what grey’s held no interest for me.   

i’m enjoying pushing daisies while it lasts with no hope for its future. it is honestly too well written and too beautiful for the reality tv swilling public to appreciate and me and the couple thousand people that have grown to love it don’t make up a large enough demographic for advertisers to make it viable. 

catch pushing daisies while you can on wednesdays, 8/7c on abc.  

find the other half of the cable guys here.