South Park Season 15, Part 2 Begins October 5th… Are You Ready?

With the fall fast approaching, many popular shows will soon be airing new episodes, prompting people to update their DIRECTV and cable packages and prepare for viewing. With this in mind, it is time to talk about what will surely be one of the most anticipated premieres of the coming season: the first episode in the second half of South Park’s 15th season.

For those who are less familiar with South Park, it is the often offensive and always clever animated comedy from Matt Stone and Trey Parker that has captured the allegiance and, in a strange way, hearts of thousands upon thousands of fans for many years now. South Park fans are used to crude jokes, witty satire relating to real life events, and general shenanigans from their favorite characters… this is why, when the first half of season 15 ended in the Spring with a sentimental and downright depressing episode entitled “You’re Getting Old,” many of the show’s fans were shocked and worried.

Lately, as tends to happen when a show has been running as long as South Park, some people have been beginning to question if the show is getting stale, and if maybe it is time to stop. There has also been speculation that Matt and Trey (creators of the smash Broadway hit “The Book Of Mormon”) may want to move on and try new things. Then, in the episode “You’re Getting Old,” it seemed that we were witnessing Matt and Trey tearing down the very fabrics of their own show.

Filled with break-ups (both of friendships and marriages that lie at the core of the show) and suggestive dialogue saying that “every week is just something more and more ridiculous,” the episode seemed like some sort of plea coming from the fun-loving, never-serious creators. It was as if they were saying that all of South Park, and all of its followers, have to grow up at some point, and that it would be best to move on before things stop being fun. Shockingly, this episode of South Park – unlike so many of its predecessors that had fans reeling with laughter – actually brought tears to the eyes of many fans.

Following the episode, everything from Facebook to blog comment sections exploded with speculation. Were Matt and Trey done? Did they cut the 15th season short with an unexpected finale? Can they even do more if they want to after the damage this episode caused to the show’s dynamics? Or, like every episode in which Kenny dies, will it simply be forgotten as if nothing ever happened? Fortunately for South Park fans, Matt and Trey seemed, if anything, bewildered when asked about the episode on The Daily Show. They gave every indication that South Park remains their main project and passion, and that the show will go on. We’ll just have to wait and see how they do it.

New episodes of South Park air on October 5th at 10:00 p.m.  Watch or Cartman will find you.

Gizmodo: Apple Could Kill The Cable Television Industry, The ‘Tastic: Uh… No

I just felt it was necessary to give a little commentary about a piece from yesterday on Gizmodo citing a piece on The Wall Street Journal regarding rumor and speculation about Apple’s plans following the resignation of Steve Jobs and the ascension of Tim Cook.  The plans specifically are regarding Apple’s next step into the Internet Video arena and the piece in the journal cites anonymous sources as suggesting that Apple is trying to “kill” the cable television industry.  Keep in mind that I posted a similar, albeit abbreviated version of these comments directly on Gizmodo, and surprise, surprise… they didn’t approve my comments.

From Gizmodo:

“Here’s something mysterious: amid the WSJ’s report on Tim Cook’s ascension, they say Apple’s “working on new technology to deliver video to televisions, and has been discussing whether to try to launch a subscription TV service.” That could be huge.”

Of course, everyone at WSJ that writes about tech is a complete hack which is proven every time they publish something (If you want tech news, stick to tech news sources, folks) which means that it’s up to Gizmodo to cite them and give them validity by not only running with the premise that Apple wants to kill cable television, but to actually suggest that it’s possible.  Now personally, I can’t confirm what the WSJ‘s Yukari Iwatani and Jessica Vascellero had to say beyond  the first three sentences because I don’t pay anyone for Internet news, sorry. So, even though Gizmodo is completely wrong with their analysis in general, I’m going to have to take for granted that what Sam Biddle (author of the Gizmodo piece) is reporting about the WSJ piece is spot-on simply because it makes perfect sense that the WSJ would support such tripe as legitimate.

