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.

Naruto Back on Netflix

I know this has been a major concern of those who’ve been wanting to watch Naruto and use their favorite movie rental program to do it.

Well, good news.

Naruto is back on Netflix with 32 discs available to rent. If they’re sticking to 4 episodes a disc, then up to episode 128 is available. I think these are still the English only dubs (Japanese is always better) but when comparing both there could be a worse dub as far as voices go. I think the only problem with this dub is some lines which work all right in Japanese sound pretty much stupid in English.

So if the show is putting you off in English, get on the net and find yourself a Japanese version and see if that isn’t vast improvement for you. If you like the show in English, Netflix can accomodate. Hooray to having Naruto back, nonetheless!

Ajikan! One Reason to Love J-Rock

For most of us in the English-speaking world, our first introduction to J-Rock/Pop is via anime opening and closing songs. Occasionally you might stumble across a few artists other ways (found Shiina Ringo and Gackt via youtube, and Ellegarden and Bump of Chicken thanks to a Pillows tribute album), but I’m not ashamed, nor should we be, to say we found an artist because of anime. (I think FLCL is enough said).

I plan to review my other favorite J-Rock/Pop artists in the future–some being mentioned above–but lately I’ve had nothing short of a rabbid infatuation with Asian Kung-Fu Generation (Ajikan or AFKG for short, depending on which language you speak). My first introduction to Ajikan was with Naruto and Haruka Kanata, the second opening song. I had it in my anime list on my iPod and liked the song, but thought nothing much more of the band. At the time I was more obsessed with the Pillows and Bump of Chicken (well, still am).

After hearing the full version of Haruka Kanata some time later, I fell in love with the style and vocals and needed more Ajikan. (I was also looking for more Orange Range at the time, Ajikan won out–not that I don’t still love Orange Range). Ajikan is a bit well-known in the anime world, currently for After Dark, the seventh opening for Bleach. Ajikan’s music can also be found on other anime, such as Fullmetal Alchemist, the fourth opening Rewrite, the theme song for Tekkon Kinkreet Aru Machi no Gunjou, and of course as mentioned Naruto.

But don’t think anime is all they’re good for.

The albums I’ve been listening to currently (as I like to take a few at a time) are:
Feedback File
Kimi Tsunagi Five M
Sol-Fa

Feedback File (2006) is probably my favorite of the list. It’s a mix of studio and live–the live portions being what really sold me on this album–though a great album overall. My favorite song on this album and current Ajikan favorite overall has to be Re:Re: I’ve heard it live and studio, and I have to say, get it live, it’s loads better. Sometimes you’ll get artists who sound good studio, but terrible live, this is definitely not the case with Ajikan. Often you’ll find they’re better live.

From Kimi Tsunagi Five M (2003) and Sol-Fa (2004) I’m loving the songs No Name and Yoru no Mukou. But it’s not like those are the only good ones. Ajikan just makes your listening time fun (and the commute by car or train less annoying).

Something else I admire about Ajikan is the fabulous album art. They recently did the Nano-Mugen festival album compilation art (and you can easily tell it was their art). And by the way, if you’re in Japan, you may want to check out the Nano-Mugen festivals in the future if you haven’t been going. This year (July) they had Third Eye Blind, Stereophonics, our boys Ajikan, Ellegarden, Phantom Planet and Art-School to name a few. This year it was held at Yokohama Arena.

So Ajikan comes highly, highly recommended. If I were going to name American bands to compare, I’d have to say Weezer meets Jimmy Eat World meets Stone Temple Pilots with a little bit of A Perfect Circle thrown in. I’d probably put it one or two notches above the Pillows in a “hard rock” scale, so not head banging, but not super light either.

And if anyone knows where you can get some sweet Ajikan shirts, bags, etc., please post a comment and leave a trail. I’m frequenting ebay, but none too successful as of late.

HOW TO LISTEN:
Pandora has one album. iTunes has got none. Amazon and ebay are probably your best bets album-wise, and there are a few of the songs around the net available to preview streaming. Friends from/in Japan are helpful as well, but however you do it, give this band a go. It will be worth it.

Fox sues WB over Watchmen?

This is super lame, Fox. Seriously, are you really that pathetic now that you have to resort to this?

Twentieth Century Fox is trying to stop Warner Bros. from releasing the Watchmen. In a lawsuit, Fox says it acquired the motion pictures rights to the graphic novel in the ’80s, and when it gave up some of those rights in 1991, it held onto the right to distribute the movie.

