Tag: TV

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Humor, Television, Travel

David S. Pumpkins will make your Halloween.

Any Questions?

This is my favorite skit in ages from SNL. I can’t even begin to describe why…. but I’ll try.

First of all, this skit just happened to be on SNL the same day that we took the NBC Studio Tour in New York City, where we got to see the legendary Studio 8H, the place Saturday Night Live has been produced for over 40 years. So, immediately +5 points, right?

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American Idol

The American Idol Grand Finale

And this… was American Idol…

I started writing this just after the American Idol: American Dream retrospective special, and finished up just after midnight a few days after the finale, so if I jump around incoherently, that’s why. Or at least it’s my excuse. But either way I’ve definitely been in the mood to type a bit about the most influential music show of the 21st century… This post may be ever-evolving too, as I sit back and think “And Another Thing! … ”

It actually might be a little bit tough to add to what has already been an hour and a half of “looking back.” But, I think I might have a bit to add. I’m gonna try not to say things like “as they said on the special…” because some of it obviously is going to be duplicate information. Other stuff, not so much.

Simon: The shock of the show

As much as I like to feel like a true fan of the show, it must be said that I wasn’t there from the beginning. Not the absolute beginning, anyway. I remember when I first started watching Idol. My brother had been after me for a couple of weeks to watch this new singing competition on television and the mean British guy who was on there. I heard him mutter names like “Tamyra” and “Guarini” and not have a clue what he was talking about.

You gotta hear what this guy Simon is saying to these people! They’re trying to sing and he stops them and tells them they suck!

I vividly remember sitting in my office chair at my previous house in Bridgeport and deciding it was time to tune in. It was the first episode of the top ten. I had missed what was probably the most entertaining and shocking portion of season one, the auditions. I did catch clips here and there to make up for this later, but this was 2002 and YouTube was yet to be invented. And there certainly was no “Fox on Demand.” Shoot. Idol didn’t even have americanidol.com at this point in time. They started out with idolonfox.com. At any rate, even though I joined the party a bit late, I was hooked.

Kelly Wins over a nation — But, how?

Of course, Kelly went on to win Season 1, and thankfully so.  I think, quite possibly, if Justin Guarini had gone on to win that first season, there’s a good chance Idol would never have had the chance to take off. But without Kelly’s success, Idol would have become just an average TV show. But ordinary people — viewers — felt invested in Kelly’s success. They came out in full force to support Kelly after her victory by snatching up CD’s and making her one of American Idol’s power stars.

One thing I will say about the early years of Idol, and the successes that came with it, is how American Idol took a relative “nobody” and turned them into a superstar virtually overnight. And something I never quite got in the first seasons is how the audience, especially the studio audience, can go so crazy over someone who, just last week was a relative “nobody.” The show works, but how?

I think the key, to be honest, is fake enthusiasm. That may sound a bit critical coming from a fan of the show, but I think, mainly in the first season, a lot of fake enthusiasm was manufactured. The eruptions and adulation in the stands worked as a visual cue to those of us at home that simply said “I’m crazy about this singer, and you should be, too!” So, one major factor to Idol’s success was the generation of fake enthusiasm, which is indistinguishable from genuine enthusiasm to a television audience. You can see it and hear it sometimes from the crowds of season one. The sudden, unnatural eruptions of cheers and the prodding of producers barely in camera range. This helped build a franchise, one fan at a time.

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Humor, Television, Who

Doctor Who, the Shut Up Supercut

So, we’ve been really getting into Doctor Who since the BBC America Doctor Who marathon on New Year’s Eve. We watched several Season 8 episodes, and we quickly noticed how these people really like to try to get one of the others to stop talking…. Or as they frequently say — “Shut Up!”

In honor of this frequent occurrence, I present to you, the Shut Up Supercut, created by BlogtorWho.com.

American Idol, Music, Television

American Idol Season 13 — It’s Finale Time

So, once again we are down to the final two on American Idol… It’s definitely true that Idol is not what it used to be but I think that’s got more to do with the oversaturation of music talent programs on TV at the moment, and not really to do with the talent that Idol still produces.  Although I think they’d be hard pressed to have another season finale like season two, when Ruben and Clay went head-to-head.