My response to both Mr. Biddle and the WSJ:  Not gonna happen, nor does Apple want it to happen.

From Gizmodo:

Ergo, Apple TV. Ergo, iCloud. New ways to take video content and stick them where you want—completely bypassing your cable box (and company renting it to you)…

What this could mean is an offensive against the cable industry akin to Apple’s complete conquest over the music industry. A “subscription TV service,” given successful licensing wrangling (a herculean task, we admit) could give us what we want from traditional cable TV: the stations we want, and only those stations. Imagine your Apple TV completely replacing your cable box—scroll through a list of networks, select the ones you want, and pay for them monthly. Their programming available on demand. Their live broadcasts, streamed. True internet TV. All the convenience of a DVR, all the vastness of a regular cable box, and all the sophisticated pleasure of an Apple TV.

It’s a logical next step, and could kill cable—and who needs to fix what can be killed? But at the very least, it’ll put some much needed and long overdue pressure on the dinosaur cable companies to actually do something. Anything. Apple as a legitimate competitor, even without a full hand of licensing deals, could be the oomph needed for serious cable reform. And that would almost be just as good.

Let me preface this by saying that I have nothing against the industry in general, partly because I have had professional experience working with them (in telecom… I’ve also worked with DirecTV and have had generally positive experiences) and partly because as a consumer and a professional, I’ve been in cities with good cable companies and bad cable companies. I’ve had nothing but bad experiences with Time Warner Cable as a consumer in Rochester and Syracuse, NY and nothing but bad experiences with them on the industry side in Texas.  So yeah, I get why people hate TWC.  On the other hand, I have had nothing but good experiences with Cox Communications professionally and as a consumer here in Las Vegas.

Mr. Biddle lives in Brooklyn, NY.  His choices are Cablevision or TWC.  DUDE… I get it! That’s enough to make you want to move but it doesn’t mean that consumer experiences with cable providers nationwide are universal nor does it mean that an unscientific sampling and analysis of 1,000+ people (as noted in The Cable Customer’s Bill of Rights, a piece that Biddle cites) who responded to one of your surveys regarding cable television “horror stories” is indicative of anything substanitive (and of course, they made up that number because they simply don’t have the staff to read that many “horror stories.”)

The main issue that folks like Mr. Biddle and his other fellow cable provider haters over at Gizmodo (like Mat Honen, author of The Cable Customer’s Bill of Rights) always want to harp on as to one of the ways the consumer is being so “abused” by the evil cable television industry is the complaint about not being able to choose channels individually.  Well, this notion of à la carte channels, while seeming great on paper, would be absolutely disastrous for the consumer and simply suggesting the notion shows how ignorant on the subject of the cable television, network media and television industries the folks at Gizmodo are.  I don’t fault the average consumer for not understanding the complexities of the industry, but I simply have no patience for semi-respected, professional tech blogs who spout-off on a subject of which they have no particular insight into professionally nor have they done any research into academically.  Journalistic legitimacy requires more than citing one piece from the WSJ and tossing about a bunch of wild-eyed theories based on wishful thinking and a Utopian vision with no context.

Let’s be clear: à la carte is never going to happen and for damned good reason; the cost to the consumer would be outrageous.

MAKE! IT! STOP!

Consumers (and apparently tech bloggers) don’t understand how this works.  All of the networks are owned by a handful of conglomerates and network/media “superpowers,” as it were. They don’t sell the rights to the networks on an individual basis. They are sold as bulk packages in order to keep the prices as low as possible because it guarantees them the most exposure for all of their networks, ergo, all of their advertisers. The fact is that when it comes to a cable television lineup, the cable provider is generally at the mercy of the networks. With the licensing for these packages, the cable companies are REQUIRED under the terms of their contracts to provide all of these channels to everyone or NONE of these channels to anyone. The only breaking up that’s allowed is for tiered pricing packages (basic, standard, digital packages and of course with the à la carte premiums). The only way cable companies would be able to get à la carte for the consumer is by paying an exorbitant amount for each individual network to offset what the parent media companies would lose by not having total exposure on cable.

