Tag Archives: television

Prime Time

Last month, the new prime time tv programmes were rolled out. Many are good. They threw my life into chaos because I actually wanted to watch them.

Person of Interest prime time tv cbsPerson of Interest, Prime Suspect and Pan Am are my new “can’t miss” tv. I’d seen ads for Person of Interest – wasn’t sure. Too many kinda spooky ‘person with special powers’ series in the past years. But Person of Interest has an interesting angle on it: a post-9/11 Big Brother analysis of “national security.”

Prime Suspect I was doubtful of. British series are usually done best by the British, and I didn’t like the idea of the wonderful Helen Mirren series being replicated, or mutilated, by Hollywood. But it isn’t.  It stands on its own merits as does the star Maria Belo.

stewardesses in front of Pan Am logo ad posterThe ads for Pan Am were wonderful. Could the show live up to them? Yes. I’d feared a pale imitation of Mad Men, cashing in on the 1960s milieu evoked so wonderfully by it. (We’ve watched the first seasons of MM on Boxee.) Or superficial “coffee, tea or me?” T&A. But it’s a beautiful looking history and geography lesson with good stories and good acting.

I watched the premiere of The Playboy Club. Same ‘60s women-centred setting. Overtly T&A, fitting the subject matter. Hmm, wait and see was my opinion. No time – it was cancelled after three episodes! I was sorry because I have a soft spot for Eddie Cibrian who was the male star. Eddie Cibrian in The Playboy Club NBC banner adI interviewed him when he was bad boy Matt Clark on Y&R and liked him. I was delighted to see him in a big prime time series.

Our favourites are still on and still good. House has had big changes and it’s still great. The CSI, Criminal Minds and Law & Order franchises (including L&A UK), Harry’s Law and the excellent Flashpoint opening title shotCanadian Flashpoint. And now, new shows! It’s been quite a change in our household.  We’d become accustomed to having the tv on the least annoying programme while we worked on computers. That was ok, except when you really wanted to watch something good and all that was on your 500 channel galaxy was America’s Got Talent and its clones.

“57 channels and nothin’ on”

I was ready to cancel cable – it was very expensive white noise. I took these pictures Riverdance in Beijing PBS on our tvone evening last year when I’d really wanted to watch tv. The best thing I could find was Riverdance in Beijing on PBS. While good, it wasn’t what I wanted, so I just went to bed with a book. $100 a month for Rogers Cable basic HD package, and my entertainment was a novel borrowed, for free, from the library.

I can’t blame Rogers for network programming.  reading book M Grimes Lamorna WinkBut I can ask why they organize their channel packaging the way they do. You know there are shows you want to watch, but you have to pay extra for their channels. You get, ‘free’, a lot of channels that just slow down your guide scrolling. The Fireplace Channel. Rogers-owned sports teams channels. Shouldn’t they be specialty channels paid for by thems that want them?

Recently, my stepson hooked up a wire to our tv, without cable. We got in six channels clearly. Only CBC, our national broadcaster, was snowy. If I knew the networks would keep the quality and type of programming they introduced this fall, I’d cancel cable and rely on what we can get over the air. But I can’t be sure, so Rogers dodged a bullet.

The Death of Soaps

In April, ABC announced the cancellation of All My Children and One soaps AMC and OLTL title cards x'd outLife to Live.  They will be replaced by a cooking show and a health and beauty show.  Wow, we need more of those.  Maybe they can get Dr. Gupta.  We don’t see him on tv enough.  Maybe they could roll all the talk, reality, health and cooking shows into one and have Sharon Osborne and Jamie Oliver judging people while they sing and cook and Dr. Gupta can measure cholesterol levels.  Any of the gazillion talk show hosts could narrate.  They could just run it straight for 4 hours every afternoon.  Low production costs, so it would work for American network daytime executives.

Why are American soap operas dropping like flies?  President of ABC Daytime Brian Frons says people want different types of daytime viewing.  He says the ratings for soaps are low and the costs are high.  The strong soaps will survive, he says.  I hope he realizes that before too long, only the strong food/health/beauty/talk/reality shows will survive too.  He’s adding two newbies to an already overcrowded screen.  Meanwhile, over 40 years of viewing and production loyalty has been chucked down the drain.

Soap fans do not want to watch beauty makeovers or cooking tips.  Maybe they do, in addition to their stories but not instead of.  The whole point of soaps is that they continue and build.  You follow people’s life and get to know them.  Soap viewers want continuity, not cheap tricks.  We know the denizens of Pine Valley and Llanview – what they’re like, what they’re likely to do and not do.  Inexplicable changes in character, too rapid an introduction of new characters and scenarios don’t go over well with long-time Susan Lucci starfans.  We want to see the full range of characters, those who’ve been around a long time as well as the new ones.  These are points of soap creation that used to be the guiding light, so to speak, for soap writers and producers. Sadly, they seem to have been forgotten in the past 20 years or so.

