Category Archives: Pop Culture & Society

My Latest Bazillion Dollar Idea That Could Save Hollywood: A Cable Network Devoted to Failed Pilots.

As most of you know I’m taking some time away from the Internet due to circumstances beyond my control. It’s been a bit much to take, and today I had to get away from all things Death related, and walked to the Richmond, did some shopping, and basically got away from things. It was good.
ANYWAY, whilst chatting with pals via The Twitter, an idea, not necessarily a new one, hit me. I’d been doing some searching on YouTube and elsewhere about failed TV pilots over the years, or ones that are significantly different from what aired. A few years ago, I found online not only a failed pilot (starring Michelle Forbes!) for the TV version of “Global Frequency,” I also found the lost pilot for the USA version of “Life on Mars,” which orginally was set in Los Angeles and starred, among other people, Colm Meany. In the case of “Global Frequency,” this was a producer-sanctioned release, as he was annoyed the then-WB network for not picking it up. For the record, with a little work it could have been a cool show. On a crappy network.
The old TRIO network enjoyed some success with its “Brilliant But Canceled” series back in the day, and when those of us who are pop culture historians lost it, it was a sad day. However, I’m not the only one who’s thought of this – at one point it was determined that the iTunes store could be a great way for networks to recover the cost of pilots by selling them and perhaps offering a “second chance” if something sold well. (citation later).
Imagine a whole network full of these things, each with intros by TV and film critics, and with explanations as to how the pilot system works (which by the way was the subject of a documentary I remember watching on TRIO, along with a documentary about LA’s old Z Channel, but I can’t remember the name of either), and have commentary by folks like Tim Goodman and others, and I think you’d have a winner people would watch on cable, or Netflix, or whatever.
If anyone does this, can you just send the check payable to me, and make sure it’s delivered safely? I promise to spend it wisely

Oh The Irony: SFGate Writer Decries Crazy SFGate Commenters, The Only Reason SFGate Has Traffic

angry_mob_300px.jpgThese days, anytime you read something in the news, you can’t just accept it. You have to play the “Is this for real, or is this The Onion?” game, because often times, the truth is crazier than anything people could make up.
So when I read a headline in Google Reader that Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius was annoyed at “gutless trolls” hassling the subject of one of his columns, I assumed that this was some sort of a joke. We all know that the comment sections are a foul mouthed, angry, ill-informed lot. However, this gang of online anony-thugs are also the only reason the site gets the level of traffic that it currently generates.
Now, Mr. Nevius was right on the money regarding these creeps who hide behind anonymity and hurl insults and epithets at the Gate, and then move on to hate mail to the subjects of his columns. The fact such people are such chickenshits they can’t sign their name says a lot. He’s also not the first to suggest the Gate’s commenters are a pack of lunatics.
That said, without these crazies, the Gate would not have nearly the traffic it has now. So, ironically, Mr. Nevius and the Chronicle are able to be online due to the actions of these nuts. Truly, an “is it real or is it the Onion?” moment.
PS: Here’s another thing I’ve observed…there are some people out there who apparently cannot stand the idea that every other human being on the planet does not agree with them lock-step, and are often the most ferocious commenters, spending their day commenting over and over, attacking people etc. I have yet to see any writer, upon reading said comments, say “Oh my God, I was wrong, I shall change my opinions 100% immediately to comply with some bitter retiree in Arizona who disagreed with me! Oh the shame of my crazy opinions!”
They do the same with other commenters. I’ve been online far longer than I care to admit, and I have yet to see under any circumstances “commenting” changing minds or having much of an impact. The fact that some people have so much time during business hours to attack others online makes me wonder what kind of a job they have (if any) that allows them so much time to invest in something that’s interesting, but doesn’t impact the world at large.