And who would these exorbitant costs paid by the cable providers for this utopian dream of à la carte channels be passed on to? Of course… the consumer! Get ready for sky-high prices like you’ve never seen and an elimination of probably 75% of the channels.   Sorry, but those channels that you like are being subsidized by channels that I like and vice versa. I’m a big supporter of Apple products and services but Apple has ZERO leverage with the networks as far as forcing them into à la carte pricing.  The industry doesn’t want to do it to begin with and Apple lacks the infrastructure and ability to distribute programming on their own (I’ll come back to that part in a bit).  Apple will get no licensing deals… period.

Seriously, if this idea of à la carte is such a great idea and the cable providers are just trying to screw the consumer then why isn’t DirecTV or Dish Network doing it?  The answer is simple:  they can’t.  “Herculean” doesn’t begin to describe the impossibility of Apple or anyone else being able to get the licensing to offer à la carte channels.  It’s pure Science Fiction that it could ever happen.  No – I take that back.  Science fiction actually has some basis in reality, this dream doesn’t.  Does it occur to these people that even the programming on Netflix, for example, is all provided through packaged content based on deals with the networks/studios?  Do they really think that Netflix is able to purchase program rights one program at a time?  How would Apple be able to accomplish this task?

To equate this with the music industry and iTunes is just foolish even on its face.  The music industry has always been à la carte even before the era of iTunes and until a decade ago there was only free, over-the-air access to it from a broadcast perspective (and even the most popular Internet music providers are still free and the pay radio services are floundering).  The cable television industry, on the other hand, has been in existence since 1948, and unlike the cable television industry, the music industry doesn’t control the means of distribution.  This is completely an apples-to-oranges comparison.

This is a short-sighted, analysis on a subject that these people know nothing about but think that they are experts on because they know how to use the features on their TV or iPod and tell the rest of the world why it’s so fantastic or why it’s garbage.  Hey… just because I know what makes a great car stereo it doesn’t mean that I know a thing about the auto industry, but on the other side of the coin, because this is a blog about television, I’ve made a point to get myself educated on all aspects of the business that relate to television programming and where it’s going.  It would be nice if other outlets would do the same.

Sweet!

Now, without a question, I do like what Apple is doing with their products and innovation (I’m particularly excited about iCloud) and I like what other companies such as Google, Yahoo! and, of course, Netflix are doing as well. Options are good for the consumer. Competition is good. These tech companies are forcing the cable industry to improve their products and services to keep up and control their prices. My cable bill actually went down when I recently moved and I added services not to mention that my services that I have as a customer at no extra charge continue to increase (Just found out that there are free 3D movies on HBO OnDemand and the other premium channels… how cool is that?).

I look at this type of tech and product from Apple and others as supplemental, though, and really, so should everyone else.  It’s not going to replace cable TV or satellite EVER, it’s just going to provide the option of low-cost video entertainment alternatives to people who want them for extra content or provide services to people who don’t subscribe to cable due to the cost. Win-win all the way around. But you have to keep this in mind, and I have discussed this before, the industry is not going to be streamrolled by upstarts in the Internet television racket when it’s the cable television providers that provide the vast majority of bandwidth for the these Internet video services.

What right does Apple or Netflix or any other company have to use the bandwidth and infrastructure of a cable company at no charge to sell their product and intentionally undercut the cable companies? The cable companies have spent billions of THEIR OWN money on infrastructure and the big problem that no one is discussing except for those of us that professionally have an inside track on these issues is the bandwidth problems that have already begun to start popping up due to Internet video services, and this is with a non-adversarial/non-competitive relationship between the industries.  This isn’t an issue of a few people using a lot of bandwidth due to P2P services and needing to be capped, it’s an issue of a consumer base that has multiple Internet video capable devices that is growing exponentially and the infrastructure not be able to accommodate the usage.

