TV Ratings: Nielsen You’re Old School

What is it that makes network execs decide to keep or cancel a show?  Ratings.  If the ratings aren’t high then potentially the show isn’t getting watch enough and if not enough are watching, advertisers would rather spend their money elsewhere.

Basically, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.  We may enjoy the major networks for free, but advertisers foot the bill and if they don’t think they’re reaching enough of us, they pull their money and in turn shows get pulled.

How are these ratings determined?  A company called Nielsen Media Research places boxes in houses or has viewers keep diaries on what they’re watching.  This may have worked 10 years ago, and though Nielsen is making an effort to see what’s recorded on DVR to be watched later, the new generation of TV watchers doesn’t watch like they used to.  Now with streaming video online (often as good as or much better than SD) as well as DVR, the face of viewing has changed.

I think for a lot of us, if ratings were determined on us actually being at home and sitting on our couches watching when the show aired (which they are), a lot of shows would get canceled (and they have been).  I watch Heroes, Fringe, Pushing Daisies, Dexter, and Smallville currently (add 24 and BSG when they’re on).  But due to my schedule, I’m rarely ever present at home when these shows air.  It was either record for later, or my current preferred method, watch it online the next day.

If I had a Nielsen box in my home, ratings contribution would be low.

With the digital age comes the technology to watch everything on demand (at least after the TV premiere), or later on DVD, because that’s the way a lot of us prefer it.  I suppose I bring this up because I know Pushing Daisies hasn’t been doing well as far as Nielsen is concerned, but I know a lot of people who watch it, and those who do are avid fans.

So are the networks even comparing the online numbers?  True, people could be rewatching vids the next day, but looking at the hugely popular Hulu.com doesn’t it click with the execs that we’re hardly the audience who will be sitting down at the time they demand?

We do have to give credit to a part of the online appeal being less commercials, but for me if it came down to having my favorite show canceled and upping the commercial time online, I’d take more commercial time.

Nielsen, currently you are old school.  And networks, the new generation doesn’t want it when you decide to give it to them, they want it when they want it.  I think once they get it, they can start gaining their money another way, and we can keep our shows.

Anyways, keep your fingers crossed for Pushing Daisies.

Netflix Instant5 (Oct6)

What is the Instant5?  It’s five recommendations I make for wasting time and more importantly getting your money’s worth out of your Netflix subscription.  Let’s be honest: the way Netflix has it set up now is only “sorta kinda” helpful in finding something to view.  So without further ado:

THIS WEEK’S Instant5

1. Inspector Gadget

No, fortunately not the Disney film of the same name with Matthew Broderick.  This is the original animated series, which should please nostalgic ’80s cartoon fans such as myself.  This is volume one of the series which includes all 22 episodes of that volume for your instant viewing pleasure.  There is no volume two in the US as of yet, although there are rumors of a 25th anniversary collection set, nothing is confirmed, but at least you can watch a better-than-youtube quality version of the first 22 eps.

2. The TV Set

Mac reviewed this movie not too long ago.  From Wiki: The plot follows an idealistic writer (David Duchovny) as he tries to navigate his TV pilot down the mine-laden path from script to production to the madness of prime-time scheduling – all while trying to stay true to his vision. Along the way he has to juggle the agendas of a headstrong network president (Weaver), volatile young stars, a pregnant wife and an ever-optimistic personal manager/agent (Greer).  I have not as of yet watched this, but now that it’s on Instant, it’s on the list.

3. Shut Up & Sing

Remember the Dixie Chicks?  I’m sure most think of their bigger-than-Jesus comment that flushed their career for a time.  To be honest, I don’t like the Dixie Chicks, still don’t, but I did enjoy the documentary because I felt like it was mostly honest about the event and how it did get blown out of proportion.  So love them or hate them, if you truly like to be informed this is worth a look.

4. The Shadow

The superhero from the old time radio comes to life via Alec Baldwin pre-annoying days.  It’s not like this is the epic superhero movie, but there was always something about The Shadow that appealed to me, and I love the Dick Tracy-like production design of the film.  I think it’s worth seeing once and now that it’s in instant I’ll probably see it a few times.

