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    Lucky Number Slevin


    2012 - 04.14

    Saw this movie was on Showcase a little while back and taped* it, I’d seen it before and quite liked it.  I’m even going to go so far as to classify it as a favourite, which is interesting since it’s one of the few favourites which I don’t own in any form.

    If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth watching.  Stylish thriller with strong comedic elements, nice twists and turns and good dialog.

    * “Taping” a show, I suppose perhaps I’m dating myself now, what do the kids call it these days, do they use the technically correct and technology neutral “recorded”, or do they actually say “PVR’d”?  It won’t be much longer before kids won’t know what a VCR was and that for most of 30 years people used magnetic tape for watching movies or recording television…

    Do they even watch their own shows?


    2012 - 03.05

    One of the recent TV additions which Karin quite likes is Alcatraz, which is fitting since we were both fans of J.J. Abrams first major TV success: Alias (with Jennifer Garner).  Last week Fox which airs the show pre-empted the show because of a very much rain delayed Daytona 500.

    On some level I can understand that, it’s a famous race… and it was supposed to have run on the weekend but was delayed due to weather.  Still it comes as a surprise to people who care nothing at all about the race that the show they thought they were going to have on their PVR was something completely different, and there wasn’t even a courtesy explanation when the regularly scheduled programming would have aired to tell us what was going on or why.

    In the case of Alcatraz, it was supposed to be Episode 8 which aired.  This week they aired (as originally scheduled) a “2 hour event” which was actually Episodes 9 and 10.  So I don’t know when they will air Episode 8.  It’s hard to know at this point (not having seen Episodes 8-10 yet) whether there will be a major continuity issue because of it.  But really who makes these decisions?  Do they actually watch the shows they air?  It doesn’t seem like it.

    Sometimes it feels like TV scheduling is being legislated… who knew that so many locals moonlight as TV executives…

    This is further emphasized with things like weather warnings with annoying audio which are broadcast out of region.  I don’t know if I’d be interested in them if I actually lived in Detroit or Chicago, but I’m definitely not interested in them since I don’t.  Not only that, but they put them in intrusive locations on the screen and interfere with the programming.  They really should work on the technology (which I can only hope somehow doesn’t exist, rather than that they are choosing not to use it) which allows them to remove these things regionally.  Further, they should make it so that the information is not captured by my PVR, I really don’t need a storm warning from thousands of kilometers away and months old interfering with my watching a show.  But I guess for the executives it’s not about the quality of the watching experience… because if they believe it is, they are doing a terrible job.

    It’s not just the weather warnings though, it’s the station promos and other show promos which pop-up and cover significant portions of the screen.  I understand why they do that, and to some degree they are effective, I can’t help but notice them.  But they clearly either do not actually watch the shows, or they don’t care.  Entirely too often do I see a promo overlayed and covering show credits or show content, or the worst: subtitles.  It just really goes to show that they aren’t paying attention.

    There was a time when the live TV experience was the best, but when they continue to add these “features” which realistically are only features in their minds, they continue to degrade the experience, and drive their audience crazy.  So many of these new “innovations” are realistically the equivalent of someone taking a phone call during a movie… very disrespectful and detrimental to your enjoyment.

    So a little advice to the TV executives out there, actually watch the shows from time to time, in the broadcast format, and imagine yourself as someone who actually wants to watch the show… and see how you feel.

    Strike Back


    2011 - 08.30

    Keeping with the TV Theme for the week, we’ve been watching Strike Back on HBO Canada, which is a UK/USA co-production, it should not be confused with Strike Back a purely UK production which aired earlier this year on Showcase.  Or perhaps it should be confused with it, as the latter was a 6-episode series based on a book by Chris Ryan, while the former is a 10-episode series which is a sequel to the first.  The confusion exists because none of that is explained during the show or advertising.

    Regardless of the pedigree or confusion (assuming one was even previously aware of the multiple series) so far it’s been an enjoyable and “fun” show.  It reminds me a little of 24 and CTU, although Jack Bauer never really had a partner in the field like they do in this series.  Also, not being constrained by the real-time story telling there is able to be more action during a given episode.

    So yet another HBO show we’re watching.  Added to the list: True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones.  If they keep this up, soon there will be enough of them to keep us going year round.

    Showcase Review


    2011 - 08.28

    Yesterday I was talking about all the new fall shows on Showcase, many of which we watch and enjoy, but I remember when Showcase was one of those fringe channels that aired weird and risky stuff.  I suppose they do still at times air risky stuff, but there’s a big difference between Kenny vs. Spenny and Venus in Furs.