I’ve had long discussions about this with engineers in the industry and the problem is that there are geographical areas with weak bandwidth due to the excessive usage. It’s not a universal issue (yet) but it’s kind of like the thin spots in the Ozone layer.  To refer to Cox as an example, they are not capping bandwidth currently and my sources tell me that they have no intention of doing so but the reality is that they and other providers can’t currently keep up with an inevitable future that’s coming very quickly where Internet video services are so universal as to completely overload their infrastructure so what they are doing is addressing (see: Band Aid-ing) each individual customer problem as the the complaints occur… kinda like the dutch boy and the dam.  I don’t have any particular insight into what other providers are doing, however, it only makes sense that they are  doing the same thing, even if they are capping usage.

Apple, Netflix, Hulu, etc., are completely dependent on the cable industry for getting their product to their customers. The cable television industry isn’t stupid about this nor are the Internet video providers.  And before you even start talking about net neutrality as a way to strongarm cable providers into treating Internet video provider traffic equally, forget it.  It’s not going to happen because if it were to happen the industry has stated publicly that they will halt all capital investments into advances in technology and infrastructure which will slow down the Internet to a crawl.  Again, like the à la carte nonsense, this will only hurt the consumer.

The reality of what’s going to happen is that the Internet video providers and the cable television industry are going to work it out in a manner that’s mutually beneficial, I can guarantee you that. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the internet video services that are available on video game consoles, standalone media players such as the Roku, select Blu-Ray players and televisions will be available on digital cable boxes and DVR’s as well within the next five years.  Hulu Plus and Netflix are already available with a TiVo (yes, we know about the licensing problems regarding cable companies… that’s another discussion.) so there’s no reason to believe that cable and satellite providers won’t get in on this as well with the devices that they provide their customers.  But no one should be fooled into thinking Apple is going to, wants to or has the ability to replace cable or even offer à la carte channels. It’s just not going to happen. This is beyond “pie in the sky” speculation for Gizmodo and the tech hacks at the WSJ.

Our Ass...

Seriously, at least on our blog when we talk out of our collective asses with our wild speculations, we attempt to base it on facts and some knowledge about the subject we’re talking about.  Maybe some other well-established niche blogs and well-respected mainstream outlets might consider that approach as well instead of the frankly, lazy tabloid journalism approach that seems so popular today.

Alternate History – Spike

Desperate illegals trying to escape from the United States into Mexico? Nazi soldiers patrolling the border? That’s right, welcome to America… if Hitler had won World War II! This is Alternate History on SPIKE! – Spike

Rating: 25 out of 100

We normally don’t waste our time with the silly, albeit guilty pleasure fare of Spike TV for the purposes of the ‘Tastic, however, “the special,” Alternate History (Spike is calling it a “special,” it seemed a lot more like a back-door pilot to us), piqued our interest with the trailers and then so thoroughly disappointed us with the actual production that we felt it was necessary for the sake of historical and intellectual honesty to warn our readers to stay away from this ridiculous crapfest trying to pass itself off as a serious documentary.

On its face, it would seem to be an intriguing idea for discussion.  It is pretty well-accepted by scholars that WWII could have gone either way save for a few key events but the problem is that this dopey presentation doesn’t talk about those key events, per se, it discusses technologies that were researched but never developed to their full capability. Now, if you’re going to have the, “What if the Nazis completed/used [insert technology here]?” discussion, you’d better provide some historical context to back up your speculation.  This mess does nothing of the sort and to make matters worse it is riddled with credible sources providing interviews (Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, historical scholars, military experts, etc.) in an attempt to fool the viewer into believing this schlock is anything more than really bad science fiction.

