Archive for Television

Embracing your inner child

I keep typing out my thoughts on this commercial, and then I keep deleting them. Enjoy?

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In spite of myself, looking forward to ‘Web Soup’

I try not to make it a secret that I’m hopelessly addicted to celebrity gossip. No, I know: it’s a horrible way to spend my time, and it’s embarrassing that I blow my cigarette money on US Weekly, OK! Magazine, and People at the local CVS. I know, I know.

But one thing I like about E!’s reality TV weekly roundup, The Soup—you may have known it as Talk Soup in the 90s—is that it’s just a little smarter about everything, just a little more impish. Oh, sure, it helps that its gangly-hot host, Joel McHale, is twinkly-eyed and snappily dressed. Plus, he totally has it out for Tyra Banks, Miley Cyrus, and Kathy Lee Gifford.

Now, the minds behind The Soup embark on their greatest challenge yet: making the inanity of eBaumsworld funny. They’re producing a new show satirizing the worst of the Internet, Web Soup, premiering on the please-air-something-besides-Cops nerdery channel, G4tv. Hosted by Chris Hardwick, the spin-off promises to bring The Soup’s trademark snark to the awful car wreck that is Internet Video. LOL!

On the one hand, I have my doubts: the type of audience that watches web videos is exactly the sort that always catches it a week ahead of you. Like great celeb gossip, Caturday videos go viral well before they get reprinted on the newsstands several days too late—er, I mean, retweeted.

Still, The Soup’s own success defies all odds. Reality TV is dull, piddling, and the brain’s ultimate muscle relaxant—what possible commentary can a host add to something so stupid? And yet it works! If Web Soup reproduces even a third of The Soup’s charm, it will be well worth watching.

But can it compare to Current TV’s Viral Video Film School? Only time will crown the victor.

Web Soup premieres on G4tv June 7 at… 9PM… PST? Or sometime? Anytime?

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Weekend Lunch Break: South Korea and technology addiction

Ahhh, lunch hour—my favorite time of day to watch a half-hour documentary program. Close your IRC client, flip on Caffeine, put a silicone dustcover over your MacBook’s keyboard, embiggen the video into fullscreen, and sit back and relax. (Edit: Sorry, Firefox and AdBlock users; I don’t know how to help!)

This video, “The Most Wired Place on Earth,” is just the first in a series of six web videos, all culled from PBS/Frontline’s South Korea: Stories from the Most Wired Place on Earth. And though it’s really an introduction to the subsequent videos, it focuses on gaming and Internet addiction (notably, South Korea’s government is the first ever to intervene and treat its citizens’ electronic addictions). But the documentary focuses on gaming addiction in an interesting, careful, thoughtful, and competent way—I’m looking at you, Iowa State.

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“Now, Retro Game Challenge is hot!”

Retro Game Challenge, the English-language version of GameCenter CX: Arino no Chosenjou, launched earlier this month in North America. Its sequel is slated for release in Japan on the 26th (tomorrow!).

What follows are six minutes of an intriguing 23-minute program that aired on Japanese television on the 17th. It is meant, in turns, to promote Arino no Chosenjou 2, to give a history of the GameCenter CX television show, and, seemingly, to generate still more interest in the television show’s ongoing localization project.

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I Love the 80s: Michael Ian Black is REALLY into Ms. Pac-Man

“And dere’s one special lady who’s found her way through my vinyl-treated denim shirt and into my heart—and that’s this lady behind me. Meez Pac-Man.”

In an Angle Dance -caliber performance, The State’s Michael Ian Black—surrounded by dancers clad in Blade Runner raincoats—sings a love song to a Ms. Pac-Man upright arcade cabinet.

Dig that pompadour!

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First look!

To: Jenn
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This Friday’s episode of ‘Ghost Whisperer’ is going to be awesome

I am not telling you this to depress you: I really like watching Numb3rs on Friday nights. Maybe you already knew that—I know I’ve mentioned it before—but here is my real secret. Every once in a while, I actually like to stay parked on the sofa and also catch the latest episode of Ghost Whisperer, starring Jennifer Love Hewitt. As the Ghost Whisperer, Hewitt helps ghosts confront their loose ends before the transition to the afterlife. The television show is perfectly sincere and humorlessly campy, a spectacular cross between Medium and Touched by an Angel.