Death of Film/Beach Noir: Terriers on FX AKA Why Tumblr Sucks Too

Despite the drama, I do have a point. The fact is I have been using Tumblr for my non-political, nerdy rantings. Fine, and I’m sure you wanted to read them. (not). That said, the fact that you cant Google this shit, you can’t even search on Tumblr, and the fact that Tumblr is so GOD DAMNED UNRELIABLE which gets nothing but a “fuck you” from its venture capital paid CEO means, well, guess what? AOL bit it, and I think Tumblr will bite the big one too. So for posterity’s sake, here’s the piece on my dead-to-me Movable Type install:
To my absolute non-surprise, FX announced the cancellation of “Terriers.” The ratings were low, and it suffered from a lot of mis-steps in the development and marketing of the program. Here’s a few:
1. The name. “Terriers.” Really? What do people think of when they hear the word “terrier?” Little yappy dog. That’s not quite a good description of Hank and Britt, our main characters. It should have been called ANYTHING ELSE. My suggestion would have been something implying “underdogs” (and f*ck the cartoon, this is Hollywood where a lawyer can do anything) or something bolder or tougher. This was, after all, old school Film Noir, done on the beach.
(On a side note, the naming of programs is key, and this is how Dollhouse f*cked up. I mean, you have a hot woman as the lead, a weird sci-fi/spy/whatever theme, and some cool co stars and guest stars, but really, DOLLHOUSE? Why didn’t they call it something cool? I mean, if I’m at the bar and I’m all “Hey guys, going home to watch Dollhouse” I might as well put a giant “kick me” sign on my back for the rest of the season. Seriously.)
2. Marketing sucked. Not a shock because the FOX constellation of sites can’t market anything that isn’t “Ow My Balls!” or some other stupid-ass show. The billboards and ads in NYC/LA had this picture of an ugly stupid dog. Again, not really creating the icon or the imagery of what the show was about. Idiots.
3. They needed one other “name” b or c level actor in the main cast , OR some cameos. Donal Logue is one of the most underrated actors out there, because after “The Tao of Steve” I think he got a bit typecast, and no one really appreciates how great he is. But he’s also not a household name. So, even though this might have cost some extra money, populating the show with either some well placed cameos of actors from other FX shows, or folks from genre shows who always have a following, or better yet a co-star woman who people have heard of, would have helped draw more attention to a show.
Think about it. The moment you cast someone from Stargate SG-1, any Whedonverse show, Star Trek Anything, Battlestar Galactica, etc., the fans on The Series of Tubes lose it and tell everyone to watch it. Law and Order: (insert surname here) has had all kinds of folks on their show who don’t cost a fortune and it generates buzz. (Stephen Colbert, anyone?)
4. FX wasn’t necessarily the best home for this show. If you look at most of the drama programs on FX (Sons of Anarch, Damages, The Shield, etc.), they tend towards an edgy, often violent or sharp plots and dialogue. “Terriers” was a bit toned down, and more subtle, and required some up front investment for the unfolding plots and side plots to develop. It’s hard to place it elswhere: USA produces cheap Sherlock Holmes quirky main character pieces, HBO has to be all high and mighty, Showtime wasn’t likely to pick it up either, and AMC is too busy with Mad Men and their few other shows (but hey, they canceled Rubicon, wtf, pick up Terriers, gang!) and so on. Any suggestions would be great.
Finally, I think it’s time for the creative types to realize that if you don’t have something that is super easy to market to the drooling masses, and requires thought and money to enjoy and produce, DON’T WORK WITH F*CKING FOX ANYTHING EVER. These are folks that cancel shows after 10 minutes in a premiere, so don’t expect anything but tears (got that Joss?) and deal.

Friday Flashback – MAD Magazine Cover from 1960!

mad1960.jpgLately I’ve been going through various, disorganized boxes of things I’ve saved over the years, organizing them so I can finally frame my button collection and other odd memoribilia I’ve saved. It’s not Hoarders level weird stuff either – being a minimalist who has moved around the country several times, I’m pretty strict on what remains with me and what is given away. I have been pleasantly surprised to find several items, one of which I’ve featured here – a MAD magazine from 1960.
If you’re a fan of Mad Men, you’ll recall that season 1 starts in 1960, and there’s much discussion of the Presidential election that year. One wonders if the ad copywriters of Sterling Cooper might have had a copy of this issue in their desk, to read whilst having a drink at work.
Even funnier is the main feature “If Madison Avenue Ran Presidential Elections” and well, let’s just say that in its prime, MAD Magazine was a better resource for learning than most people realize. I credit old MADs from the 60s and 70s as being the prime influence of my world view, far more than some silly party or politician.

