Sunday, April 19, 2009

A new twist to reality TV shows.

Ever since Survivor first aired dozens of “Reality TV” shows have sprung up using the same formula; Contestants are placed in to two teams and made to compete, the losing team has to vote off one of their members. The teams get narrowed down until they merge and start competing individually.

The drama in these shows comes in watching the group decide how to vote. It was a great concept when Survivor first did it but it has been repeated so many times that it is now just putting new faces into the same roles. All the “Reality TV” shows have tried to throw little twists into the game to add variety but none have tried to change the basic formula so the psychology remains the same, which is why these shows have gotten stale.

A new twist to these shows would be to add a forfeit vote. Any member could forfeit their vote at the cost of half their earnings. If every member on the team forfeits their vote no one gets sent home that week.

In the extreme example if there are 18 contestants divided into teams of 9 and one team totally dominated the other for the first 8 challenges before they merged and they all voted to forfeit each time, the winning team’s members would be competing for $1,000,000 and the losing team’s members would take home $7,875 if someone from that team won. If the first person voted off once they merged was from the winning team they would take home $2,000 but if they were from the losing team they’d make a whopping $15.62.

Of course it would never come to that, human nature wouldn’t allow 9 individuals to sacrifice a fortune in order to save someone they just met, but it would add a little spice in the otherwise boring middle section of the game.

When a team is down to four, it would be in everyone’s best interest to all forfeit the vote and still have numbers to compete for the $500,000. But if one sneaky bastard decided to vote off his biggest competitor on his team he would gain an advantage in cutting down the number of competitors he would be going up against in the individual rounds.

Throwing this curve in would really make the people who say, “I’m not here for the money just the experience” have a chance to show the world if they really mean it.

There would also be some great moments when everyone tells every one else that they will forfeit and no one does, and everyone votes individually showing people their true rankings in the team.

If a “Reality TV” show were to add this twist, it would throw in a whole new level to the stale formula for a couple of seasons, until it got stale as well.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Better off Ted

I don’t get a lot of the new “comedy” shows on TV. I’ve tried to sit through “The Office” and “30 Rock” and was left with the feeling of what the heck did I just watch. I could see the set up to jokes, I could see where the joke was supposed to be placed, but the “jokes” just seemed never to arrive.

So when “Better off Ted” came on after “Scrubs” I groaned, thinking it would be another humorless comedy.

Then I watched the set-up. A guy in charge of the research and development department at a huge corporation. I thought cool, that’s my idea of a dream job (Yes I’m a geek) all the benefits of being a mad scientist without having to do the hard work.

Then they introduced “the kid”. Kids in comedies are really a hit or miss thing. It is very easy for a kid’s performance to be technically perfect, but fall completely flat. The actress they got was spot on and delivered a great performance and was given just enough airtime to shine without getting annoying.

Then came the love triangle. Portia de Rossi was fantastic as the emotionless boss. She played the unsocial and unapproachable woman so well it comes off sexy as hell. That’s not an easy thing to do.

Andrea Anders does a good job as the quirky Linda. It’s a tough role being quirky without being all out insane, right now I think she (and the writers) are playing it a little too safe and not letting the character really let loose, but if the network lets the show continue I’m sure they can have a great deal of fun with her character and Anders does show the potential to run with it.

The researchers Lem and Phil have great chemistry right off the bat, you really get the feeling that these two have worked together so long that they have that weird non-gay long-term relationship that develops between people who have to spend years together.

Altogether I love this new show, I haven’t wanted a comedy show to succeed this much since I first saw “Scrubs”.

Unfortunately, my batting average for comedies is pretty bad. Almost every new show that I like gets canceled immediately. Hopefully this will change once ABC sees that “Better off Ted” has the full support of the vast “Project Savior” blog network behind it.

“Better off Ted” airs Wed 8:30 EST on ABC.

Monday, April 6, 2009

24 Day 8. A look at what’s in store for Jack Bauer next season.

Spoiler Alert

Since 2001 the writers of Fox’s 24 have been giving us bigger and more elaborate conspiracies that Jack needs to stop within one day; Season 8 will be no exception.

In season 8 Jack must deal with eco-terrorists who have taken over the Federal Reserve with the help rogue penguins disguised as NBA players. The penguins demand that all man-made CO2 emissions must end or they will convert the economy from being based on the US Dollar to being based on pilot fish.

President Allison Taylor is told by her cabinet that if she doesn’t take strong action she could lose the election to her rival, the war-hawk Governor Saddam Hitler Bush. She reluctantly decides that if the penguins can’t be defeated she will launch a nuclear strike against Antarctica, even though the resulting melt off will flood most coastal cities.

Meanwhile Jack has learned that the Chinese government secretly revived both his ex-wife and former co-worker Nina, they performed a brain swap and put Nina’s brain into Jack’s ex-wife’s body. Nina then became Audrey Raines’ nurse and is holding her hostage.

