I wanted to write this down before I forgot.
As most of you may know, I've been writing a few reviews for the television podcast and review site Televisions Zombies. I don't mean to pimp it so often here, but honestly it's the most notable and enjoyable thing I've done for a few years now - hoboes notwithstanding.
Reviewing all the Charlie Jade episodes as well as the first couple Fringe shows, I came to the conclusion that I have no idea how to give something a five star rating. I've been reaching the end of my reviews (which technically are 80% recap and 20% op-ed piece) frustrated because I have no idea how to grade a show let alone a series of shows.
My brother-in-law (ex brother-in-law? almost ex...) my friend's come up with a pretty decent system for movies that I thought I'd try but it didn't work for serials. Here's how it goes.
5 stars - Pay full price to see it again in the theater.
4 stars - Pay matinee price.
3 stars - Rent it on DVD.
2 stars - Watch it on a premium channel.
1 star - Watch it on network TV.
Pretty good, right? Especially knowing him, I can now get a fair idea of what a movie will be like if he gives me that rating. It even allows for 1/2 stars; wait in line for hours before full price to see it again may even give it a glorious 5 1/2 stars. 3 1/2 stars may mean putting it high up on your Netflix queue. The lowly half star would be to watch it on basic cable with no HD if there was nothing else on. No stars would mean to never speak of it again.
I tried to adapt this to TV shows, but the first 3 don't really work. First, it's a serious investment to watch a show you've never seen on DVD. The sets are expensive and it generally takes weeks if not months to get through a series. I had to rethink. What I came up with isn't so much system where a show just falls into a category, but more like gymnastics scores where something starts out at a certain difficulty and is deducted points based off things that may have gone on during the show. I haven't finalized this list or had an opportunity to try it out, but I came up with the idea because I was getting tired of not wanting to grade shows poorly just because they weren't exciting. They may have been interesting, may have only had one or two small problems, but no reason to give something what amounts do a D (3 stars.)
So here's some ideas, and feel free to comment or add to it. Each show starts at 5 stars. There's no automatic deductions going in as I'm willing to let every show I watch have a chance to just wow the socks off my ass.
-1 if I'm not excited to see next week's episode. Week to week dramas may suffer in this department, and they should. If I watch an episode of In Plain Site and then miss a week and I'm not depressed about it, it's not an exciting show.
-1 if the show ends on a cliff hanger that's immediately resolved in the preview for next week. Yes this is out of the show's control, but you know what? It's an overall experience and you ruined any reason for me to wait with bated breath until next week's installment.
- 1/2 if I can detect a plot hole while watching. I'm not terribly bright when it comes to writing conventions, so if I see a major issue in the show WHILE I'm watching, that's a bad sign.
- 1/2 if at any point I roll my eyes at a piece of dialog. Be it sappy or campy or predictable or completely out of place, if I have a physical knee jerk reaction to something going on then it's at least worth a half - more if I start yelling at the TV.
- 1/2 if I can't follow along. With this in mind, I'd have constantly down graded The West Wing because I'd have to constantly rewind to see who said what, or ask fellow viewers what happened. If my big clue that something major happened is a musical cue then I'm having a hard time following along.
- 1 if I don't mind leaving the show while it's playing. Chances are I'd change the channel anyway, so what does it matter that I'm not paying attention.
- 1 if I don't plan on watching it again later. This may happen more to new shows, but also changes in shows that have gone on a long time.
- 1 if I get to the end of the show and either immediately forget what happened (because it's forgettable) or I feel like I just wasted a half hour/hour of my time.
It's general, it's vague, it's subjective, but I think it's a good start. I tend to write recaps while I'm watching the show (which is an interesting task) so I'd be easy to keep notes about any of these events. It may also mean some shows may seem good at first but end up getting a lower score and some blasé shows rate much higher than they otherwise might have. But that's the nature of critiques; it's all personal. I know that while I'd give Fringe a pretty good rating, other people I know very much despise the show and are now only going to watch it to make fun of the "science." To each his own.