Monday, a federal judge in Los Angeles agreed with Fox’s claim and said there is enough evidence to keep the lawsuit moving forward. As a result the film’s March 16 release is on hold until the two sides or a judge settles the dispute. Fox has announced that instead of seeking a share of the sure-fire hit, it is intent on stopping the movie from being released.

The complaint states that when Fox teamed up with producer Larry Gordon in 1991 to develop a Watchmen movie, the rights were transferred to them and so was due payment if the film was ever made. Things didn’t work out in developing the movie so Fox and Gordon went their separate ways. In 2006, Gordon made a deal with Warner Bros. to make Watchmen and Fox is saying they never got paid.

Zack Snyder, director of 300 and Watchmen, has finished shooting the movie with stars Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino and Billy Crudup, and is continuing post production. Watchmen is based on the groundbreaking graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

Well, at least they didn’t try and bring it to suit in January 2009, but STILL. I’m sure some of you are thinking, boycott Fox, but what’s that honestly going to do? What might get the right kind of attention would be sending smiley faces to Fox executives. (Because, yeah, you can quit watching 24 and the Sarah Conner Chronicles, but you’re not hurting Fox you’re hurting the producers, actors, and writers of those shows).

Anyways, thought I’d share the lame story.

The Return of the Muse

I’m sure some of you have asked yourselves the very important question, “Where’s Mac?” Well, I’ll tell you.

My writing muse decided to take a vacation without consulting with me. Which left me sitting in front of my computer with a very frustrated look on my face as I tried to figure out the best way to write what I wanted to write. Anybody who’s been writing for any significant amount of time will tell you there is nothing more frustrating to a writer than to have their ability to write stunted by the dreaded writer’s block. Any decent writer will also tell you that anything they put down when they are in the middle of said blockage is embarrassing and not to be seen by anybody else or made a matter of public record. In the writing funk I was in there was no way I was going to try to put down some half-baked review. Reading through some of my other stuff I realize my muse had her bags packed and was half-way out the door already. Blah.

But just because I haven’t been able to put down a decent paragraph doesn’t mean I haven’t been trolling my entertainment library. In the intervening time I’ve managed to watch all 11 seasons of Frasier, most of 3rd Rock from the Sun, the first two episodes of a British miniseries called Eleventh Hour, the first season of Charmed (see review below), and various movies that looked interesting at the time. I’ve also been to a couple of local theaters to catch The Dark Knight, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, and Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

Eventually these and more will all be reviewed. First I want to talk about those last three movies listed and tell you what my personal pick of the summer is. So if you’ll give me a couple of days to compose myself and get my reviews in order you’ll know what movie you should go see out of those three if you have to pick just one.

My apologies for disappearing. I was just extremely frustrated with my writing. I really think I need to stick my muse in a cage. Or maybe break it’s legs.

Comic-Con 2008: Swag, Costumes, etc.

Bags were a popular handout this year.

Bags were a popular handout this year.

This will probably be my last entry for Comic-Con 2008, but there’s always the 2009 event upcoming. There are lots of forums to attend and lines to stand in, but that’s not all of the Comic-Con experience. There’s also the exhibit floor, the wacky costumes and of course, the free stuff.

As I mentioned earlier, I never was able to get me a “Big Frakkin Bag” and I’m sad I didn’t get the Pushing Daisies Warner Bros. bag either, but I still came away with loads of stuff, most of which is posters, sample books, and flyers (so many flyers), and a lot of which is not pictured here. I just wanted to give the curious an idea of what you’re in for. I think we may expect an increase in entry fee to the Con as well. Last year I believe it was $55 for a 4-day pass, this year it was $75 (which still sold out), I’m wondering if they’ll keep bumping it to see how far they can take it. I wouldn’t be surprised.

The Caped Crusaders--lego-ized!

The Caped Crusaders--lego-ized!

Lego Indy

Lego Indy

Something else to look forward to is what Lego will present. If it seems odd to you that Lego would be at a “comic” convention, well, it shouldn’t. Not with Lego Star Wars, Lego Batman, and Lego Indiana Jones all making it to consoles. I’d really like to take one of these statues home. I think they’ve had contests in the past. Anyone ever built something to these scales out of Legos? I’m always impressed.

The Dynamic Duo?

The Dynamic Duo?

Hyrulians invade!

Hyrulians invade!

Costumes. Lots of people dressed up. I think July could be the second most likely month to find grown ups wearing costumes in a perfectly acceptable environment (the first being Halloween).