Jack manages to free Audrey and stop the rogue penguins with the help of Former President Abraham Lincoln who survived the John Wilkes Booth’s assassination attempt and has been secretly working for the CIA as an undercover agent posing as a Japanese Businessman.

Only after he foils these two plots does Jack find out that this was all a diversion to keep government agents from stopping the evil plot by the Atheist-Gay alliance to allow everyone to have Civil Unions.

Jack must fight against that in the second episode.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Star Trek XI: My prediction on its suck factor.

In case you haven’t noticed by my other posts, I’m a huge Star Trek Fan. I’ve got all the series except the original on DVD, and until recently all the movies except, of course, The Motion Picture and V.

I’ve noticed a pattern in which movies suck and which don’t.

The more I want to see one the worse it is, the ones I think will suck turn out great.

I was in high school when The Motion Picture came out, I was waiting for it, I spent my hard earned money on any magazine that mentioned it. I became super trekie in the months before its release.

I don’t think I need to say how bad that turd was, but I will anyway.

It was so bad I refused to watch Wrath of Khan. I switched the channel when it was on HBO and it wasn’t until it was on regular TV that I watched it. I thought it was awesome and kicked myself for not seeing it in the theater.

Search for Spock came out and I rented it, I didn’t have high hopes for it but I wasn’t expecting a turd and that’s exactly what I got. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t a turd. (That’s one hell of a marketing slogan.)

I didn’t rent “The Voyage Home” because I knew it was the wrap up of the last two and I hate wrap up movies. My Father in Law knew I was a Star Trek fan and recorded it for me. I thought it was the funniest and the quirkiest of the series.

I was really looking forward to “The Final Frontier” a new beginning for the series and bigger budget than the shoestring the last 3 had. It ended up sucking the sweat off a dead donkey.

“The Final Frontier” was so bad I avoided the “Undiscovered Country”. When I rented it later it rocked.

After the horrible last season of TNG and the even number curse I dreaded seeing “Generations” but it gave me an excuse to take my wife out to dinner and a movie. I figured if it sucked we could fool around like we used to. They crashed the Enterprise-D, Malcolm McDowell was over the top and Brett Spiner didn’t sing. I loved it.

I knew in “First Contact” they traveled back in time, I personally have never liked it when TNG traveled back in time, TOS handled it well and later Voyager did a great job but I never liked TNG’s time travel shows. So I wasn’t too enthusiastic about it.

I loved it.

With “Insurrection” I thought, the TNG was hitting on all cylinders and a title like Insurrection implies oh, I don’t know, maybe an Insurrection. I was expecting a huge inter-federation war maybe even the Enterprise-E on one side and Wolf commanding the Defiant on the other.

Instead I got guys in bad make-up with mommy issues.

For “Nemesis” I put “Insurrection” out of my mind and went to see Picard vs The Romulans. Instead I got too many Brett Spiners singing and a Picard clone that didn’t look like Picard and was 6” shorter.

When I saw the trailers for “Star Trek” they looked cool and I started to think that it could be a really great new take on the series. Then I remembered that every time I thought a Star Trek movie would be great it sucked. So now I don’t want to see it because I know it will suck, but every time I think a Star Trek movie will suck it turns out great. So now I really want to see it. But every time I think…you get the point.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Beowulf: Old English Bait and Switch

I saw the ads on TV and the badly lit pictures on the box advertising Beowulf, and I assumed what most people did, that it would feature Angelina Jolie as the villain that would prepare for battling the English countryside by doing naked jumping-jacks then jump on her hang-glider, still naked, and kill all the males in the town and then mud-wrestle the town’s women into submission.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

First off Beowulf wasn’t a movie, it was a damn cartoon. The animators spent long hours making sure they got all the actors cheekbones, noses and eyebrows perfect then gave them blank unmoving eyes. The result looked like the cast was channeling Jessica Alba’s “acting” style.

Second, the body they used was Rachel Bernstein’s. She’s got a fine body and if a movie advertised that she would be nude in it I would be fine watching it, but Beowulf went out of its way to imply Angelina Joie would be the naked main character.

Why they went through a got a body double at all in a mystery as the animation of the body was so poor it could have been anyone’s body on screen making me feel double icky watching the scenes with Jolie’s character as it could be a drawing of a sexy babe like Angelina or Rachel, or it could be a drawing of a ken doll with man-boobs there was no way of telling.

Approximation of the animated Jolie/Bernstein

Finally, in order to make room for the Special Effects (Special like some Education classes) they hacked away at the original story and got rid of a few things, most notably why we should give a crap about what happens to Beowulf. Instead of a tortured hero they wrote him as an arrogant, selfish, bastard that was worse than the monster the village hired him to protect them against.

If you must watch this cartoon make sure you get the Rifftrack to go along with it. It is totally unwatchable without it.