A fine example of this was the nonsense they presented during the opening of the show when they suggest that D-Day would have turned out differently had the Messerschmitt Me 262 (the world’s first jet fighter which had been in development since 1941) been mass-produced, but “Hitler and his generals didn’t grasp the tactical importance…”   First, this is historically inaccurate as the Me 262 didn’t even go into service to have pilots trained to fly it until April of 1944 and didn’t even see combat until July… a month after D-Day.  It wasn’t an issue of mass-production it was an issue of technological development, and that’s what Hitler (not his generals) didn’t grasp; the importance of focusing efforts on military technologies for future use.

Because of his lack of military command experience and his massive egomania, Hitler didn’t care about scientific advancement unless it gave immediate results to be used in the war effort. Therefore, there weren’t enough resources dedicated to the Me 262 or any other cutting edge technology until it was too late because Hitler allocated all of the Reich’s resources on the mass-production of current technologies that were in use (tanks, munitions, aircraft, etc.).  The point of all of this is that when discussing any of these technologies, the discussion ends right there. These new technologies could never have been used to any serious degree by the Nazis to change the outcome of the war because a cult of personality was running the military, not the military.  Alternate History doesn’t even address that because if they did, that eliminates the rest of this science fiction speculation about what America would be like over the next 70 years.

Speaking of which, we don’t know what’s more stupid, the complete ignorance surrounding the historical and political context or the notion that all of the technological advances made possible by the post-war boom and American innovation would exist under National Socialism… just a little different.  By its very nature Naziism represses innovation due to the fact that all advancement would be controlled by the state for the purpose of benefiting the state.  I.e., no capitalism and that’s what’s pushed the greatest advances in technology and quality of life, post-war.  Of course there’s also the issue of only the racially pure being allowed to participate and there’s also the little problem that Hitler is still in the picture and if he didn’t see the value in pursuing a technology, it wouldn’t be pursued… which is of course the same problem with the technology during the war.  For crap’s sake, if you want an understanding about what life would be like if the Nazis won, read George Orwell’s 1984 (or if you’re too lazy, watch the various film incarnations).  Yeah, we know Orwell intended it as an allegory to Stalinism but there isn’t a whole heck of a lot that distinguishes the two socio-political systems.

We can only recommend Alternate History in so far as you have to see this for yourself to understand just how stupid it is.  If, as we suspect, this is a backdoor pilot and there is an intention to do more of these Alternate History shows, we can only assume that it’s going to be as bad as this first episode.  Below is the entire episode.  See if you can get past the first five minutes.

More thoughts:

To further understand why Hitler could never have succeeded, I refer you the 2004 German bio-pic, Downfall starring Bruno Ganz as Hitler during the last week of Hitler’s life… in the bunker.  To understand Naziism, you have to understand Hitler and if you weren’t a history major with a focus on WWII or just a serious WWII buff, you’d never be able to comprehend the true level of insanity that surrounded Hitler and his cult.  This is just something that they don’t teach in high school or in a level 100 or 200 college course. Downfall  effectively spells it out for the masses.  Here’s the full film, enjoy!

Strike Back – Cinemax (Friday – 10:00 p.m.)

A high-octane, globe-spanning thriller with storylines ripped from today’s headlines, Strike Back, Cinemax’s first scripted prime-time original drama series, focuses on two members of a top-secret intelligence agency known as Section 20: Michael Stonebridge, a British sergeant on the elite counter-terrorism team, and Damien Scott, a former U.S. Delta Force operative who was discharged on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Stonebridge, Scott and the rest of Section 20 criss-cross the globe on the trail of a deadly international terrorist named Latif, who is planning a major attack involving a cache of WMD that could have global repercussions. – Cinemax

(NOTE:  The ‘Tastic has changed its rating system.  We are now using a 100 point scale.)