5. James and the Giant Peach

Ok, so it isn’t the Nightmare Before Christmas, but there’s still something about this show that I love.  Probably the stop-motion animation, probably Roald Dahl, I love this movie and I’m glad to see it on Instaview.  Good for kids, but there’s just some kind of magic in there that holds my appeal.

Under “genres” they have a new section called Starz Play which has added to the selection of Netflix instaview library tremendously.  I recommend looking under there for newer movies to see.  Until next time!

Mac Users Rejoice?

According to a recent post on the Netflix community blog, Mac support for the Netflix Instant View service will be available “by the end of the year,” which I guess still falls in line with their earlier post of “sometime in 2008.”

I’m really hoping this isn’t relying on Apple support, which has been the hold up in the first place for the Mac kids out there (they want you to use Apple TV and nothing else).  I guess come December 31, 2008 (but we’ll keep our fingers crossed for sooner) we’ll see.

Fall 2008 TV Show Premieres – Dee

As promised, and now with everything I listed having shown at least one episode, I bring you Dee’s sum-up of the shows old and new thusfar.

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SMALLVILLE
Coming back in its eighth season, what can we expect from Miles and Alfred this go around? I was very much hesitant to even watch. I’ve been with the show from the beginning and it hasn’t been in top form the last couple of seasons, even with a Supergirl jumpstart. So, are we glad to have a season eight?

Well, keep it going the way it seems to be, and the answer is yes.

Odyssey
I love it when the sorta Justice League comes to visit. Although we were supposed to get Batman originally, the Green Arrow does it well enough and I must say a vast improvement on the Green Arrow character overall. Maybe DC can pull this one out for a movie in the future. This is basically the where-is-Clark-oh-there-he-is episode, but it sets up the season nicely and best of all: we’ve finally moved to the Daily Planet. Much as we all loved the farm boy escapades with love interest Lana, it seems for now that chapter is closed and suddenly the lack of fawning makes me a fan again.

Plastique
What would Smallville be without its Freak-of-the-Week (FOTW) episodes? This week’s meteor freak can blow stuff up, which is only secondary to the real point of the episode: setting up the likely coming romance between Lois and Clark, getting us used to Daily Planet life and a Lex replacement. If you’ve noticed in the opening, there is a shot of Clark in glasses at the DP which I’m eager to see played out in episode. I’m just glad that if they’re going to keep going on the series they’ve finally moved it to where it needs to be. But honestly, can Clark just fly now? C’mon Miles n’ Al, seriously.

So, surprisingly, this is one of the shows I’m most eager to see week by week.

This season so far: A-

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HEROES
This show made me actually want Mondays to come. It killed me to wait a week between episodes… though season two seemed to cure that a little. So what can be said about the start of season three?

The Second Coming
I thought the beginning of the episode was quite strong, but as I was going along, I realized they’re kind of pulling the same stunts as last year. Peter ends up being lost, Hiro is somewhere else chasing after a girl, Nathan’s still freaking out, just in a different way, Claire is still the helpless cheerleader and “Nikki” is still a bit of a floozy. So we really haven’t moved forward, unless you count Mohinder turning into Spider-man (were we supposed to take that seriously? Honestly?)

The Butterfly Effect
Kinda, sorta interesting. It feels like we’ve been here a lot, or maybe the whole time travel thing on the show is losing it’s charm? It just seems like they keep falling back on that. Don’t get me wrong, I like future toughy Peter, but I’d kind of like to see present day Peter actually do something. It seems like just as he starts to get going (end of season 2 for example) they throw him over in Ireland or in someone else’s body, etc.

One of Us, One of Them
Season 3 still hasn’t met the strength of season 1 but this episode was a bit of a dealbreaker for me–in a smaller sense. It has at least managed to maintain my interest in the show and give it a chance. The Sylar factor half screams cheap plot twist to me, but I’m willing to see where it’s going. And to be honest, his character’s new direction is what made the episode interesting and likable to me. So if you were put off by the first two, give this one a look before throwing in the towel completely.

In my opinion, they really botched season two and it’ll probably be a difficult recovery, but I keep thinking of season one and I really want to give the show a chance to come back strong. I think it’s worth holding onto for a few more episodes and see what direction they take it in.