‘Monkey see, monkey do’ became the new mantra – if a plot works on one show, copy it whether it fits well or not.  If ratings drop, bring in somebody, anybody to make a splashy entrance, whether they fit in the ongoing stories or not.  Bring in a new headwriter or executive producer with a new ‘vision’, whether it fits this soap or not.  Such knee-jerk reaction to soaps creation hasn’t worked.  Soap fans did leave.  I know – I’m one.

Leaving the soaps

From the early 1980s until about 2 years ago, I watched the soaps.  Several of them, with General Hospital and The Young and the Restless being my mainstays.  I taped, I watched in real time – whatever worked.  Then I gradually stopped.  It wasn’t that I was gone or didn’t have time.  It was that I realized that I just wasn’t interested anymore.  I would watch at the kitchen table and play solitaire in the commercial breaks.  When I realized that I was no longer stopping my game when the show came back on, I knew there was a problem.

General Hospital was the first to go.  I just got tired of the mob stuff.  I loved The Sopranos, then airing on network prime-time, but I didn’t want to see The Sopranos on my soap.  Later I stopped watching Y&R, don’t know why really.  I guess it’s like falling out of love; once you start getting disenchanted, it’s hard to stop.

I haven’t replaced my soaps with cooking or health shows.  The tv is now just off during the day.  Until Coronation Street, the UK soap, comes on.  No sign of it being cancelled, 50 years after starting.  Why?  If I knew the answer to that, I hope I’d be getting the big bucks American daytime executives are.  But I’ve got some theories.  “Tune in next time for ‘as the soaps die’…”

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The Royal Wedding

I stayed up all night and watched the Royal wedding pre-pre-coverage, pre-coverage, main event, balcony scene and after coverage.  I switched between CBC and CBC NewsNet, CNN, an entertainment news show and went online to BBC.

Piers Morgan & Anderson Cooper at Buckingham Palace CNN bureauInterestingly, my husband and I stuck with CNN for the actual wedding.  Both of us usually choose CBC or CTV over any American channel for political, sports or ‘significant event’ coverage.  But Piers Morgan was great.  He, Anderson Cooper and their guests were informative and witty in their commentary.  Donald Trump did a good thing with Celebrity Apprentice in introducing Piers Morgan to US media.

The wedding was beautiful, the dress was fabulous, the singing of God Save the Queen brought tears to the eyes, the balcony kiss was sweet and funny.  I wish she’d ridden in the glass carriage to the Abbey, but it still was a total fairy tale wedding.  Just one observation about the music in the ceremony – the lovely choir piece that was composed as a wedding gift sounded to me very similar to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast theme song.

Royal Wedding Style

In the pre-coverage talk about the dress, there was a lot of emphasis on Kate’s sense of style.  I was thinking huh?  She’s got all the money in the Queen’s realm and all the Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice at royal weddingadvisors in the fashion industry and the palace to ensure that this dress is the epitome of elegance and high-style.  How could she not look absolutely fabulous?

And then I saw the Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice.  I saw you can have all the fashion mavens and money in the world and still look like you got dressed from a Salvation Army clothes bale.  I liked their shoes though.

In my fashion assessment of the event, I divided the family women into two categories. (Kate and her sister Pippa, both stunning, were in their own category.)  On the ‘regally elegant’ side were the Queen, Mrs. Middleton, Camilla and the Countess of Wessex.  On the ‘WTF?’ side were Eugenie, Beatrice and the Princess Royal.  Now, Anne I can accept – she generally always looks as if she grabbed whatever was clean and not wrinkled from her closet.  She’s never been an icon of fashion; she has other things she’d rather do.

But those girls!  I think that they’d like to be fashion plates, and they have the looks to do so.  If they’d take half the owl eye makeup off and not wear clothes that are jumbled and way too busy and not flattering to their faces or figures in any way.  And they sat right behind their Gran!  So you couldn’t even look at the Queen without being distracted by the costume party escapees behind her.

Best Wishes

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge balcony kissI wish the new Duke and Duchess the very best.  I don’t envy them though.  One commentator said something like ‘this marriage cannot fail.  There is no reason it can’t last:  they’ve lived together, she’s been part of his world long enough to understand her role, they’re both mature enough.  If it doesn’t last, the British monarchy will end with it.’  Gee, that’s not much pressure is it?