And you are guaranteed to find someone dressed as a storm trooper, simply guaranteed. Take a moment to absorb.

more troops

storm troops

Storm trooper

another

People love to dress up. I’m kind of sad I didn’t have some kind of sweet costume I’d been working on all year (except for the all year part). Dunno, I’ve got friends who want to dress up next year, and well, it wouldn’t be Comic-Con without cosplay. If I do, I’ll post it here. 😉

A few more costumes to enjoy:
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………

mad?

mad?

aliens!

aliens!

the firelord!

the firelord!

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………

He's got the power...

He's got the power...

Quantum of Solace?

Quantum of Solace?

The exhibit hall is basically a quarter mile of booths, some with swag, some not. You can still buy comics (*wink*) but you can also pick up art from upcoming artists, get advance copies of books, or partial advance copies, or just look at awesome He-Man and Grayskull decor. And just because comics have a nerdy stigma, don’t think James Bond won’t be stopping buy.

yeah, that's a star trek guy takin' the photo

yeah, that's a star trek guy takin' the photo

If you’re tired of the forums on the inside, you can head just outside of the convention center, where there may be events going on. I particularly liked seeing all the statues promoting Mummy 3, but they also had people holding Fringe balloons and it’s also where I got my History Channel Dinosaur bag (kind of odd to be at Comic-Con, I thought, but whatever, it’s free).

Will Riker

Will Riker

And last but not least, a typical sight at a Comic-Con is the has-been actors. Oh, come on! Yes, he was in Star Trek: TNG, and yeah, he’ll probably always (at least to the Star Trek crowd) be remembered for it, but what has he done lately besides conventions and docs about Star Trek. Honestly? Well, either way, it was fun to see him and snap a photo anyways.

You can always count on a new Star Trek movie to bring the old stars back out of the attic. Which, btw, I’m a little excited for, simply because I love Zachary Quinto. Hey, is it wrong to love villains, namely Sylar. Sure, he’s evil, but he does such a good job at it.

Well, it’s been fun and interesting and crowded, but still a worthwhile go. The weather was great, and next time I really should try to see the San Diego sites instead of just hanging out with 25,000 + people all day. 2009, here we come!

Comic-Con 2008: Day Three (July 26)

10:30-11:45 Heroes: Exclusive First Look at “Villains” and Q&A with the Entire Cast, Tim Kring, and Tim Sale

Although I showed up an hour and a half before the forum started, and it was in Hall H, the biggest room they’ve got–basically it didn’t matter. The line wrapped around the basically the entire building. People likely camped out the night before and blah, blah, blah, I went and had breakfast instead. You can find and watch the panel on youtube, and hopefully this fall will bring a far better season than last year.

11:15-12:30 Quick Draw!

From the Comic-Con guidebook:

It’s the battle of the cartoonists, featuring the one artist who may be the match for the reigning champs! Join Sergio Aragonés (the world’s fastest cartoonist), the quick-witted and quicker-penned Scott Shaw, and the new kid, editorial and syndicated cartoonist Mike Peters (Mother Goose and Grimm), as they place their pens to paper to do their fastest, most clever work, while you watch them draw on the big screen. Host Mark Evanier puts them through their paces in one of Comic-Con’s most popular annual events.

sample of Quickdraw art

sample of Quickdraw art projected onto screens

If for some reason (like hordes of people) you can’t get into your desired forums, or if you just don’t see anything you want to go to, this is the forum for you. Sergio is always there (or has been since I’ve been going), and it’s a lot of fun to watch these artists at work. I was a little sad in thinking I wouldn’t see it because of other forums, but since Heroes was out of the question, as was Futurama and Simpsons (since if you couldn’t get into Heroes, that was the next best long line), it made my Saturday morning worthwhile.

11:30-12:30 Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Screening and Q&A

I tried to get into this. Yeah… Saturday was busier than ever and kind of made me consider heavily attending Wonder Con instead.

12:30-2:00 Cartoon Voices

This is also a traditional panel at the Con. A bunch of famous voice actors get together and do an old radio show together–though in their own way. This too is another great forum to just relax and be entertained (if you can’t get into your forum/nothing good is going on). I recommend you do it at least once if you visit the Con. And since attending the Con is becoming more and more popular, you may want to keep it in mind.