This season so far: B+

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THE OFFICE
I was so happy to actually have a show I liked come back after the writer’s strike. A lot of people were hard on the fourth season, but I really enjoyed it and thought the characters had developed well. And so we rejoin the crew of the Office in the fifth season with unanswered questions.

Weight Loss
This episode worked great for a summer catch up. True, it’s not the most hilarious episode of the Office ever, but I don’t think you can write hoping you will be able to outdo yourself every time. I think you have to write for the characters and hope the regular funny comes with it. So what? Michael is still clueless, Dwight and Angela are still where they were at before, the poor new HR gal is still a bit hoodwinked and Jim and Pam…. well, let’s just say if you’ve been watching the show for them it’ll be worth your while. Having never watched the show week to week, I’m not sure how the rest of you can stand it (I jumped on the bandwagon last fall and got to season four just as it ended). I think we’ll still get a pretty good season out of it and I’ll definitely be staying tuned.

This season so far: A-

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DEXTER
So now that there is no more annoying Lila, what does Dex hold in store for us this round? Having read the books, I’m not so sure I like the direction they’ve headed off in, and I was wary of season three. A lot of the things I thought made Dexter who he was in the books they’ve almost destroyed in a way. They disparaged Harry a bit, trying to pull Dexter away from all of that reliance on the advice of his father, and now he has emotional connection when it’s convenient for the writers. So, is my faith restored in season three?

Our Father
I’m glad the writers recognize Dexter has a strong attachment to Harry, but I think they’re still trying to kill him off in a sense. While I agree in the real world we can’t be living in the shadows of our parents, it does not mean, however, that we must disregard everything they ever told us to come into our own and that’s what I feel like they’re trying to do with Dexter. The complication (and in my opinion, interesting part) of Dexter is to see how he tries to balance what Harry told him with what he sees now and not to get rid of it completely. I suppose time will tell with this season.

I’m 50/50 with the show. Half of me still loves it, half of me is tired of it (Showtime’s fault, not the Dexter universe). So my recommendation, if you love Dexter you’ll probably be just fine with the third season. If you’re a bit more loyal to the book direction than the show direction, give third season a chance, it’s looking to be better than the first season. If you find Dexter appalling, well, it’s not going to get any less appalling. 😉

This season so far: B

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PUSHING DAISIES
Cut super short, I’ve been most eager to see this resume. (And a short plug for the DVD set for season one. It’s beautifully packaged, and probably one of the more impressive designs I’ve seen for a DVD in a long time). I think this was the biggest cliffhanger of them all, so where are we now in season two? And did Pushing Daisies suffer the problem of losing its magic in its second season?

Bzzzzzzz!
If anything, the magic has increased. Everyone is in top form in this bee murder mystery episode. Think of Pushing Daisies as Scooby Doo meets broadway meets the lighter side of Tim Burton. The production design is probably a lot of the appeal in the show for me. Vivid colors and props/buildings that match the theme of each episode are a plenty, and no exception for this episode. I love the building shaped like a hive, the bee-themed inside and even so far as beehive hairdos all accompanied with Jim Dale’s clever narration. On a plot aspect, we learn a little more about last season’s cliffhanger and are left with our own episode cliffhanger of a similar sort. (And can I just say Emerson Cod’s alone time hobbies of knitting and pop-up books always bring me delight). All of these characters are still fun, still unique in their own ways, and real enough you wish there was a Pie Hole to go and visit them.

I love this show! It is worth watching. Rent the DVDs or watch a few episodes online, but join in. You won’t be sorry. This season thusfar: A+

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And without further ado, a show I really hadn’t thought would excite me much or that would be holding so much of my interest:

FRINGE
I’ve liked Joshua Jackson in the past, but hearing his role on this show made me a little wary of his casting. I still haven’t come to a final conclusion on him, but once you get past about half of the first episode it starts to work (or maybe my prejudice died down). Mac likes to call Fringe “X-Files on Crack.” I think I’ll call Fringe “X-Files for those who got tired of alien conspiracies.” It does have an X-Files feel to it, there’s no denying it, but it’s different and better for the here and now. (I am not saying it is better than the X-Files, just that it works better in this day and age).

