Thursday, January 8, 2015

Something New: Discovery Life Channel

Do you know what happens next Thursday? Discovery Fit & Health will become Discovery Life Channel (DLC) to the 47 million households getting the network! Programming is designed to look at ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, and it will explore the full landscape of human emotions, with triumphs, troubles, and transformations.

In the 8 o'clock hour each night, we'll see Medical Mysteries, followed by Trauma Drama, followed by Medical Incredible. Other series planned to air include such titles as Tales from the Maternity Ward, Married to the ER, I Saved Myself, Medical Detectives, Mystery Diagnosis, Untold Stories of the ER, Families on the Brink, and Ripped Kids. I'm a bit skeptical about that last one, but a few of the others seem like they'd do well with the target crowd: adults 25-34, particularly women.

Re-branding channels is nothing new (Discovery just made The Military Channel into American Heroes Channel last year), but you always have to wonder what sort of research goes into figuring out whether it's a good idea or not. American Heroes allowed Military Channel to branch out into series like Gunslingers, and feature Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday as characters, even though they're not military folks, but the switch from "Fit & Health" to "Life" seems a little more nuanced.
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Friday, December 12, 2014

Fun Friday: It's Tough to Beat Aaron Sorkin

I tend to have no ability to notice directing or writing similarities between movies or television shows. I have friends who can see one episode of a show and realize immediately that it must have been the same writer as another episode because of how they're written. Similarly, a colleague in grad school was obsessed with seeing movies by certain directors because he really liked their styles. While I have no doubt that I probably have my own writing and (theatrical) directing style, I'm oblivious to those of others.
Aaron Sorkin

HOWEVER, I am a big fan of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and an above-average fan of The Newsroom and Sports Night, which are three of Aaron Sorkin's four television dramas. (The fourth being West Wing, which I don't enjoy.) I don't know that I would have put certain trends together stylistically, but once I watch this parody, I can pick out mechanics that I've seen before in this series.

Did you notice these things as Sorkinisms before, or are you putting them together now like I am?
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Thursday, October 30, 2014

An Orange and Black-ish Halloween

Who seriously leaves a handwritten note in this day and age? That would have been unbelievable to the point that I would have known something was up. Having a security camera in the house being the tip-off, however, was a perfect fit for this series and its ideal that you just get so spoiled you don't appreciate what it took to get where you are. I've never really thought of Halloween as a particularly big prank holiday, but I remember Roseanne having related pranks, so I guess it might be a regional or generational trend. I am happy, however, that they had a family-themed costume, as I feel like that's something we never see on television anymore.
Black-ish "The Prank King" (S01E06): Andre decorates the house for Halloween, but the bigger deal is the family pranking one another. These jokes include fake spiders, super gluing items, and wetting someone else's beds... [that last one is gross but was actually pretty funny - a classic example of how younger family members don't totally understand how to participate in a tradition.]

Andre is proud of Zoe's past feats and looks forward to her stuff this year, but she thinks she's outgrown pranking. Andre tries to inspire her by pranking Junior in front of her, but it fails. [I loved the chair gag!] But, little does Dre know, the family works together to prank him into thinking someone is breaking in. But, Dre was wise to it all and played along, and had Josh come scare the family. [Bo punches him in his broken nose - ouch! I was also sad that Josh was punched on purpose at work, too.] And, despite that some of the family doesn't seem to be in the Halloween spirit, they do all dress as the Jackson 5 + Janet. [which is much better than The Beatles!]

The end of the episode played on the old joke that all black people know one another. 
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Friday, October 24, 2014

Try It Out: Fake Off & Friends of the People

It's a big week for TruTV, with two new series premiering on Monday and Tuesday. If you haven't come across the network before, you might have just not noticed - 91 million households in America receive it, though it was formerly Court TV (pre-2008). The channel is designed for reality programming, though it also carries some sports games, particularly NCAA basketball. But, the new series coming are both reality-based, with Monday's 10pm Fake Off being reality competition, and Tuesday's 10:30pm Friends of the People being sketch comedy.
Fake Off promises to be visually stunning (and from what I've seen, it truly is), and promotes a hot type of performance these days - Faking. It's a mix of theatre, improvisation, illusion, and other factors, and will have troupes competing to "re-imagine iconic moments in pop culture." It'll start with ten teams doing 90-second routines, and eliminations would happen one at a time until only America's Fake-Off Champions remain. Judges include Chili (of the music group TLC), Michael Curry (puppet designer for Cirque du Soleil, Walt Disney Theatrical, 1996 & 2002 Olympics Opening Ceremonies, and more), and Harry Shum, Jr. (Mike Chang on Glee).
Friends of the People is set up much like other sketch comedy series, with a bunch of comedians/improvisation artists who also serve as writers and executive producers on the series. There will be recurring characters, they will poke fun at pop culture, and there is inspiration from earlier similar series, like In Living Color. From the bits I have seen, I think that it actually will have a different take than and be more genuine than something like Saturday Night Live. And, yes, you have seen those twins (left in the image above) before - Keith and Kenny Lucas were on 22 Jump Street as residence hall neighbors for the guys.

Fake Off: Monday, October 27th at 10pm.
Friends of the People: Tuesday, October 28th at 10:30pm on TruTV. 

TruTV is on Comcast 65/841, DirecTV 246, DISH 242/9430, FiOS 183/683.
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Fun Friday: Friends Quotes by a Kid

I never thought I'd be taken with Friends. I've said before that I only saw two episodes live during the original run, and I just didn't "get it." I later watched the entire series because my husband had become a fan, and found it to be a good show. However, I don't re-watch it in any way... not late at night, not as background noise, not to catch more continuity issues (there are many). But, I know lots of people who watch it all the time, and I even went to a Friends-themed party last year. All of that said, I think the series has many memorable moments, and somebody has captured their preschooler reciting some of those imprinted lines. Take a look at 20 of them...

My favorite was "Look at me, I'm Chandler. Could I be wearing any more clothes?" because that was such a funny scene!
"That is brand new information," "paper... snow... a ghost!" and "he's her lobster" were also particularly adorable. Were there any that you particularly loved?
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