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2007 - a(n) (audible) year in review

posted in Media on December 31st, 2007

After a quick summary of the, according to me, best reads of 2007, it is once again, time for a compilation of the best aural releases from the past year.

Brett Dennen - Ain’t no reason

For one reason or another, many of this year’s top song come from TV shows such as Jericho (more on that later) and The Unit and it comes as no surprise then that the previously mentioned “Ain’t no reason” by Brett Dennen gets the award for best “standalone song from 2007″ from me.

Meaningful lyrics that tell things like they are, not like people want them to be and the song that was used for my impromptu-inauguration at xolo.tv, this was the one song I could not stop listening to in 2007.

Room Eleven - Six White Russians and a Pink Pussycat

The band that made the most impact on me was, without a doubt, Room Eleven with their awesome album “Six White Russians and a Pink Pussycat”. Their live performance was not just okay or good, it was great.

Songs such as One of these Days,
Flavour
and Come Closer are what music should be about: a great voice combined with great tunes.

Jericho and Portal

Other items that deserve to be mentioned are Portal’s Still Alive - the credits song from VALVe’s puzzle game released in fall this year.

A definite thumbs-up goes out to Jericho’s music team, with hot tracks such as Foo Fighter’s Times like These and Five for Fighting’s World.

TV Season 2007 / 2008

posted in Media on September 25th, 2007

The summer is (finally) coming to an end and the only show worth watching during the summer break, Eureka only has another two episodes left before it, too, goes on hiatus (with no word on a possible third season yet).

Fret not though, for all is not lost: the third (and fourth) week of September generally marks the beginning of the Fall season for TV shows and therefore also means that a number of great series will either start or continue.

Last year around, I only really discussed one show, Jericho, which, incidentally will return for a second season, sometime mid-season - which can be anywhere from November to March.

Jericho was first canceled and then renewed only a couple of days later, thanks to the doing of many, many fans that kept sending nuts (an insider reference to the last episode) to CBS, Jericho’s home.

If you have never seen Jericho, I suggest you either try to catch the re-runs, or grab yourself the DVD; in any case, you will not regret me exposing (yes, another insider reference) you to this stuff.

Secret Wars around the globe

Last May, The Unit, another CBS hit show, concluded with a breathtaking finale that left more than a handful of questions open. Tonight, September 25th, the third season’s premiere will start answering a couple of these questions.

The best way I can classify The Unit is by calling it a military-social-drama, which means that there is a lot of shooting, some killing, a couple of nice explosions, a great song and of course the really dangerous things, these elite soldiers face: the home-front which consist of adultery, lies and other niceties.

Save the cheerleader … then what?

NBC’s Heroes was one of the most successful series last year, with an approximate 14 million viewers during the premiere as well as a place in the “Top 10 TV Shows of 2006″ ballot from the American Film Institute.

The second season kicked off yesterday and continues where the first season left off - in feudal Japan and although I could give you a synopsis of the first episode, it is best not to spoil anything. Heroes, simply is too great a work of (modern day filming) art to not experience it on your own time.

On a related note: close to the end of the 2007 / 2008 season, Heroes: Origins will premiere, which will feature six episodes, with one new hero in every episode, at the end of the mini-series, viewers will get to vote which will be allowed to return in a third season.

From Stargate to Atlantis

On September 28th, this Friday, the SciFi channel will premiere the fourth season of Stargate: Atlantis and for the first time, this will be the only Stargate franchise that will kick-off at that day.

Season 10 of Stargate was concluded last May, after more than 200 episodes, which, incidentally, made it the longest running science fiction show, just a few episodes ahead of The X - Files.

The new season will bring a number of changes, such as one of the main characters from Atlantis giving up her job and another main character from Stargate: SG1 taking up her place. Apart from that, the fourth season will also feature the return of crowd-favorite Dr. Beckett, who passed away in the latter half of the third season.

The great thing with scifi is that you can, one way or another, revive people and while there were no plans to bring back Beckett at first, fans of the show around the world united in order to bring back the heart of Atlantis.

Interns and Relationships

Apart from Stargate: Atlantis, Grey’s Anatomy will also start it’s fourth season this Thursday, September 28th, which, too, will answer a great number of open questions on the status of the various relationships between, among and across the various actors.

One day prior, Grey’s Anatomy’s spin-off Private Practice will start its 13 episode season. The show will focus on the life of one Dr. Montgomery after she left Seattle Grace Hospital and heads down to the Los Angeles area in order to, well, join a private practice.

Shanks and Shackles

While not as good as all-time favorite prison show Oz in my opinion, Fox’ Prison Break just kicked off its third season a week ago and once again tells the story of two brothers who “got each others backs in times of need”.

While the first two season took place mostly in the North American part of this world, the third season features a plot in Panama with a selection of new threats, new fish and questionable alliances.

The (silent) clock

Much later this season, January 13th, 2008 to be precise - everyone’s favorite counter-terrorist Jack Bauer will return for season 7 of 24. Contrary, however, to the previous six season, Bauer will not be the same “guy” anymore; Season 7 will be very different to what we have grown accustomed too and will feature a much darker plot.