The only thing left to determine this year is who will come out on top.  Will it be the dark horse, “everyone-get-those-glow-sticks-up” Jena (not Jena) or will it be the rocker Caleb, who was finally reached the finals after trying out for Idol on three occasions? I honestly believe Caleb will win this evening because he will have the most supportive fans and there’s no doubt he’s talented enough to win.  But as far as being the next pop star goes, I think Jena has a better shot at success.  She certainly has the voice to take her far on radio, and she can command a performance.  

As far as Season 13 goes… well, I liked it better than last season, but that’s not saying much.  Last year was just a hot mess of freaks, led by Nicki Minaj. (Zoanette, anyone?)  I read that next season Idol will be cut back to one night per week.  Can’t really figure out how that’s going to work, when performances are one night, and results are the next.  What, are going to have to wait a whole week before learning the singers’ fate?  “Ten singers prepare to sing on Tuesday, but first, let’s see which of these ten is not going to have the opportunity to sing for America.”  I can’t imagine that…

Keith, JLo, and Harry have performed well as judges.  I had been rooting for Harry to be a judge since he mentored last season.  He knows what he’s talking about and provides constructive criticism.  Of the three, he is my favorite judge.  Keith and JLo both provide appropriate commentary and are entertaining on their own, and much more tolerable than.. “some past judges.”

So now all that remains is to announce a winner.  But either way, the Idol machine will roll on…

Listen to a preview of the final two’s first releases below:

 

Sports, Television

If you want the Olympics, you don’t want Suddenlink

So, after chatting with a Suddenlink support specialist it appears that those of us in north central West Virginia who have Suddenlink for TV and Internet will be unable to watch any Olympic coverage online this year.
It appears that you must subscribe to both CNBC and MSNBC to be “allowed” to watch content online. Well, unfortunately for us WV folk, CNBC is not available for subscription, thereby knocking all Olympic coverage out the window for us.

So much for being able to recommend Suddenlink for TV and Internet. They had a decent track record with me prior to this. But don’t even get me started on Dish network… Much worse.

Television

‘V’ returns to television

One of my all-time favorite shows is coming back to TV tonight.  I’ve watched a few of the preview videos available online, and I will say that the special effects are incredible.  But I’m concerned about some of the aspects of the Visitors that I haven’t yet seen in the previews.  In the old series (and movies) the Visitors were easily identified both visually and audibly with their bright red uniforms and that little swastika-like symbol, and the obvious harmonic effect eerily present underneath all the Visitor’s voices.  (Actually, the swastika was only one of the many components of an entire backstory that often revolved around the Holocaust.)

So, I wonder: How many of these elements survive in the new ‘V?’ Will there be another Holocaust theme? Maybe it will evoke memories of a different tragedy, perhaps 9/11.  Will we be able to tell humans from Visitors? Most importantly, are they still big ugly green reptiles underneath?

I will be tuning in to find out.

American Idol

American Idol Season 8 Tour – Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh-Idols

Pictured above, American Idol 8 winner Kris Allen leads the Top 10 in a finale performance of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Behind him (L-R) are Scott MacIntyre, Lil Rounds, Michael Sarver, Danny Gokey, runner-up Adam Lambert, Allison Iraheta, Megan Joy, Anoop Desai, and Matt Giraud.

I guess you could say I’m a pretty big American Idol fan.  I have now been to four of the eight seasons’ tours.  Season 2, 4, 5, and 8.  This group was simply too good to pass up.  I can easily see about five of these Idols getting signed and putting out quite a good CD.

And another thing I’d like to point out: These singers sound much better in person.  They honestly do.  I expected some of the bottom of the pack to be just mediocre, but they were actually quite good.  I’ll kind of do a mini-review of each performer here, like I’d do if the show were on:

Michael – I’ve got to say he was really much better in person than I remember him from the show.  He had a good command of the stage and was vocally pretty strong. He did a surprisingly good job of opening the show and getting the crowd pumped up.

Megan – You know, the thing about Megan – she’s got one style and she does it well.  Beyond that, she’s out of her element.  But what she sang on the tour pretty much fit her.  She seems more in her element when she sings “Put Your Records On” than with “Tears Dry on Their Own.”

Scott – Scott never ceases to amaze me.  He’s best when he’s sitting at the piano belting out a song.  He reminds me of a good 80’s pop singer.  I actually have always though Scott would make a better songwriter/arranger than a singer, but after hearing him on the tour, I think he could make a compelling CD.

