We were sitting at Regal Colonie Center waiting for Zombieland to begin. That’s when they showed an extended preview of the new Ray Romano show on TNT, Men of a Certain Age.
“I don’t really get what that show is supposed to be about,” my 14-year-old son said.
I consider it one of my most important jobs as a father to explain things and offer some context.
“Well, when guys get to be my age they start to worry about things. Their job. Their health. You know. Getting old. It’s basically guys being worried about getting old.”
He was listening.
“Your body changes, people pass away, there are disappointments. Disillusion. And sometimes you might you start thinking that your best days are behind you. You know, you can’t do all the stuff you used to do.”
There was exactly one perfectly timed beat before he responded.
“You don’t need to watch TV to see that, do you?”
The role of the music critic is to explain why things you love completely suck. The internet hasn’t changed that —and if anything it’s made it worse.
It used to be that rock critics were fairly independent thinkers. They were forced to come up with their own reasons why the music you like isn’t any good —but today everything is different.
Now there are a million people on the web reviewing music so all a writer needs is to do a Google search and presto! He finds someone to tell him what to say.
Yeah, that sounds harsh but think about it. In the old days ideas were not at your fingertips. If you wanted information you’d have to trudge out to the library or newsstand. Today? Endless opinions 24/7 —and if you don’t know what to think you can easily find someone who’s already thought it.
For example, Daniel Durchholz wrote in the June 1 St. Louis Post-Dispatch about The Decemberists recent album, The Hazards of Love:
It’s instructive, though, to remember that such works were used as punching bags by punk rockers, who pointed to their pretentiousness and self-importance as embodying the very antithesis of rock.
Hmmm… good point —but original? Here’s a quote from just a few days earlier:
Prog-rock and concept records and ambitious projects like this were kind of anathema post-punk. They were destroyed with the advent of punk rock.
That was from an interview with Decemberists front man Colin Meloy in The Decider, a Milwaukee based web site published by the same people who bring you The Onion.
Yes, ideas are hard. But today maybe not so much.
When I heard that NBC was moving Jay Leno to 10pm five days a week here’s what I said: “Maybe they’ll let us air it later so we can run our news at 10.”
Just joking, but as it turns out it was not such an unusual idea —except for the “let us” part.
Boston NBC affiliate WHDH announced yesterday that they will do exactly that in September: put on an hour of local news starting at 10 and run Leno later. NBC? They’re having a fit —and media insiders speculate that if NBC doesn’t douse the sparks of this insurrection immediately it may spread like wildfire.
And what’s so bad with having Jay Leno at 10pm? Everything. Put something awful at 10 and it could mean even greater trouble for affiliates stuck with the network’s anemic prime time programming. It’s a completely untried strategy at a time when local TV stations are struggling with audience erosion. NBC has not had a CSI, an American Idol, or a Dancing With the Stars —and sooner or later something’s going to give.
Local news is a proven ratings grabber —a ratings grabber in which you get to sell all of the commercials. Put a popular, proven newscast at 10 and it will yield a pile of money. Put Jay Leno there and who the hell knows what will happen.
Network TV is so desperate that they’ve started using deceptive and unfair tricks to make people watch their stupid shows. Take Dancing With the Stars for example.
As I’ve written before, I flee from the room when that program comes on —and so does my 13- year-old son, Zack. But the producers have discovered a devious way to get me to watch: by featuring NFL players among the stars. How could I not watch former NY Giant Lawrence Taylor trying to do the cha-cha? Granted, it’s not as exciting as watching him break Joe Theisman’s leg, but hey it’s LT.
Last week both Zack and I were drawn into this insipid show because they not only featured Lawrence Taylor, but Steve-O from Jackass. And they put Apple founder Steve Wozniak on to appeal to the geeks. Hopefully it will not take long for natural selection to weed out the manly elements and we can stop watching.
Back in the early 1980s MTV used to show music videos. Yes, it’s true! Now you have to hunt them up on the internet. If you’re a fan of long tracking shots, you’ll like this one from Vampire Weekend. It took them 17 takes to get this right during their shoot at Ronnybrook Farm in Columbia County.
And from the classics collection, here is a slight lyric revision to Billy Idol’s iconic White Wedding video.
I wish I’d seen this before writing about online content and how it’s a problem for TV. This explains everything.
I’ve seen every episode of 30 Rock. That may not sound like much of an accomplishment, but at 47 years old you need to hang your hat on something. But this isn’t about what I watch on TV, this is about what I don’t watch on TV: and what I don’t watch on TV is 30 Rock. That’s because I watch it on my computer.
That’s right, I’ve never actually sat on the couch on Thursday night and seen my favorite current TV show. And why should I? Between NBC’s website and Hulu there’s no need. Hell, there’s not even a need to record the show.
Add this to the growing list of things that are killing changing local television. The network said that offering full episodes for free online would build audience. It has. It’s built audience for their website. And in terms of selling advertising, online viewing is a valuable little gem with an attractive demo.
What’s happening to local TV is not an earthquake where everything slides suddenly into the ocean. Think of it more like a beach where the audience is going away one grain of sand at a time. A little bit here and a little bit there and before you know it you’re standing in the water. And the water’s getting higher.
Not all eighties bands were dreadful.
Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward of She & Him craft a perfect little slice of retro 2:30 pop here —so it’s a little surprising when it takes a weird turn. That’s Halloween for you.