Tag Archives | Television

Sharknado: Return of the B-Movie

Sharknado_posterB-movies are back with a vengeance, thanks to social media sensation Sharknado, reports the Guardian:

Sharknado, pundemic on Twitter, has restored the B-movie back to its rightful place in American life: cult summer blockbuster and universal inside joke. To join in you don’t need a TV or even to have seen the movie. You only must appreciate absurdity (and tolerate portmanteaus).

In case the title left anything to doubt, a quick summary of the film: a tornado spews sharks into Los Angeles. One lands in Tara Reid’s pool, another bounces off a barstool. Helicopters throw bombs at the weather. A character named ‘Fin’, played by a Chippendales dancer, leaps into the open jaws of a projectile Great White and chainsaws his way out of its rubber belly, screaming. The tagline reads: “Enough said”.

SyFy only pulled 1.4 million viewers – below average for their original movies and over 6 million fewer than watched The Big Bang Theory on CBS that night, yet as Vulture put it, “Sharknado won the Internet Thursday”, with over 5,000 tweets a minute at the height of the online frenzy.

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For The Canine Crowd: DogTV

There is a cable television network for seemingly every human interest, from motocross to knitting, so how about expanding the choices to include animal interests too? Variety reports that DogTV is coming to DirecTV:

Release the hounds: DogTV — touted as the first TV network aimed at man’s best friend — is a real 24-hour channel that will be unleashed on DirecTV starting Aug. 1.

For the first two weeks of August, DogTV will be available for free to any DirecTV subscriber. Pooch owners who register to subscribe before Aug. 10 will receive 30 days free through mid-September, after which the channel will be $4.99 per month. In addition, those signing up for the early-dog special will receive a PetHub dog ID tag and $10 coupon codes for PetBest.com and Dog Is Good.

According to PTV Media, the company behind DogTV, it spent more than four years developing and testing a 24-hour TV channel aimed at pups of all breeds…

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Why Fox News is Less to Blame for Polarized Politics than You Think

via Media Channel Fox News

American pundits spend a good deal of their time pondering partisan intensity, and how it has sharply increased over the years. At some point in such discussions, it is traditional to note that the sorting of America into ever-more flinty conservatives and ever-more liberal progressives has coincided with the rise of cable television and the internet. The problem, it is asserted, is that too many Americans consume their news from inside an echo chamber that reflects their existing prejudices. Oh, for the time when the nation settled down around the TV to watch the network news from Walter Cronkite and his peers, who delivered a broadly centrist diet of news from home and abroad in a tone of take-your-medicine seriousness.

Some of that hand-wringing is to the point. Attend Republican or Democratic campaign rallies, and you certainly hear the same talking points from many activists there, and many of those soundbites and factoids come from cable, talk radio and the same handful of partisan blogs.

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Bloodthirsty ‘Factual’ TV Shows Demonize Wildlife

729px-Just_one_lionAdam Welz writes at the Guardian:

If you’re North American or get US-produced satellite TV, you’ve probably learned a lot about wildlife from outlets like the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and History. You might trust these channels because you’ve seen educational, factually accurate shows on them, unlike the ‘trashy’ material that dominates free-to-air network TV.

But not everything on on these ‘factual’ channels might be as ethical or even as accurate as you might think, and the implications for conservation could be profound.

I recently spent a few entertaining hours watching episodes of Discovery’s Yukon Men, a hit ‘reality’ series about the residents of the small town of Tanana in central Alaska. Launched in August last year, it’s consistently gained over two million US viewers in its Friday night slot, been syndicated overseas, and helped the channel win some of its biggest audiences ever.

The first episode brings us to midwinter Tanana, which a theatrical, husky male voiceover tells us is “one of America’s most remote outposts” where “every day is a struggle to survive”.

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Is the Portrayal of Torture on TV Changing?

24-TV-Series-LogoAlyssa Rosenberg writes at ThinkProgress:

When Fox announced that it was bringing back 24, its serialized drama about counterterrorist federal agent Jack Bauer that finished its initial run in 2010, as a limited-episode special event in 2014, much of the commentary about the news focused on questions of structure, rather than content. Time Magazine television critic James Poniewozik argued that 24′s resurrection was part of an exciting move by Fox to make more limited series and more special events, a strategy that includes a shorter run for its serial killer hit The Following, a move that both was meant to accomodate star Kevin Bacon’s schedule and to ape the success of dark cable dramas with shorter runs, and an order of limited-run series Wayward Pines. Others saw it as part of Fox’s decision to walk away from a focus on female-focused comedies and return to an old, reliable—and male-centered—hit from its past.

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Does Making Films Help Make Change?

President Obama on The Daily Show closeThere has been a major shift in media culture as most TV networks have abandoned long-form information programming. In these times, with Twitter playing a big part in disseminating news, TV has to be punchy, quick and visual. The age of media mergers has seen showbiz merging with news biz, and soundbites have become shorter as the newscast story count rises.

Significantly, the best TV criticism of these trends in the US appears in a nightly program on the Comedy Central channel. But ultimately, there is nothing funny about the way a media system – intended to bolster a democratic discourse – contributes to its decline.

News is increasingly becoming more about the image than the information – an approach to “coverage” that is at its core tabloid in its sensibilities, often intended for a memorable emotional impact that will boost media ratings and revenues. The race for “breaking news” is breaking our ability to understand the context of events.… Read the rest

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Reality TV Show Planned Focusing On Children Who Recall Their Past Lives

My spin on this would be a Maury Povich-style “my bad kid” episode focusing on children who are the reincarnations of Nazi officers, bloodthirsty cannibals, et cetera. Via the Huffington Post:

A Los Angeles production company is currently holding a nationwide casting call for children who claim to have, or have had, past life memories for a new reality series, “Ghost Inside My Child,” scheduled to air on the Bio Channel later this year.

A pilot episode of the series aired a few months ago, with three kids who had gone through various steps of recovering memories of their alleged past lives.

One case from the first show concerns James Leininger. At the age of two, Leininger reportedly started having terrifying nightmares of his death. Ultimately, the family came to believe that he was the reincarnation of James Huston, a fighter pilot who died in World War II at Iwo Jima.

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Christians Who Are More Jewish Than Jews

Cast of "The Sisterhood" (TLC)

In a New York Times article entitled “Oy Vey, Christian Soldiers,” Maud Newton describes the seemingly bizarre trend among certain Christians to give their kids Bar Mitzvahs and otherwise adopt Jewish religious practices:

Of all the surprises promised by the recent TLC reality show “The Sisterhood,” which followed the lives of five Atlanta preachers’ wives, the only one that truly amazed me was the Christian bar mitzvah, an event organized by Pastor Tara Lewis and her husband, Pastor Brian, for their son, Trevor. Brian was born to Jewish parents; Tara was not. Both are born-again Christians, and they’re of one mind about their son’s bar mitzvah as a Christ-centered take on the traditional Jewish coming-of-age ceremony.

In one episode of “The Sisterhood,” Brian and Tara plan the theme of the bar mitzvah cake. “How about Christ in the Torah?” Brian asks. “Amen,” Tara answers.

Their Jesus-fied version of the Jewish ritual is intended to celebrate both Trevor’s ethnic heritage through his father and, even more important, his spiritual identity through salvation.

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