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February 20, 2008

Quick thought regarding the silly 24 hour iTunes rental limit

So we all know that the 24 hour limit sucks. That (along with the fact that you can only get HD content if you have an Apple TV, what could otherwise be the killer feature for me) certainly prevents me from me from even considering it as an option beyond something to keep in the back of my head for last resort instant gratification.

Netflix, by contrast is of course quite happy to let you keep DVDs for as long as you like. As a subscription outfit, they just make more and more money off of you. But plenty of people would certainly prefer to pay per rental and herein lies the problem as renting on a long enough time frame becomes indistinguishable from buying.

The solution: Instead of putting an arbitrary cutoff time after hitting play, there should be a virtual check back in. You'd a allowed to have, say, 10 movies checked out at a time, paying for the rental when you download them and keeping them as long as you like, but you wouldn't be allowed to download the 11th until you "check in" one of the 10, rendering it unplayable. Certainly this would introduce some more security holes and would set an upper limit on how many movies you could take with you on a trip if you don't want to access the internet from the road, but it would prevent wholesale abuse. On the whole I think it would work much better for most people.

September 3, 2007

Who needs the networks?

In the wake of the current spat between NBC and Apple over the price and DRM applied to TV content sold on iTunes, many people have been considering the status quo of TV distribution and pricing. Fake Steve, through his usual hyperbole probably comes closest to the truth by asking, essentially, why we need the networks at all. Don't they exist simply to agrigate content produced by production companies in order to pipe it over the airwaves to consumers? Why should we need them at all when the content producers could sell directly through iTunes or any other internet distributer? What are they there for other than to take a cut of the profits?

Leaving aside the fact that--for now--vastly more people watch plain old, live, non-time-shifted network TV than any kind of content on the internet, you could come up with a few reasons for networks to keep on existing:

Continue reading “Who needs the networks?” »

August 30, 2007

Note to the TV reviewer on the radio:

Umm... When you use the phrases "in the tradition of Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "in the style of Kevin Smith with borderline potty-mouth humor" to support each other, you make me think you may not have actually watched Buffy.

Nothing against Kevin Smith, by the way. We do love. But come on.

(And yes, Buffy had it's share of the silly as well as it's share of the potty, but that was so no the point.)

March 20, 2007

From Sasha Kopf:

Watching "The Daily Show"


March 18, 2007

From Sasha Kopf:

Watching Battlestar Galactica


We are not dealing.

October 21, 2006

Random Studio 60 Thought...

Man, that time-to-show countdown clock must be a real pain to film with. I mean every take where they hit it or might hit it, they're going to have to make sure to start it from the right time so they don't have continuity errors. And forget it if you decide to cut things into a different order... That must be some prop guy or editor's weekly headache.

October 19, 2006

Speaking of TV: Oh please, please, don't abandon the scripted drama!

So I go and praise TV and immediately I hear on NPR a story about how NBC is failing and considering cutting scripted dramas. How sick is it that 8 million viewers (the number that Studio 60 got this week) might not be enough to keep the show on the air? You'd think that 8 million people plus critical acclaim would count for enough to keep trying for a while...

Continue reading “Speaking of TV: Oh please, please, don't abandon the scripted drama!” »

October 18, 2006

Fun and Not Fun Entertainment

I just ran across a post at the blog Mighty Girl complaining about something that I've been thinking about for a while in one form or another: the problem of making movies that that are both smart and fun. In the post she wonders whether it is a trend that we are getting more and more movies that are either pure--through and through--depressing, or light to the point of brain dead.

While I don't see enough movies anymore to know for sure, I think she's at least right that balanced movies are few and far between. The funny thing is that I think in recent years television, which used to be filled with the polar opposites of dour documentary and brainless fluff, has stepped in to fill some of that void. And no, I don't mean the increase in entertainment masquerading as news. The hour long drama has really blossomed in the last decade. Sure there's a lot of crap on TV, but there's also a lot more good stuff than there used to be, and good in smart ways that where almost unheard of before the mid 90s.

In part this may be in reaction to the blight that is cheep reality TV. If you can be so easily replaced by something that costs a tenth of what you do, I guess you have to work hard to be as good as you can and to capture an audience that is never going to watch whatever cheap replacement they come up with. Movies may be trying to do a similar thing, but I think it's just much harder to do it in a two hour format. A TV series can conduct its mood up and down over time, but a movie has to do it all in the space of what would be about three--maybe four--episodes if it was serialized. It's probably easier just to cut out one side or the other.

October 10, 2006

God bless Christopher Columbus, Netflix, and the legions of postal workers who deliver our mail!

Since reading, this morning, the dreadful words "For Wed: Alias: Season 1: Disc 6" in the subject line of the friendly email Netflix sent me on Monday--and simultaneously realizing why it was that I didn't get any mail yesterday--I had been planning on writing a very snarky little post today when I got home. It was going to be filled with bile. Don't they understand that my sanity rests on seeing the last three episodes of the first season of Alias as soon as humanly possible? Don't they get how cruel it is to marathon the first season of a show that you'd always heard was good, realize that it really is good, and have to stop before the last disc? To wait patiently all weekend, knowing that the disc would arrive on Tuesday. To then watch everything you had stored up on the TiVo while you were busy being caught up in the marathon. Only then to realize that some half forgotten pseudo-holiday shut down the post office making you wait one whole extra day?

Well, apparently they did realize because when I got home tonight, I found nestled (Ok, shoved in sideways, crushed and bent) in my mailbox a nice little red envelope from Netflix with my next fix waiting inside. So Christopher Columbus, you get a reprieve. Your holiday is a very fine day, and while I didn't get the day off, I'm very happy for any postal workers who did. And for those of you who may not have gotten the day off, just so I could get my mail on time, your sacrifice is appreciated.

October 7, 2006


That's what Sasha and I have taken to calling Battlestar Galactica. It started as a (partly) joking reference to what we thought the appropriate response to seeing Number 6 appear on screen should be. Well, I finished watching the season 3 premiere about an hour ago, and I think my hands are still shaking! I mean, there's riveting TV and then there's riveting TV! I've never been so disturbed and so pleased all at once. I don't think I've ever seen a show so nimbly knock everything over on its head while staying completely true to itself at the same time. I really don't know what's up for grabs now or where they're going to take things.

It's shaping up to be a really good fall season this year...

October 3, 2006

Lest you think I only watch Studio 60...

My thoughts one minute into watching the premiere of Season 3 of Veronica Mars:

"Hey, wait, I know this one, the criminology professor is actually an evil government scientist who will be skewered by his Frankenstein's Monster-like creation..." No, wait, that was my other favorite tiny-blond-girl-who-kicks-ass's first year of college.

Why I love Studio 60

Well, aside from the fact that every actor on the show--top to bottom--is incredible, and that Aaron Sorkin has earned every little bit of benefit of the doubt... just when I was thinking while watching this Monday's episode just now: "Oh, ok, that's a little too perfect..." Danny and Matt say to each other something to the effect that hey, you know there's only one way that this story can go from here.

I've long thought that finding the exact appropriate level of self awareness is the key to good TV, and that was exhibit A.

September 18, 2006


Yes, that is the sound--the only sound I can make in fact--of me watching the pilot of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Words cannot express how excited I am. Aaron Sorkin is back on TV! And he brought really, really good friends!

More reactions later. I'm too excited right now. eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

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