In attendance this year was: Jason Marsden* (Fairly OddParents, Loonatics Unleashed), Wally Wingert (The Garfield Show, Family Guy), Phil LaMarr (Justice League, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends), Alicyn Packard (The Mr. Men Show, World of Warcraft), TV legend Chuck McCann, and Tom Kenny* (SpongeBob SquarePants)

12:45-1:45 Exclusive Q&A with the writers of The Office

I kept checking the line for this one, it was still wrapped around the hall and then some. But by a fluke I happened to get in just as it ended. I didn’t see Dwight (Rainn Wilson) (he was surrounded by rabbid fans), but I saw Ryan the temp (B.J. Novak). It did make me very sad to miss this one, but the room would be holding the Pushing Daisies panel later, so feeling lucky that I would make it to at least one panel I had really wanted to go to (no Dollhouse, no BSG, no Chuck, no Fringe… *sob*). If I haven’t stressed it enough, Saturday is a tough day.

Creator created Freaks & Geeks

Paul Feig created Freaks & Geeks

2:00-3:00 Comics: Across Every Medium

A filler panel, truly, and for the most part I didn’t care and doodled while waiting for Pushing Daisies. I was, however, interested when both Paul Feig (creator of Freaks & Geeks) and David Goyer (Batman Begins) spoke. Paul Fieg said he wanted Freaks & Geeks (a fabulous short-lived TV series if you haven’t see it) to be timeless, which is a part of the reason he had it take place in the late ’70s early ’80s area. He added that it’s harder to do it contemporary, simply for the fact that a song that’s super popular when they’re filming could be super overplayed/unpopular by the time it hit syndication.

He also mentioned how it’s interesting that it’s not as taboo as it was to admit you read comics, especially with all the comic book movies that have been hitting recently–and especially this year. David Goyer added that WB wants an executive who knows comics–after all, they’re turning into a moneymaking area.

Goyer said Chris Nolan has NOT said anything about doing a Batman 3, and is really just wanting to enjoy the success of Dark Knight and go on vacation for a while and then they’ll see. So if there is going to be a Batman 3, we shouldn’t be expecting news of it for at least another month.

3:15-4:15 Pushing Daisies Screening and Q&A

The Piemaker (Lee Pace) and Chuck (other girl)

The Piemaker (Lee Pace) and Chuck (Anna Friel)

Yay! I made it! And here we have finally, the Pushing Daisies panel, with everyone in attendance (And I have to say ‘boo’ to the San Diego Convention guys who thought cramming this panel into such a small room was a great idea. They easily could have filled a larger sized room–and maybe taken care of the line problem as well). In attendance: Lee Pace (The Fall), Anna Friel (Land of the Lost), Chi McBride (Boston Public), Ellen Greene (Little Shop of Horrors), Swoosie Kurtz (Superman Doomsday), Kristin Chenoweth (The West Wing, Wicked), and executive producer/creator Bryan Fuller (Heroes).

Last season definitely left us hanging, but the trailer they showed didn’t do much to resolve, only to excite. If you haven’t jumped on the Pushing Daisies bandwagon, now might be a good time to start. You can watch 4 episodes on the ABC site, but if you don’t mind Chinese subs and you can’t wait for the DVD to hit shelves (September 16), then you can use SurftheChannel.com to get the rest (only 9 episodes thx to the writer’s strike).

Cast of Pushing Daisies (minus Lee, who is hidden)

Cast of Pushing Daisies (minus Lee, who is hidden)

The chat wasn’t much different than what Bryan Fuller had already said in previous forums. The cast did say, however, that they love making this show because it leaves them feeling happy. Lee said there’s a difference in the kind of show or performance you’re doing and how it leaves you feeling (he briefly mentioned Heath Ledger) and how it affects you. He loves being the piemaker because he feels happy afterward.

I know some critics (both professional and non) might say the show is too happy or too light for television. Have we really reached an age where something that makes you smile in an innocent way is no longer appropriate for TV? Really? I think the strong fanbase of the show would suggest otherwise.

My favorite moment during the panel was when a young girl (like 8) said hello to Kristin and asked her if she would sing a song. Kristin obliged. (Once again, video quality not spectacular, but you can hear Kristin just fine.)

END OF DAY AND CONVENTION (FOR ME)

Since I couldn’t get into Fringe that was it for me. The evening on a Saturday consists of the Masquerade ball, where a lot of the best (and sometimes the worst) costumes are judged. True Blood sponsored it this year. Wonder if they served red punch. 😉 I didn’t stick around for Sunday, so no, no Supernatural or Smallville panels for me.

That’s not the end of the Comic-Con posts for 2008, however. I’ve got pics from the exhibit floor and fun costumes I saw and the wacky obsession with storm troopers Con goers seem to have. So look for that, hopefully tomorrow.