I still don’t know how I feel about Anna Torv as the FBI agent (is it the always pouty lips?). But I’m still willing to give her and her character a chance. The ideas about Fringe science and seeing this new wacky technology is interesting, and they’ve done well to throw little teasers in (like is the corporation responsible or not and why, is Peter a cylon or what, and why did Walter really go mad?) to keep us watching to hope we get more on those topics.

Pilot
Josh tries to act tough, and it doesn’t really work, but not to worry once they spring his father out of the loony bin his character starts to work. We get a good set up for what the rest of the first season, if not the series will kind of be going toward, and we get fine introductions to the main players.

The Same Old Story
We get a lot of our big teasers (aka if this were the X-Files, like “what happened to Samantha”) for the season, and I know they won’t and shouldn’t answer everything in the first season, but I’d like another clue. 😦 Anyways, interesting stuff, very much in the X-Files tradition, but not at the same time. I know, I keep making allusions to the X-Files, but I loved that show and I feel like that’s a lot of the reason I’m pulled in. The writers seem to be fairly well-educated (or at least JJ is feeding them some good ideas), as it’s terrifying and fascinating at the same time (and apparently with reference to Jules Verne). This episode is basically their Freak-of-the-Week start (borrowing the term from Smallville) where we get our regular encounter of Fringe science. This time it’s different for Olivia–making her feel more connected to all of this than she thinks. Good stuff.

The Ghost Network
I love the idea of this one. Being able to communicate with each other, kind of like telepathy, but more scientific. Something I’ve appreciated about this show so far is they can make reference to things already suggested in real life to make what’s going on believable, but not to tell us that the force is midi-chlorians, so to speak. 😉 If you’re a Walter fan, you’ll see quirks a plenty (another favorite part of the show for me). I love how he can do such ludicrous things, but when someone suggests doing something we would consider just as ludicrous (Peter asking if Walter can identify whose thoughts the man is hearing) he responds as though that’s the most ridiculous thing he’s ever heard as a matter of fact. A well written character. 🙂

The Arrival
I was a little worried about aliens coming in, not that I’m necessarily opposed to it, but I liked it staying rooted to a corporation vs. alien conspiracy. Anyways, another good episode. I think the trouble with this day and age is we like everything instant, so waiting week by week for a show to come into its own is becoming increasingly difficult. I love watching TV on DVD simply because you don’t have to wait, and now that I’m this far into the show, I’m always dying to see the next episode. (2 weeks until fifth episode, btw). I find myself wanting all of the secrets now, and reading Walter’s notes and going to forums, etc. But maybe that’s the point (aka the producers want us to become obsessed).

A good episode for a little more info on the Walter/Peter factor, and some surprises for Olivia as well. I read a TV Guide review on the show, I guess a lot of people are put off by the “ick” factor (and I’m thinking, have you been watching Heroes the last three years???). But there were a couple of things I did agree with somewhat. First, that Josh still seems too young, even though he is in real life 30 and that’s about what Peter is supposed to be. Secondly, that Anna Torv needs to make Olivia’s emotional range a bit more and not be so wooden. I thought that was a bit harsh, but the more I thought about it, yeah, Olivia could stand to have a bit more depth to her. Hopefully we’re coming to that. I suppose I didn’t notice/care because I’ve been more distracted by the Peter/Walter dynamic.

I was very skeptical of the show, but now that I’m addicted, I think I’m going to have to say that this season so far: A+

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So this was a bit long, but I was waiting on Pushing Daisies. Future ones will be much shorter (especially with Fringe out of action next week). Until next Thursday I suppose–with Pushing Daisies being on Wednesdays.

Watch Dexter Season 3 Premiere Free

I don’t know how long this will be up for, but here’s the link:  It’s down now unfortunately, but it was up a lot longer than I had originally thought.  If you don’t mind youtube quality, you can watch it there for free if you get within a few days of the episode before they have to take it down.  If anyone knows of a better way (other than downloading it somewhere) let me now.

You have to “register” with Showtime, but you can opt not to have them send u anything, so far I’ve got no junk in my e-mails and u get to watch Dex for free!