Our Rating: 90 out of 100

There are some shows that we go into saying to ourselves, “this could be a lot of fun or this could be complete crap” and it doesn’t seem like there really is a chance that there could be a middle ground for it.  Cinemax’s first serialized drama, Strike Back, is no exception and adding to the either/or possibilities for the series is the fact that it’s on at 10:00 p.m. on Friday nights… and it premiered in the middle of summer.  No one watches television at 10:00 p.m. on Friday except your grandmother who’s watching 20/20.  The coveted 18 – 49 demographic is out getting their freak on.  Well, they all need to get their twerking asses home (NOTE: thanks to YouTube, we just learned what twerking was yesterday, so… we’re hip.) and sober up because they now have a reason to not leave the house… and to subscribe to a premium cable package.

THIS is what an action show is all about.  We’ve seen a few comparisons to 24 thrown around and, honestly, for about twenty seconds we were thinking the same thing, but then it dawned on us that the shows are very dissimilar except for the fact that they focus on a counter-terrorist organization, are action-packed and seem to throw in a cliffhanger/big twist at the end of each episode. Well… OK, we will concede that it would appear “on paper” at least, that they are a lot alike but we think the comparisons and the noted similarities of the show by ourselves and others is more representative of nostalgia and 24 withdrawal more than anything else.  Don’t forget, we were promised that NBC’s The Event was going to be the next 24, heck it was going to be Lost meets 24 but that didn’t quite work out that way at all.  We’re all just jonesing for the next 24, is all.

Truthfully speaking, Strike Back plays out and is produced much more like a feature film than it is a television series, even a premium cable television series.  We can only imagine what the budget on this show is as they don’t seem to be pulling any punches at all and it should be noted that although this is the first season of the show for us here in the U.S., this was originally a Sky 1 show in the U.K. (Chris Ryan’s Strike Back) so what we’re watching now is actually season two (known as Strike Back: Project Dawn in the U.K.) . This is the same thing that Starz did with Torchwood: Miracle Day and it’s becoming kind of annoying.  Yeah, we get the fact that you’re taking great U.K. series and adapting them for the U.S. audiences in such a way that they don’t have to see the previous seasons in order to immediately catch on but it’s just retarded.  Just based on the description in Wikipedia, if you didn’t see the first season on Chris Ryan’s Strike Back, than you missed a lot and we know for certain that the same can be said for the first three seasons of Torchwood.  Hey, Cinemax and Starz: get your acts together and order the prior seasons and air them before your network exclusive show.  You’re doing a disservice to your audiences by not.

Anyway, as clichéd as it sounds, Strike Back truly is a non-stop adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  The characters are complex and well-developed, the plotline is smart and will keep you guessing and unlike the most of the shows on HBO that are just plain lazy, the violence and language is actually more-or-less appropriate when considered in context with the show.  Now, there is a TON of gratuitous sex and nakedness going on but the damned show is so good that they get a pass from us on this.  Honestly, in this case the T ‘n A seems more like an added bonus on this testosterone filled thrill-ride.

Speaking of clichéd, though, as good as the show is, we did have two complaints: we really do like the characters but the characters of both Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) and Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester), our male leads, came off as very clichéd and cartoonish in the beginning of the first episode.  It was just kind of silly, stereotypical action-movie character crap that was very off-putting.  As the episode progressed it improved dramatically with both characters showing much deeper levels of complexity.

Our other complaint was the “cliffhanger”/”big-twist” at the end of the episode. Without giving anything away, if you watched this episode and didn’t see the twist coming the moment character-X was introduced than you were asleep.  That or you never watched 24 or Die Hard or any one of a number of action films/television shows.  It was lame, it was lazy and it was predictable.  We love a good twist, but don’t treat us like we’re morons.

You can watch full episodes of Strike Back, here.

…And for your added viewing pleasure, right here!

And to sweeten the deal, some saint has posted the entire first season, right here!

The Killing – AMC (Sunday, 10:00 p.m.)

From writer, executive producer and series showrunner Veena Sud (Cold Case), The Killing is based on the wildly successful Danish television series Forbrydelsen and tells the story of the murder of a young girl in Seattle and the subsequent police investigation. 