Replace Traditional Anti-Valentine’s Day Snark and Hate With….The Rebranding of Valentine’s Day!

valentines_color_icon.gifOne of the most honored traditions of the Valentine’s Day Season is the annual Hating on Valentine’s Day ritual. 30 Rock had a bit of this last night, and the practice of such is as time honored as giving candy and zany teddy bears to people you (might) love (and might not see again after giving that weird-ass gas station teddy bear to on V-Day).
However, this year there’s something new for Valentine’s day that’s neither pro, nor anti, but instead what the holiday really needs…a brand re-imagining!
Brand New, part of the Under Consideration constellation of websites (which you Select Readers may written recall from past posts), featured this extensive workup of the upgraded, rebranded and improved Valentine’s Day. The key component is to create a unique symbol for Valentine’s day (as the “heart” image is appropriated by many causes and ideas) with…this new exclusive icon (pictured at right).
Read the rest of the article for the details. It’s quite entertaining, actually. For more information on unique branding and marketing, consult your local library, or just go watch this video about how a stop sign would be designed by a modern corporation.

Afternoon Pop Culture Decompression with Jack Bauer and More LOST

What a day, what with an epic Muni FAIL, the iPad (aka the 80s boombox version of the iPod), and all this stuff about guys breaking into places to do nefarious things, it’s time for some pop culture decompression.
First, mix Rammstein (yay!) and other metal bands with Jack Bauer shooting everyone, and you get this:

Now, let’s take all the footage we know about what happened at the time of Oceanic 815s crash, put it all together, “24” style, and voila!:

Obama SOTU vs. Apple JOBS vs. LOST s5!

DHARMAlogo.jpgSo today is the day when months of rumor and speculation are deflated and we all get to find out what that Important Person has to say about Something That Affects Us All. I’m of course talking about the Apple (insert product here) which, if you are ever on the Internet, have heard that this miracle device will cure cancer, baldness, world hunger, awkward social situations, and deciding what truly is the brand of cola that expresses you best.
Oh, yeah, I think there’s some guy in Washington who was 2008’s Apple product, complete with hype created by the crowd too, you know the one who was going to do the same things as the Apple (insert product here), and more. Isn’t he speaking today too?
Me? I’m more concerned about how the final season of LOST will end. The Dharma Initiative worked in secret so they never had to contend with the endless amounts of bullshit speculation about what they were going to do, and they were dealing with all kinds of crazy stuff. So, in the end, the fictional event (the one that pushed back the President’s address to the nation, and has LESS fictional speculation than the Apple event) ironically is the one I’m looking forward to the most and have absolutely no expectations for at all.
Oh and if you don’t know about LOST and don’t have time to watch 5 seasons before next week…

Let’s Take A Break From The World’s Crappiness With the Dancin’ Stormtrooper

Let’s take a break from Newsom FAIL, Muni FAIL, and Overall Economy FAIL with…the Dancin’ Stormtrooper!

For more of the Dancin’ Stormtrooper, check out Danny Choo’s site. It’s rather awesome.

TMZ and The Chronicle Read My Mind: Cover Politicians!

Well that was funny to read this morning…it seems that gossip gurus are going to start applying their style of journalism to politicos as it warrants, much as they do celebrities in Hollywood.
To which I say “Thank God!”
I actually posted a zany little blog missive on this very issue just over a year ago but was serious – doesn’t seem to mind pissing off the folks in Hollywood, and they always seemed to be on the scene.
Maybe if we could get TMZ and some awesome investigative reporters to tag team our folks in government, we’d really get something there. The folks could be the shock and awe troops to zing ’em when they drive their SUVs to Earth Day, and the investigative folks could get paid well to do the kind of reporting you need from Real Journalists once the target’s been acquired.
Hey, it couldn’t hurt, right?
PS: I bet it would make money too. Grab the readers with the TMZ takedown, keep the eyes on the site for the tough reporting. I’d definitely pay for THAT.

Tribute to Bob Wilkins, former KTVU TV Personality and Good Guy

capcoscard.jpgThis is sad seems Bob Wilkins, former host of Creature Features and Captain Cosmic on KTVU died this week. If you were around in the Bay Area in the 1960’s and 1970s, no doubt you remember Bob’s programs and his unique personality he brought to Bay Area TV. This was back when local TV stations weren’t all owned by chains, and produced original local programming (instead of gutting all local content and all local news like they do now).
Being a nerd growing up, I of course watched Captain Cosmic, who broadcast Japanese monster TV shows and old 1930s serials like “Flash Gordon” and had a Decoder Card. I even got a chance to meet him as a kid and got a signed picture as well. (I’m so glad nerd stuff like this is mainstream – it sure wasn’t back in 1978). My biggest regret is missing an event at the Parkway Theater several years ago where he brought Robot 2T2 out of retirement and hosted a Halloween event in costume!
So in honor of Bob and his work over the years, here’s some videos. RIP Bob.