Reasons to watch episodes of Ghost Whisperer with any interest whatsoever: Jay Mohr is good; there’s an amazing episode with Nikki Cox; I’m trying to think of one more reason to edit in, but I can’t. And for the first couple seasons, every scene was shot strategically so that Hewitt’s hips were never visible (there’s a drinking game in there somewhere).

But set your Tivos for this Friday’s October 17 episode, “Ghost in the Machine”!

In reading various synopses, I have gleaned that a “ghost” is luring girls to a gaming “social networking website”. The trouble all starts when the main character checks out “Virtual Life” on the computer and a ghost “avatar” flies out of the monitor. Later, during another visit to “Virtual Life,” the main character’s “avatar” gets into a physical fight with the ghost’s “avatar.” The main character begins her investigation, and she meets someone named Ned on “Virtual Life” to “play DDR.”

I cannot wait for this episode. I especially like the supernaturally-tinged Dateline plot, designed to confirm everything my mom believes about the internet. It all reminds me of the time I begged my friend, whose own mom was the head writer for a popular daytime soap opera, to tell someone to rewrite a script that boasted a “hacking into an email” “using a Virus” subplot.

If you enjoy “Ghost in the Machine,” you might also like other movies with similar horror themes of “help! The game is too real!” I recommend How to Make a Monster, Stay Alive, and St. John’s Wort, all of which are piss-poor. Then, of course, there’s always Emilio Estevez’s fine turn in the “Bishop of Battle” segment in 1983’s Nightmares.

Any other Halloween suggestions?

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Cooking Nightmare

Gordon Ramsay superimposed atop fireI am completely in love with Gordon Ramsay. He is tall and intimidating and he has great hair. I love it when he shouts. I love it when he curses. Sometimes when I am slicing potatoes and celery for a pot roast, I imagine Chef Ramsay shouting at me angrily. I can’t help but beam. “Wipe that stupid grin off your face!” imaginary Ramsay shouts at me.

But there is such conflict in his brow, such tenderness in his soft blue eyes! He calls women “love” and “darling” in this perfect, inoffensively sexist way, except in the kitchen, where he’s all growls and snarls and pepper and fire. But he looks so sheepish when he accidentally breaks a plate—he cannot stop apologizing. He tries to disappear, but he can’t, because he is over six feet tall.

In the kitchen, Chef Ramsay is a benevolent dictator. “Would you just listen to him!” I shout at the television defensively. I cry during every episode of Kitchen Nightmares, and also at one episode of The F Word, the episode where Gordon Ramsay has to decide whether to slaughter a pig. I cannot understand how he is capable of furrowing his entire face; my heart breaks.

I think the reason I prefer Hell’s Kitchen to all the American Idols and Top Designers is, I have no opinions whatsoever. In Hell’s Kitchen, the only person I’m cheering for is Gordon Ramsay. Every contestant is a mess, and it isn’t as if I can taste the paella the Red Team bungled (“This is shit! Utter shit! Take off your apron! Get out!”). Until Magnavox invents Smell-o-vision, I’ll have to take it on Chef Ramsay’s word alone that the Red Team’s paella is shit. My only opinion is Gordon Ramsay’s.

In fact, my Hell’s Kitchen fandom is wholly predicated on my trust in Gordon Ramsay. He is impeccable; he has perfect judgement.

kitchen NIGHTMARE

...Oh.

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Catch Retro Game Master in NYC this weekend!

Yesterday, Wired’s videogame blog, Game Life, posted my blarticle, “Japan’s Cult Retro-Gaming TV Show Debuts in English.”

Last weekend, as part of the New York Asian Film Festival, moviegoers were treated to screenings of Retro Game Master, a lovingly localized version of Game Center CX. I happened to be in the city at that time, so there you are.

I hope it’s OK that I post this—I think the sound of the U.S. audience giggling at Shinya Arino in a theatrical setting is what really makes this so charming.

As for the event itself, the screenings were only half-hour clips, and derived from episodes I’ve already seen (without subtitles, of course), and not many people were there. “But!” I said to Emily Balistrieri, “the real thrill is what it all could mean.”

You can still make Retro Game Master part of your weekend plans:

If you’re in New York City, you can catch an encore presentation of the Retro Game Master episodes. The Mystery of Atlantis episode will be screened Saturday at noon. The Ghosts ‘n Goblins episode airs at noon Sunday and again at 11:30 a.m. July 2. Admission is free.
IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave., New York 10014 Box office: (212) 924-7771

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