I'm also trying to avoid feeling like I'm grading a show based on the series as a whole and not each episode's individual performance. If a new person comes into a TV show, they need to know if that was a good episode or a bad one based on the strength of that show alone. Later they can go back and say it wasn't the best of the season. Reason being, a five star show you see at 2am on cable versus a five star show you see at 8pm on Thursday night is going to show obvious differences. But to me productions values, while important, shouldn't make or break the show. This is then done to try and alleviate the comparison to other shows as well.
In the end, it's going to come down to what kind of mood I'm in, what time of day it is, if I have to pause it to go bath or feed kids or if I get a phone call that makes me have to watch the rest of the show on another night. It can't all be perfect, but I think this is a good start.
Yes I need to spend more time doing something else.
Last night the AMC series Mad Men won a few awards, were nominated for quite a few as well. 30 Rock won a couple as well. As I drove in this morning, a bit on the radio reminded me of something I'd read and discussed a while ago about product integration.
I'm not saying I was integral to what happened - I am but a small voice in a small city. I enjoyed a few emails from both parties but so would any customer who took the time to complain. I haven't read back on the posts I'd written, so let's just assume they were filled with golden and flakey civility.
Which made me laugh just a little bit when I saw a public service announcement saying that Time Warner and KXAN were having the same issue. Far be it from humble little consumer to point fingers or call names or throw flaming hot rocks in my sugar-glass house but reading the ins and outs of the situation was like going back in time. Here it is in a nutshell. KXAN thinks it's worth more, its parent company LIN TV goes to Time Warner and says, "Pay us cash for fair market value." Time Warner says, "We'll keep paying you what we're paying plus we'll increase some ad placement." (If they went that far at all, doesn't look like they came back with much.) LIN TV says they'll play hardball and KXAN is pulled from Time Warner. If all goes according to history, that will last a couple days until Time Warner picks up either a close affiliate or the two sides agree.
So it got me thinking, does KXAN really think it's not getting its value in the Austin market? Is it just the Austin market? I read originally that Suddenlink and LIN were also having a problem with a CBS station in New Mexico, so it's not just NBC stations. I honestly haven't read a lot of cable/broadcast TV business news, but having the only two instances I've seen in my city include the same owners, I'm wondering if there's something with LIN TV - something like...I don't know, delusional greed?
I'm sure that's not the case, but I'd like to reiterate that putting out ads for your customers saying the stations owners and the cable owners can't agree and you as the customer should call and complain is like your divorced parents telling you they don't like the settlement the court gave them and if you don't want your allowance cut you should contact the other parent. Getting customers in the way of a money/power struggle between broadcast companies is a shitty way of doing business. You want our input? You want our help? Bring in a la carte packages.
(originally posted by Chris Piers on TVZ)
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Greetings intrepid readers. You know, if you've read more than a year's worth of posts at LIA or have this blog on your RSS reader, I'd like to commend and thank you for your patronage. I often get the most random of comments from posts I'd forgotten about and it's nice to know that some people actually read the site...people I'm not related to that is.
That said, Deb, I'll also have to look at the Morning Star packaging. I generally don't eat the products with the exception of the veggie crumblies we put in spaghetti sauce or for burritos and I have no known food allergies so checking those boxes isn't terribly important to me. I will check it out though, but I'm sure Ms. A probably wouldn't eat so many of the breakfast sausages if there was stuff in there that she couldn't handle.
Moving on. Hurricane Ike has come and gone from Texas. It's now being a pain in the ass for the midwest in the form of rain and possible tornados. The hurricane itself never made it to Austin. Original models had it glancing off the hill country before traveling north, but the closer it came the impact became smaller until finally it was looking as though we'd not see any problems. Which we didn't. As the storm saturated everything along I-35 from Galveston to Hunstville, we enjoyed partly cloudy skies and some gusty breezes, but not a drop of rain. By Sunday morning we had bright blue skies and at present a cold front has moved through Central Texas bringing highs in the low 80's through the rest of the week. Not bad.