    Anyway, just wondering what really happened to the Showcase Review hosted by Chas Lawther (YouTube clip), and whether there’s any chance that it will come back, or perhaps have something similar picked up by another channel (Bravo would seem the most likely).  To be honest I don’t know how many years it’s been since it’s been gone, but it would be really interesting to see some of the movies they showed in HD, and in truth a list of the movies which were broadcast as part of the Showcase Review would be really interesting, if anyone has access to such a thing.

    Showcase: Heads up TV season starts Tuesday


    2011 - 08.27

    Looks like Showcase is getting a jump on the competition, and Shaw really does seem to be trying to turn Showcase into a big player.  Here’s some highlights of things which will be happening over the next could of weeks:

    1. Burn Notice (Season 3) starts Tuesday August 30th (10pm)
    2. Royal Pains (Season 2) starts Wednesday August 31st (10pm)
    3. Warehouse 13 (Season 3) starts Thursday September 1st (10pm)
    4. Lost Girl (Season 2) starts Sunday September 4th (9pm)
    5. Covert Affairs (Season 2) starts Sunday September 4th (10pm)

    They are already airing Haven (Season 2), so they’ve got a lot of stuff going on.  Important things to note, if you’re watching in HD on Shaw at least, those 10pm times above are a lie, as there is no western ShowcaseHD, so all those shows air at 7pm, and Lost Girl airs at 6pm on Sundays.  The shows during the week actually air at 7pm and 9pm (10pm and midnight eastern).  If you’re not watching in HD then then times are correct in their ads, etc…

    If you’re paying attention you’ll notice that it’s Royal Pains season 2, even though Showcase didn’t air season 1 (I think Global did last year), it’s Warehouse 13 season 3 even though other seasons aired on Space or CityTV, so it might be weird to join mid-series if you haven’t otherwise been watching.  Both shows air on US networks which don’t have a Canadian equivalent or broadcast partner.

    The others are continuations of series which have aired previously on Showcase.

    One really cool thing worth mentioning is that Lost Girl will have 22 episodes in it’s second season, which is way above the typical specialty channel order of at most 13.

    So if you don’t still have series recordings set up, now is the time to get on that, and BREAK!*

    * “and BREAK!” is a reference to the film Fired Up! definitely not one of the world’s best movies, but funny and if you’ve seen it you’ll know how hard it is to not use that phrase after watching the movie.

    Endgame: Disc Sports


    2011 - 05.18

    Endgame, which we’ve talked about here a few times before as being good and chess themed as well as being shot in Vancouver has another claim to fame: in the same season it both references Ultimate Frisbee (and shows a disc) and Frisbee Golf (latest episode). Anyway, thought it was worth acknowledging. If you’re not already watching it, you should check it out.

    Endgame


    2011 - 03.20

    A new Canadian series (Endgame) on Showcase about a Chess Master who solves crimes without leaving his hotel.  The first episode was interesting, and we’ll have to see if they can continue to build on it to make it compelling.  It’s an interesting combination of Nero Wolfe and Monk.  One of the most interesting things about it though is that it is both filmed and set in Vancouver.  We get a lot of productions made here, but very few of them are actually supposed to be here.  The key difference is those sweeping exterior shots which you see are actually of Vancouver, and not San Fransisco or New York or somewhere else.  It’s worth tuning in just to see some of those shots.

    Say What?!?!???!


    2011 - 01.12

    So last night we tried to watch the episode of Burn Notice that we taped on Showcase HD (Shaw 234). It’s really too bad that there’s a lot of shows we like on that channel, because aside from the content there’s a lot of reasons to hate it.

    This particular time there was no dialogue audio track for the first 15 minutes of the episode, there was full music and sound effects but no speech, it was pretty weird, and amusing.  Ultimately however it was unwatchable, so here’s hoping that they get their act together when they re-air it on Sunday.

    So what are these other reasons to hate Showcase HD you ask?  Well, they often don’t have episode information included in the Shaw Guide, instead it’s a generic show description, which means two things: you can’t determine if you’ve already seen the episode or if it’s new, and secondly the PVR’s series recordings can’t tell either.  This seems not to be a problem with Burn Notice at the moment, although historically it had been.  Current, or recent shows with that problem: Haven, Sherlock, Wallander, Lost Girl, Strike Back, Luther and Covert Affairs.  Other things which are annoying:

    • all times in promos are in eastern time, and Showcase HD does not have a pacific time equivalent, so everything airs 3 hours earlier (which sometimes is nice, but it’s annoying that they fail to ever acknowledge this)
    • they have started doing in show commercials, where something pops up at the bottom of the screen and takes about half of it in width, and a quarter in height, and displays a promo for another one of their shows.  They are large, distracting, opaque, and now they even include sound!  Hello, I’m trying to watch and listen to the show I’m watching, and you’ve covering credits, subtitles, information and dialogue with these promos?!?!?!?  It makes you want to just buy the DVD instead.