Lil – Got to say right away, my favorite song from Lil was “Single Ladies.”  I like the energy she brought to the song and I liked the arrangement and all the video effects going on at the point.  Very good performance.  Tina really liked her outfits and her shoes.

Anoop – I tend to like Anoop on his upbeat songs more than his ballads.  I liked his version of “My Prerogative” best.  He’s very talented, he’s got a great voice and showed some personality on tour.  He’s one of the ones I could see with a future CD.

Matt – Another one who really surprised me on the tour.  I don’t remember liking him nearly as much while watching the show.  He really showed some talent busting out the piano.  One highlight of the tour is watching Matt and Scott with a little “dueling piano” performance during “Tell Her About It.”  He also was able to get the crowd pumped with a little swing of “The Terrible Towel.”

Allison – Finally, we’re getting to the meat and potatoes of the evening.  Starting with Allison there is a whole new electricity in the arena.  I think “So What” was probably her strongest song (other than “Slow Ride” with Adam.  That’s a whole ‘nother level…).  She’s definitely got the whole package to be a successful star, possibly up there with Kelly Clarkson.

Danny – Okay, first off I need to say that Danny’s last solo song, “My Wish,” was probably my favorite performance of the whole night.  I just thought he delivered that song perfectly.  If it was available for purchase right now, I’d get it.  Very touching song and it goes right with how I see Danny as a person and as a performer.  That’s the road he needs to go down.  Almost a pop/country singer.  His other songs (“Maria, Maria”, “PYT”) were both strong, but not as good as “My Wish.”

Adam – For me, it seemed like Adam was the star of the show tonight.  He had the loudest screams, the best introduction, and was certainly the most entertaining (overall) of the night.  The crowd really was as loud as I’d ever heard it at any Idol concert I’ve been to.  Sometimes I think the fans of the runner-up are more vocal simply because they feel compelled to show extra support for their contestant.  “Mad World” was one of the best songs on the tour.  It just fits him right and when he slows it down, he’s just right on.  And, as I’ve already mentioned, his duet with Allison on “Slow Ride” is just great.

Kris – And of course the show builds up toward the appearance of the winner, which is made all the more interesting considering that Adam’s introduction is so “in your face” and Kris’ is more laid back.  Again, just the difference in their styles.  Kris is very good at what he does, and his performance of “Heartless” will not disappoint any of his fans.  And when Kris starts into “Hey Jude” the whole audience gets involved by digging out the cell phones and lighters (some with cell phones with lighter apps on them) and the whole arena begins to sway back and forth.

And the whole evening is brought to a close by a little bit of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”  Very good close to the show.  I actually could have used more group numbers.  In the past I thought there were too many, this year not enough.

I thoroughly enjoyed the concert this year.  The Idols did not disappoint.

American Idol

American Idol 8 – Season Finale

Kris Allen and Adam Lambert discuss their final performances (and a bit more) courtesy of CNN.com

So, the Season 8 winner will be announced tonight. The finale episode begins tonight at 8pm ET on FOX. Here’s my recap from last night’s final performances:

Okay, well, it’s finale night. It’s been a rather long (but interesting) season. Oh, cool opening. I think they just re-did that, though. I don’t think that was really from the first auditions. Was that Fred? In the audience? That looked like Fred! Hey Randy, nice suit, dawg! I see Paula chose the brightest of the three possible dresses… And Simon’s got his shirt open down to his…

You know, Kris choosing to go second – that’s always a smart move. I like that Ryan’s actually admitting “Hey, we don’t stand a chance of ending on time tomorrow night. I’m just tellin’ ya… So, set your DVR’s accordingly…” And he also says the lines will be open for at least 4 hours tonight. He might as well come out and say it: “We’re leaving the lines open until we get 100 million votes. Period.”

Adam’s up first… What will he choose as his favorite of the season? He’s had quite a few memorable performances. How can he settle on one?

AdamOh, “Mad World.” Good choice, since Simon gave him the standing “O” and half of America didn’t get to see it the first time anyway… Man, he’s channeling his inner Edward tonight… Very good performance. That’s right up his alley. The only thing it really lacked was the “surprise” factor that Adam usually brings, but that should be expected (duh) ‘cause he’s done that song before. Yes, Randy, “Twilight.” That’s it. I liked the fog effect. I like the added drama.