It is expected that season 7 will introduce a (number of) plot(s) that will be concluded during the eight season, which is as far as Fox went with pre-ordering new episodes.

3, 2, 1 … cut!

All the above shows have been hand-picked by me, they represent my personal taste and my personal taste only. The shows range from drama to action to thrillers to science fiction and the only thing they really do have in common is that they all provide a great source of entertainment.

Not all of the above mentioned shows are safe for young children, so make sure you know what your kids are watching.

[UPDATE]

For those that are curious, The Unit’s new theme song is called Walk the Fire, by Robert Duncan, the guy who also made the theme for the first two seasons. Both tracks are available for listening at Robert Duncan’s MySpace page.

[UPDATE #2]

I just came across this bit on the premier Eureka fansite VisitEureka.net that states:

SCI FI Channel has greenlit production on a third season of its most-watched Original Series Eureka, ordering 13 new hours of the dramedy.

So, come summer 2008, Eureka will be returning for a third season, yay for that.

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poor offering killed the medium

posted in College on February 9th, 2007

Let’s be honest, TV as a single medium is dead. No TV station with more than 5k viewers nowadays can afford to only provide it’s viewers with one means of access to its content.

Thanks to recent advances in technology, it has become very easy for people to turn into guerilla filmmakers and there has been an explosive grow of content. Nowadays, just about everyone can create just about everything. While the quality of such user-generated content might not be on-par with what the “big guys” are producing, this development certainly shows that consumers don’t want to just sit down and have the TV channel hit them with their “fix”, no, users are looking to take part in the whole process.

While the situation in Europe isn’t as advanced as in the United States, TV channels have done a great job in providing users with more means to interact with what’s happening on screen. During casting shows, viewers are able to vote for their favourite up-and-coming-star and for certain TV shows, consumers can even receive up to the minute information as to when a given show really starts.

Sadly, all these “enhancements” are actually ways to generate more revenue and provide little added service for the viewer. Compared to what consumers in the US of A are able to receive, this development looks like TV channels in Europe are only slightly past the stone age.

“Companion” was, according to me, the buzzword of the years 2005 and 2006 in media that was broadcast in recent years. Viewers expect to receive more “bang for their buck” so to speak and the bigger media networks are more than happy to oblige:

CBS’ new hit show “Jericho” for example is available for free on InnerTube, via a streaming Flash Player. The show’s web companions “Beyond Jericho” and “Countdown” provide extra information about the story. While they don’t feature the same characters, fans are given an extra five minutes of their favourite show every week.

The SciFi channel approaches the problem from a different point of view: it’s hit series Stargate: SG1 and Stargate: Atlantis are both accompanied by about five weblogs each, written by the show’s producers, actors and other staff. During the first three shows of the last three seasons, SciFi even released podcasts that provided additional commentary to the story on screen.

These channels have seen the light, they know that they can’t beat the Internet’s power, so they decided to harness it in the best way possible. The result? Stargate: SG1 has seen a 15% increase in viewers over the last three years, which is amazing for a show that has been running for close to ten years now.

Sure, in the end, all these networks want is more viewers so they can sell more airtime to their advertisers, but the deal offered to the consumer is a good one.

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2006 - a (televised) year in review

posted in Media, personal stuff on December 28th, 2006

This is part two of a three post series where I’m reviewing media that was made available to me in 2006. Part 1 talked about printed media, this part will discuss televised media and part 3 will discuss audible media. Sorry folks, nothing computer related this year, not in this trilogy anyway.

First in the listing is CBS’ Jericho, dubbed a post-apocalyptic drama about a small town (Jericho, Kansas), the directors
managed to deliver eleven breathtaking episodes, combining interpersonal drama with action scenes and topped the whole thing with a great cliffhanger. The actors do a great job in portraying their characters. If you want to read more about it, click here or here.

SciFi’s EUReKA is the second series I’d like to discsus want to talk about. SciFi’s program managers planned the first episode during the premiere screening of the Battlestar Galactica Season 3 trailer. A very smart idea, with a high reward. EUReKA’s pilot turned out to be the highest rated show ever televised on the SciFi channel. A series about small town with a big secret, EUReKA mixes funny stories with interesting science.

Last but not least, there’s Grey’s Anatomy, dubbed a chick-flick (it’s actually a series, not a flick), I find it far more entertaining than comparable series like ER et al. Granted, the characters don’t appeal to me on a visual level, but then again, that’s not what I’m looking for anyway. I like the easy to digest stories that are never too complicated to be incomprehensible when you’ve missed an episode or two. The music that’s selected for the show, a combination of feel-good music and alternative rock, spiked with meaningful lyrics, is what really makes my day though.

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Jericho isn’t just a town in the West Bank…

posted in Media on September 20th, 2006

… it’s also the name of a hot new show premiering on CBS later tonight.. I’ve watched the preview a couple of times now and I think you should too.

Jericho is about a fictional city, located in Kansas. The pilot suggests that the city is caught between not just one, but two possible nuclear explosions. Power in and around the city starts to fail and the people are cut off from the outside world.

Unsure as to what exactly happened, groups start to form and most people only care about their own well-being … or do they? Watch the episode to see what I mean.

This show has potential. Let’s see what the rest of the season brings…

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