The Killing ties together three distinct stories around a single murder including the detectives assigned to the case, the victim’s grieving family, and the suspects. Set in Seattle, the story also explores local politics as it follows politicians connected to the case. As the series unfolds, it becomes clear that there are no accidents; everyone has a secret, and while the characters think they’ve moved on, their past isn’t done with them.

The Killing stars Mireille Enos (Big Love) as Sarah Linden, the lead homicide detective that investigates the death of Rosie Larsen; Billy Campbell (Once and Again) as Darren Richmond, Seattle’s City Council President and now running for Mayor; Joel Kinnaman (Snabba Cash) as Stephen Holder, an ex-narc cop who joins the homicide division in the investigation to find Rosie’s killer; Michelle Forbes (True Blood) as Rosie’s mother, Mitch Larsen; and Brent Sexton (W., In the Valley of Elah) as Rosie’s father, Stan Larsen. The pilot was directed by Patty Jenkins (Monster). – AMC

10 out of 10

We were very torn about exactly when to do a review on this show and more importantly what rating to give it because we couldn’t tell if this was one of the most clever and original premises for a police procedural or if its cleverness was overshadowed by how slow and plodding it is.  Truthfully, we thought we had the answer by about the fifth episode but we really didn’t appreciate just how brilliant the show really was until the season finale and that’s why we chose to wait until the end of the first season to do the review.  The show kept switching gears on us and we didn’t know which way to turn.

Without a doubt, The Killing is one of the best shows on television… period. There are several factors that make this show amazing.

  1. Style and Format: In the tradition of such quality police procedurals as the BBC’s Prime Suspect, The Killing presents what is in and of itself a fantastic murder mystery. What’s different however is that it takes a bit of a cue from 24 but instead of each episode being in real-time and representing one hour of the day, each episode of The Killing represents one day of the 13-day investigation.
  2. Locale:  You probably know by now how much we appreciate when a television show uses its city has an integral character of the show. Well, The Killing does this probably more effectively than any other show on television. With a backdrop of Seattle in mid-Fall, there are literally two scenes throughout the first season where there is actual visible sunlight.  Like many shows on basic cable, it is not actually shot in the U.S., but in Canada.  In this case, the dark, dreary, sad and depressing look that the producers are trying to achieve actually works better where they film in Vancouver, British Columbia as the rain during fall and winter is much heavier there than the light rain and drizzle of Seattle.  We truly have never seen a show where the location and climate add so significantly to the events on the screen and the emotional response of the audience.
  3. Perspectives:  One of the things that make most police procedurals just generic, tasteless fare is the fact that there is zero emotional attachment to the victims in these plotlines.  At best, you get a show something like Law & Order where maybe you’ll see the victim alive momentarily in the beginning of the episode, then they’re dead and then you see the grieving relatives briefly and they are usually just trying to keep a stiff upper-lip.  Then, maybe near the end during the trial phase, you’ll see them there silently looking on.  We think this is pretty pathetic and unfortunately what audiences have become used to in regards to detective dramas.  Well, The Killing defies these conventions by having three main perspectives to the story as it unfolds and several much smaller perspectives developed only in as much to progress the plot.  The three main perspectives are those of the police, Councilman Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell – Melrose Place, Eureka) and his mayoral campaign staff (Rosie Larsen’s body was found in the trunk of one of the campaign’s cars) and, perhaps most importantly, the Larsen family themselves, particularly her parents, Stan (Brent Sexton – Justified, Life) and Mitch (Michelle Forbes – True Blood, Battlestar Galactica).  We cannot emphasize how important the victim’s family’s perspective is to the emotional gravity of the story.  It is probably the most important part of this story as one third of every episode is dedicated to the Larsens and their anguish and coping following the loss of their daughter.  As a parent, it is impossible to not be affected by this and it forces you as a viewer to become emotionally invested in not only the Larsens, but the police investigation itself.  It makes the crime personal and you want the white hats to prevail for this family because that could be your daughter.
  4. Clues:  What makes The Killing so damned perfect is the interactive nature of the show.  We intensely paid attention to the little nuances, character behaviors and evidence that has been scattered throughout each episode that if you’re just casually viewing, you’d miss.  There are no mistakes in this show.  Out of character behavior or offhanded remarks are there for a reason.  For the first time, we are actually going to go back and re-watch the entire first season and actually take notes.