KrisI like the “1 Music Coupon” touch. Kris, going off the board a bit with his song choice tonight. I didn’t expect this one. I was fully expecting “Heartless.” I like this performance though. I like that he was very emotional singing that song. Simon’s clap just looks so patronizing, doesn’t it? “I have to clap for him.” The only thing that slightly bugs me about him is his transition into his falsetto. A little too rocky for me. “Allenizing?” Nice word Paula. What about “Lambertizing?”

Sometimes I think maybe Simon is antagonizing the Adam fans tonight in order to get their butts voting. Simon is one of the most manipulating TV personalities on… (ahem) TV. He knows exactly what he’s doing…

AdamSong two. I remember Taylor Hicks singing this during his audition. Pause. What the… hold on… Wow, man. First off, that has got to be the absolute weirdest song choice. Ever. But, it didn’t really matter. He still “sang his face off.” But what’s funny about that performance is this: I don’t think he’ll gain any new fans because of it. The anti-Adam contingency will still say “he’s screaming too much” but his die-hard fans will love it.

KrisKris, round 2… See, I like how he scales it back. He just is the opposite of what Adam is, man. And I mean that in the best way possible. That is where Kris shines, when he “acoustics it up a little bit.” Oh, Simon, I think he did. I think he definitely made the song his own. But I will still agree that Round 2 goes to Adam.

Now comes the performance that will basically kick-start their careers. This is the song they will be singing repeatedly, night, after night, after night during this summer tour. It’s time for the “Winner’s single.” No boundaries.

AdamThat was good. I like the song, and it’s nicely enough written (kudos Kara) that both Adam and Kris can make that song their own. I don’t totally agree with Randy, but I did see a few cracks appear in his voice for the first time this season. I like those kind of “positive uplifting mountain and hurricane” songs Simon. I think it’s the obligatory “Coronation Song” that is befitting a newly crowned Idol. Did Adam seal it up with his version? Well, it’s too soon to tell.

KrisOkay, the last performance of the season. I like Kris’ arrangement. Talk about pitchy though. At first I was thinking this song was too low, now I’m thinking it’s too high. Same cracks in Kris’ voice. What I really like about the same song being sung by both finalists: I like hearing the different arrangements. Kara is right. Don’t hold that song against Kris. It was a little weird for him. Seemed too low, seemed too high.

To be honest, in analyzing the last song, I think Kris’ recording would be better than Adam’s… But I think Adam sang it better. To me, Kris’ second song was his best of the night.

It’s been an amazing season of Idol. With all the drama and all the controversy of this season, it’s come down to this, tonight. Kris has certainly proven himself worthy of being in the final two, but I’ve still got to go with Adam to win the whole thing. That’s my personal preference. But, to be honest, I think the American public will vote Kris the winner of American Idol 8. And I don’t really have a problem with that. I can completely understand why someone would choose Kris over Adam. Like I said, to me, Adam is the better entertainer, has been more consistent all season, and has the best chance for all-around commercial success after the show ends tomorrow night.

But I just have a feeling that America will vote Kris the winner.

So, to wrap it up… My personal pick:

Adam

Kris

But I don’t necessarily think it will end up that way… I am totally looking forward to tomorrow night’s finale… I’ve been reading the tweets of @dannygokey, @michaelsarver1, @MGiraudOfficial, @IdolScott, @agcruc, and Anoop’s which (for some reason) this site won’t let me type (but it’s @Anoop (Dog with two g’s) Desai) – and it’s been really interesting to read their thoughts over the past few days. This has been a very talented group of singers, and I can’t wait to hear the music that this group generates on the charts.

 

Television

That Michael J. Fox Special

I actually meant to type a lttle blurb about this last week, but things have been very busy around here lately.  What, with all the dancing, singing, and ball playing going on in the evening hours…

But anyway, I just wanted to note how much I enjoyed watching the Adventures of an Incurable Optimist last Thursday.

I know that Michael probably can’t work at a full-time show, but I would really enjoy seeing more episodes of this show.  Even if it’s only quarterly or monthly.  I would like to see a sort of “State of Optimism” update…

For those of you who didn’t catch it, here is a clip directly from ABC’s website: [Clip is now “directly from YouTube” since ABC can’t seem to keep a consistent link to a video…]

And for more information about the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, visit the site at http://www.michaeljfox.org/