Tag Archives: tv

Definition of SyFy

Definition:

  • Sci-fi Channel: Short for ‘science fiction’, it was a channel where old sci-fi shows were displayed for fans of science fiction, including classic movies, B and otherwise.
  • Syfy Channel: Short for ‘syphilis for you’, it is a channel where new sci-fi shows are created based on old sci-fi shows, retreaded and reassembled like crusty multi-colored play doh that is drying out. Also includes new movies where giant CGI animals are sent on a rampage after actors with no will to live (or act).

and a continued amusing rant with pictures at cracked.com.

Fish Custard and the year of Doctor Who

This year of Doctor Who has just been brilliant.  Upon rewatching the season, I’m pretty confident in stating that this has been the best year since the reboot, and that Matt Smith (should he decide to stick around for a bit) is going to become the new icon of what the Doctor is (this title is still currently held by Tom Baker).  Because I think everyone should be taken along on this ride, I’m not going to talk about anything past the first 15 minutes of the first episode.

Over the years I’ve found myself drawn to writers / actors that can use tempo as emotion, because there is a kind of power in it that nothing else delivers.  The canonical example of this is MASH.  Alan Alda would be chattering about at break neck speed about all manner of frivolity.  You would get into the rhythm and speed and be carried along for the ride.  And then, reality would hit, and he’d stop in an unexpected way in mid stride.  This created an emotional lurch, like when you’re on a boat and it comes to a stop on the docks.  Not many can pull this off in a natural way.  Aaron Sorkin is the current American king of this, as embodied in Sports Night.  And now with Steven Moffat in charge, and Matt Smith in the drivers seat, we get this in Doctor Who.

The keystone moment of all of this is the fish custard scene that opens up the season.  Having just crash landed in 9 year old Amelia Pond’s garden shed, he asks little Amelia to give him an Apple, as he’s having a craving (“I think I’m having a craving.  That’s new, I’ve never had cravings before.”).  The moment he takes a bite he spits it out, and we end up with a brilliant montage through much of what’s in Amelia’s refrigerator, each with a slapstick like ending.  He finally settles on fish sticks and custard.  And then we get this:

Young Amy: I’m not scared!
The Doctor: Course you’re not, you’re not scared of anything! Box falls out of the sky, man falls out of a box, man eats fish custard! And look at you… just sitting there. So you know what I think?
Young Amy: What?
The Doctor: … Must be a hell of a scary crack in your wall.

Timed and delivered perfectly.  And that sets the stage for the whole season.

So if you haven’t started watching Doctor Who yet, now is the time to start.  And do yourself a favor and make sure not to watch the “Next Time” bits at the end of the episodes.  They are now giving away far too much of the plot and ruining many of the surprises over the first half of each episode.  We stopped watching those half way through the season, and that was a great choice.

Why I’m excited for Google TV

One of the things that most excited me out the Google I/O event a couple weeks back was Google TV.  It’s a set top box that brings a lot of web content to the TV.  But what really excites me about it is that it’s an Android platform, that will have access to the market place.  Having this announce come out a couple days after I pushed my first Android app out got me even more excited about the platform.

In my house I’ve got the following devices: a thermostat that’s attached to my home network, with a web interface that lets me adjust the temperature and programs; a TED 5000 energy monitor which is on my home network; a set of weather station sensors that I’m collecting data from on my home server.  Each of these have some web interfaces, non consolidated, to get data, and small little screens on the respective devices to go and see what’s going on.  And in my living room I’ve got a 42″ TV, with brilliant color.

I want all these various home sensors and actuators to show up on my TV, and for me to be able to control them from there.  I keep looking at my logitech harmony remote and really thinking that I should be able to use channel up / down to adjust the temperature in my house when we’re hanging out on the couch watching TV.  Not that many months ago, intrigued by how the Netflix Instant Bluray disc worked, I started looking into the Bluray Java spec, and realized that if I had to I could probably build a disc for my PS3 that would do most of this, but it would be pretty custom, and the dev / test cycle would burn through a lot of bluray media.  I tried to download the Popbox SDK to see if they’d give me what I want, but they’ve made it impossible for me to actually do that.

Google TV is going to give me a set top box in my living room that will let me get access to a wide range of content, which will be great, but also let me publish my own code to it.  As a creator of software, having that application channel, even for only my own use, is just incredible.  The fact that it will share a lot of characteristics with my phone makes it all the better.

I really can’t wait until Logitech gets it’s box out there, and I’ve got something to experiment with.  Having my livingroom TV be the nerve center of my home is a concept that seems so natural, and I’m surprised has taken this long to bring us this kind of tech.

RIP Carl Macek

Carl Macek was the TV producer that brought American kids Robotech in 1985.  Robotech was spawned out of the Anime series Macross, but because Macross was only 36 episodes, and you needed 80 to get a daily syndication run in the US, he came up with this crazy idea to mash it up with 2 additional series that had giant robots, do a little re-editting, and make an over arching 3 generation story arc.  It sounds crazy, but it really did work.

Kids TV in the mid 80s was thinly veiled toy commercials, however because Robotech’s product partner was a model company, they were able to shoot for a higher level of sophistication with an 11 – 14 target audience.  It meant that Robotech had a real plot, real emotions, real conflict, in a way that nothing else did at the time.

I have fond memories of waking up early on Saturdays and Sundays to watch it.  In college I managed to get video tapes of the show from my friend Julie, who was 3 years older, so had the sophistication to actually record these things when she was a kid.  Later, when Harmony Gold finally rereleased Robotech on DVD I managed to do what most people can’t, buy a little piece of my childhood back.  I still love the series to this day.

Carl, thank you for what you created.

Instead of a moment of silence, I’ll leave you with the opening credits from Robotech as the best tribute that we could give to Carl.