Now, as an aside, you may have heard a lot of people complain and your’re going to see a lot of negative reviews about the season one finale, even from critics and fans who enjoyed the show up to that point.  Without giving any spoilers away, the fact is, this show was not meant for those people.  It was meant for the intelligent television viewer and although that may sound condescending, it’s not intended to be.  It’s meant for the viewer who appreciates a good serialized story-arc and mystery.  It is not meant for the typical television viewer with a short-attention span who needs things neatly wrapped up at the end of 60 minutes every week.  The viewers and critics who are complaining about the finale are acting out on their own personal embarrassment over being outsmarted by what they perceived to be a straightforward, linear procedural despite the fact that it hasn’t been since the pilot.

This is only the third “perfect 10” rating we’ve given for a new series since we started this blog back in May of 2010.  We don’t hand them out lightly (and indeed we have another one in the pipe, shortly as well) and despite all of the crap and disappointing new shows that aired in the past year, we are more than happy to put The Killing in the same class as HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and F/X’s ill-fated Lights Out.  This show is a keeper and we can’t wait for season two.

Check out AMC’s offical site for the killing, here, for more about the show.

TBS Cancels Lopez Tonight: 546,000 People Are Pissed, No One Else Cares

We are pleased to announce that The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that TBS will not be renewing George Lopez’s late night talk show, Lopez Tonight.

“TBS has reached the difficult decision not to order a third season of Lopez Tonight,” a spokesperson added. “We are proud to have partnered with George Lopez, who is an immensely talented comedian and entertainer. TBS has valued its partnership with George and appreciates all of his work on behalf of the network, both on and off the air.”

Really?  “…Immensely talented?”  This was a “…difficult decision?”  OK… Let’s be completely honest: George Lopez sucks donkey balls… metaphorically speaking, of course.  What the man does in his personal time, we have no insight on nor can we comment on.  But, the fact is that he hasn’t been funny in over a decade.  Don’t get us wrong, he used to be funny but ever since he got his horrible sitcom on ABC that lasted six seasons, he started just phoning it in and collecting checks and letting  the horrible writers on that show write all of his comedy… and apparently think for him as well.

MAKE! IT! STOP!

Seriously, have you ever been able watch his sitcom and been able to tolerate it for more than five minutes without wanting to repeatedly punch yourself in the face.  George Lopez is one of the most unfunny crapfests ever put on prime time network television just barely more tolerable than $#*! My Dad Says.  Truthfully, there is one reason and one reason only to have ever watched that show: the hottie mom and daughter.  But, Hell, I have the Internet and there are plenty of places to go to that are dedicated exclusively to hottie Latinas (of the mother and daughter variety as well) that provide far more entertainment.

Constance Marie & Masiela Lusha... See what we mean?

As noted, Lopez Tonight was as equally unfunny (sans the hotties) as his sitcom, and even worse, very polarizing.  His political rants are mean-spirited and he’s actively alienating any kind of mainstream audience that used to appreciate him and if any of the 500 thousand people who are fans of his don’t think this played a part in his audience numbers falling off the cliff they are delusional.  Oh, and if you’re wondering why we included a pic of two actresses who were on his show that was canceled three years ago ask yourself this: would you have preferred reading this piece having only pictures of George Lopez’ ‘I-was-fed-rock-candy-with-slingshot’ face, a donkey and a guy punching himself in the face? We didn’t think so.

So, good riddance, George.  We’re looking forward to the reruns of The X-Files or Seinfeld that will undoubtedly be taking your place… or perhaps we’ll just go to bed earlier.