Ms. A's dad and step mom came out yesterday to leave the powerless Conroe. They tried leaving ahead of the storm, but decided not to and so they rode out the storm instead of riding a twelve hour car trip to Austin. Can't say as I'd blame them. Twelve hours to go 150 miles, I'd rather get punched in the nuts...but just once.
Moving on yet again, my LEGO addiction has taken full hold. All my old sets are built and I'm now debating on whether or not to go buy more older sets as well as new Star Wars sets or to dismantle what I have and start building on my own. It's the collector versus creator fight and sadly I've abandoned most of my drawing. Odd considering how many times on this blog I've bitched about not having enough time or motivation to draw. Amazing what one good weekend with an old familiar plaything can do for your morale. LEGO is a happy place for me. I could lose hours building with it, organizing it, coming up with ideas for new things. At one point in my life I'd even sent a letter to LEGO asking how to become a builder/designer. Turns out, at the time, you needed something crazy like an engineering degree or an architecture background. Later I became aware that you could get a Toy Design degree (which most major universities don't offer, but you can get them at art institutes.) Even later it became apparent that these accredited individuals were not sallying forth with the same creative spark as average LEGO fans so LEGO started Master Builder and Amabassador programs. These are hobbyists that are involved in the LEGO community but are recognized by LEGO (though not official employees) and as such have certain responsiblities and receive certain perquisites for being community role models.
How you get to be one I'm not sure, but from looking into it, I believe owning millions of bricks for more than 30 years is the only way. So I've got some work to do.
Talk about dream job. Long before I wanted to be a voice actor or comic book artist or cartoonist or comedian I wanted to build LEGO for a living. Wouldn't it be funny after 20 years of doing nothing but drawing I end up doing what I wanted to do from when I was 8? Don't get me wrong, I will likely still draw and doodle and illustrate when given the right motivation (good idea, money, familial request) but without daily practice that muscle will likely wither. I don't have 10 hours a day to draw and hone that craft, but I do have a few hours a night to build and building doesn't take as much practice, just a love of the bricks.
Moving on thrice fold, the 100 Artists Project is still going on. There was a snafu with the sketchbook so I had it sent back to me for corrections. So I got to see a year and a half worth of input and it was kind of neat. The book has traveled all over the US and to see it still in one piece was joyous - I almost teared up, honestly. I've received five short stories and one piece of artwork for the new project and so far about 50 people have signed up for the various charities. It's obvious this is going to be a long term project and I hope it gets its due at some point. It doesn't require a lot of work and I hope we can raise some good amounts of money for these groups. That's really all I want. If I wanted fame I wouldn't be doing a charity project.
Moving on completely and finally, the new season of shows are out and so far I've only caught a couple. I saw Fringe the other night and liked it. It didn't blow my mind but it didn't make me blow chunks either. I thought it was well rounded and it did admirably well for a pilot. I also caught The Sarah Conner Chronicles and was really impressed with that. I'm glad that show is back. I'm still watching Charlie Jade for the remainder of its sad little 2am run. It's not a bad show, honestly more well written and plotted than a lot of shows. Television Zombies has a current review and I've got more to come. Plus, keep an eye out for a Clone Wars commentary I recorded (yay voice!) that they'll hopefully play on the show or link on the site.
No more moving on today. I hope you all had a good summer and let's see if I can start posting more.
I'm still reviewing Charlie Jade over at Television Zombies. The season is a little more than half over and when it's done, it's done. It's a summer filler but so far it's more entertaining than the rest of the junk on Sci-Fi.
You can read the all the reviews here.
I'll also be picking up Dollhouse when it hits FOX in January. In the mean time, the fall television season is upon us. Make sure to stop by TVZ every week for their news and discussion and reviews of all things science fiction and television.